Musicologists increasingly interpret what they do in political terms. The crash of 2008, electoral upsets across the developed world, and the rise of new social movements have expanded the range of debate and given birth to a substantively new intellectual climate. Both of us feel the moment is propitious for a renewal of historical materialism as a viable methodological alternative in music studies. Our joint project is to make explicit the contours of this alternative.
In the past, Marxism entered the discipline primarily–indeed, almost exclusively–through the work of Cold War Critical Theorists such as Theodor Adorno and Ernst Bloch. While these thinkers have much to recommend them, they tended to abandon the core scientific contributions of the Marxist tradition. By contrast, we focus our attention on questions of political economy, especially the theory of value. We believe that a robust understanding of the dynamics of the capitalist mode of production can lead to a concrete concept of an emancipated musicking, one that is non-analogically related to the emancipation of other domains of production and creativity.