Abstract

The author posits that a dynamic of sadomasochistic pleasure is at work in contempo-rary music. The rise both of compositions that equal a set of technical instructions and of perhaps impossible requirements upon performers can be seen to make the act of taking pleasure in their execution a form of masochism. The audiences of increasingly intellectualized musical styles could be said to enjoy a similar relationship to performance. And in the more physical “noise music,” the intended effect is often not auditory pleasure but suffering. The author recounts a number of sources in his discussion, from Freud to Nietzsche, Adorno, Schumann and Stockhausen.

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