Mimesis, Gestures And The Origin Of Neumes In Adorno’s Towards A Theory Of Musical Reproduction (Brief Remarks)





Adorno, Neumatic notation, Mimesis, Cheironomy


Although the paleographical approach remains essential in the scholarly research focused on the origins, dissemination, and functions of the earliest notational systems used in medieval plainsong, historical Musicology is open to new methodologies. This article seeks to analyse some topics about the origins of chant notation from the perspective of the critical theory of Theodor W. Adorno. In his unfinished “Towards a Theory of Musical Reproduction”, Adorno reflected on the specificities of the notational system, which he sought to comprehend in light of the nuclear concept of Mimesis. For him, "the musical symbols chosen to wrest the music are images of gestures", serving the function of social control. Nonetheless the progressive rationalization of music (indispensable for its aesthetic autonomy) has faded its mimetic dimension, the former continues to be remarkable on the graphic signs. It seems important to critically (re)adress this challenging and interpellant theoretical discourse.


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Author Biography

Alberto Medina de Seiça, CESEM / Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Alberto Medina de Seiça completed his doctorate in Musical Sciences at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at the University of Lisbon, in Historical Musical Sciences, about: Humanismo e cantochão em Portugal: tradição e reforma do repertório da Missa (Humanism and plainsong in Portugal: tradition and reform of the Mass repertoire) under the scientific supervision of Prof. Manuel Pedro Ferreira. He has collaborated with CESEM (Centre for the Study of Sociology and Musical Aesthetics) in the Portuguese Early Music Database project, with descriptions of musical manuscripts. Parallel to his academic training in Law (Licentiate and Master's Degree by the University of Coimbra), he studied general music (course at the Diocesan School of Sacred Music - Coimbra) and attended several seminars on Gregorian chant (Cremona, Italy) and choral conducting. Since 2000 he has been a teacher at the Sacred Music Diocesan School of Coimbra, a trainer in the Gregorian chant courses organised by the Ward Centre in Lisbon; and he has directed numerous workshops on Gregorian chant and sacred music. In terms of musical practice, he has worked as choral director: Coro Litúrgico de Tentúgal (1987-1998); Coro Litúrgico de S. José (1998-2013); Coro da Sé Catedral de Coimbra (2009-2013); Coro do Santuário de Fátima (2013-2016); Capela Gregoriana Psalterium (since 1999) and Coro Vox Aetherea (since 2000).


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How to Cite

Seiça, Alberto Medina de. 2021. “Mimesis, Gestures And The Origin Of Neumes In Adorno’s Towards A Theory Of Musical Reproduction (Brief Remarks)”. Per Musi, no. 40 (May):1-23. https://doi.org/10.35699/2317-6377.2020.25895.



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