Music Hath Charms: Ritual, History, and Representation


ACLS Fellowship Program


Religious Studies


“Music Hath Charms” makes three fundamental claims. First, it argues that musicology, particularly musical semiology, affords valuable resources for the field of ritual studies. Second, it shows that a ritual studies perspective, especially a practice approach, applied to musical works in the western "classical" tradition opens new avenues for interpretation and understanding. And third, it suggests that these two converse claims have their common ground in the intertwined intellectual and cultural histories of ritual and music in the west. Through close readings of important musical works, inflected by both modern and contemporary discourses on ritual and history, this study argues for an interdisciplinary, comparative approach to elite cultural products in their intellectual and aesthetic contexts.