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

“The Hallelujah Effect: Philosophical Reflections on Music, Performance Practice, and Technology” is a book written by philosopher and musicologist David Elliott. In this book, Elliott explores the profound impact of music on human experience, focusing on its ability to evoke powerful emotions, foster connections between individuals, and shape cultural identity.

The title “The Hallelujah Effect” alludes to the transformative power of music, likening it to the feeling of exaltation or transcendence often associated with the word “hallelujah.” Through philosophical reflections and interdisciplinary insights, Elliott delves into various aspects of music, performance practice, and technology, examining their roles in shaping our understanding of music’s significance in human life.

Key themes explored in the book may include:

1. **Embodied Experience**: Elliott delves into the embodied experience of music, emphasizing its physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions. He discusses how music activates the senses, stimulates the imagination, and resonates with our innermost feelings and desires.

2. **Cultural Context**: The book explores the cultural, historical, and social contexts that shape our relationship with music. Elliott examines how musical traditions, genres, and practices reflect and influence broader cultural norms, values, and identities.

3. **Performance Practice**: Elliott reflects on the art of musical performance, considering the nuances of interpretation, expression, and communication inherent in live music-making. He explores the ways in which performers engage with and convey the meaning of music through their creative interpretations and personal experiences.

4. **Technology**: Elliott examines the impact of technology on music production, distribution, and consumption. He considers how advancements in recording technology, digital media, and online platforms have transformed the way we access, share, and interact with music.

Overall, “The Hallelujah Effect” offers philosophical insights into the transformative power of music and its profound significance in human life. Through thoughtful reflections and interdisciplinary perspectives, Elliott invites readers to contemplate the complex interplay between music, performance practice, and technology, and to appreciate the enduring beauty and depth of the musical experience.

Table of Contents

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

 

 

“The Hallelujah Effect: Philosophical Reflections on Music, Performance Practice, and Technology” could encompass a comprehensive exploration of the multifaceted relationship between music, performance practices, and technology from a philosophical perspective. Here’s an outline of potential themes and topics that could be covered in such a work:

1. **The Power of Music**: The book could begin by examining the profound impact of music on human emotions, cognition, and culture. It could explore philosophical perspectives on the nature of music and its role in shaping individual and collective experiences.

2. **Performance Practice and Interpretation**: The book could delve into the philosophy of musical performance, considering questions about authenticity, interpretation, and expression. It could discuss different approaches to performing music and the philosophical implications of performers’ choices.

3. **Technology and Musical Creativity**: The role of technology in music creation and production could be a central theme. The book could explore how advancements in recording, synthesizers, digital effects, and other technologies have influenced musical creativity and artistic expression.

4. **Digital Culture and Music Consumption**: The impact of digital technology on music consumption habits, distribution channels, and audience engagement could be examined. The book could explore philosophical questions about the democratization of music production, the commodification of music, and the ethics of digital piracy.

5. **Virtual Performance Spaces**: With the rise of virtual reality and online platforms, the book could explore the philosophical implications of virtual performance spaces and virtual concerts. It could consider questions about authenticity, presence, and the future of live music experiences.

6. **Ethical and Social Considerations**: Ethical questions related to music technology, such as copyright issues, data privacy concerns, and the influence of algorithms on music recommendation and curation, could be discussed. The book could also address broader social issues, such as inequality in the music industry and the impact of globalization on musical diversity.

7. **The Future of Music and Technology**: Finally, the book could speculate on the future directions of music and technology, considering potential advancements in AI-generated music, immersive audio technologies, and other emerging trends. It could encourage readers to reflect on how these developments may shape the future of musical creativity, performance practices, and cultural identity.

Overall, “The Hallelujah Effect” could offer a thought-provoking exploration of the philosophical dimensions of music, performance practice, and technology, inviting readers to consider the profound ways in which music intersects with human experience and technological innovation.

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