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Document Type

Journal Article

Department/Unit

Department of Music

Title

Revisiting ‘Le bon goût’: Observations on the irregularities and inconsistencies in French harpsichord music 1650–1730

Language

English

Abstract

Scholars working on French keyboard music from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries have been strongly aware of the close connection between music and language. By mapping linguistic ideas to musical thoughts, this study identifies the origins of this connection and traces how stylistic changes and performance attitudes were influenced by linguistic concepts. During the seventeenth century, in both musical and linguistic realms, an awareness of a certain weakness in existing language led to attempts to purify it. From the 1650s, the desire for logic, clarity, and order also shaped the development of French keyboard music and propelled the rationalization of usage in music. This development paralleled, to a certain extent, the codification of the French language. In both cases, such classification was, however, only partial. By resorting to the notion of le bon goût, musicians silently confessed to the greater variety that took place in practical music-making when compared to theoretical rules. An enriched understanding of le bon goût within a broader cultural context refines our approach to performing this music. © 2011 The Author.

Publication Date

2011

Source Publication Title

Music and Letters

Volume

92

Issue

2

Start Page

183

End Page

201

Publisher

Oxford University Press

ISSN (print)

00274224

ISSN (electronic)

14774631

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