The Hallelujah Effect: Philosophical Reflections on Music, Performance Practice, and Technology

Abstract

 

‘[E]ven if one does not follow this book to its conclusion, one should at least keep in mind from the start that it is Nietzsche’s extraordinary and complex conception of the becoming-human of dissonance that drives this exploration of the Hallelujah effect. Hence Nietzsche’s conception of the becoming-human of dissonance is present from the start, at least conceptually, as it must be in a text that begins with a study of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah sung by k.d. lang, together with an analysis of its dissemination on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter’ (p. 16).

 

Content

 

The Hallelujah Effect: Philosophical Reflections on Music, Performance Practice, and Technology. By Babette Babich
The Hallelujah Effect: Philosophical Reflections on Music, Performance Practice, and Technology. By Babette Babich. pp. xvi + 307. Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series (Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, Vt., 2013. 㿨. ISBN 978-1-4094-4960-7.)
Huw Hallam
+ Author Affiliations

King’s College London
‘[E]ven if one does not follow this book to its conclusion, one should at least keep in mind from the start that it is Nietzsche’s extraordinary and complex conception of the becoming-human of dissonance that drives this exploration of the Hallelujah effect. Hence Nietzsche’s conception of the becoming-human of dissonance is present from the start, at least conceptually, as it must be in a text that begins with a study of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah sung by k.d. lang, together with an analysis of its dissemination on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter’ (p. 16).

Let me say this at the outset: Babette Babich’s new book, The Hallelujah Effect: Philosophical Reflections on Music, Performance Practice, and Technology, published as part of Ashgate’s Popular and Folk Music series, drastically needed editing. The above lines come from what should be a key passage towards the end of the preface. It is the passage that should have served to outline and justify the relationship between the two main sections of the work, with their markedly different foci on the media-cultural fate of Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah (1984) and Nietzsche’s musings on Greek tragedy. But like so many should-be-key passages in the text, it asserts a link without clarifying its nature. Arguments dissipate into so many clauses snaking around so many topics and interlocutors: ‘The literal Hallelujah effect, as engendered by [John] Cale’s cover, exemplifies Hillel Schartz’s [sic] notion, as Robert Fink’s also appropriates this for musicology, as [Erik] Steinskog also quotes Fink of the “culture of the copy”, of American culture’ (p. 81); ‘If one writes, as [Bryan] Appleyard, [Michael] Barthel, and others write, about Cohen’s Hallelujah, they’ll be damned, this is homophobia, but it is also more generically female-phobic, if they write about k.d. lang’ (p. 89). These are not isolated examples …

http://ml.oxfordjournals.org/content/95/2/291.extract

 

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