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A Biopolitical Methodology for Examining Legitimation in Academic Music Circles


The focus of music history is not evenly distributed. Why is it that we seem to learn about and hear the music of the same groups of composers for the duration of our university educations? How is it that many innovative and groundbreaking musical experiments conducted by women and other groups have gone largely unnoticed by mainstream scholarship?

Enlisting the help of Michel Foucault, who provides a framework for conceptualizing the distribution and production of power, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, who pinpoint the operation of power within the modern individual, and Judith Butler, who discusses the social and co-constitutive nature of reality and identity, I use the analytic of the grain (a flexible and metaphorical tool for tracing flows of power and normativity) to expose the effects of social behaviors on aesthetic validation and visibility. As corporeal sites for this research, I use three case studies of creative pairs (Fredric Chopin/George Sand, John Cage/Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros/Annea Lockwood) to trace how my grains of normative and deviant behavior, formulated from a cultural standpoint, feed a view of reality and history that is more homogenous than empirical observation reveals on a day-to-day basis.

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