Adorno and Musical Temporality: Painting with Music in the Mansion Built of Dogshit


This is my undergraduate dissertation submitted at the University of Brighton. The dissertation is an examination of musical temporality as conceived by Theodor Adorno. I argue that Adorno was far from an elitist, although he may have been a snob. Negative dialectics is a system of thinking that refuses to allow for stasis and reification. Because of this, thinking remains in check and is refused the opportunity to see itself as identical to the world it seeks to understand. From here, I examine what art means for Adorno. Art is not supposed to be pleasing, is not supposed to be entertainment. I focus specifically on musical temporality in order to show that way that art can be thoroughly critical without adhering to the desires of outside forces. The final chapter gives a critique of the limits of Adorno’s ideas and show that there is still a way to be critical in music while thinking through the framework of negative dialectics. I argue that free improvisation offers a way of thinking about musical temporality that is both critical and artistic.

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