Unperformable Works and the Ontology of Music

British Journal of Aesthetics 56 (1):67-81 (2016)
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Abstract

Some artworks—works of music, theatre, dance, and the like—are works for performance. Some works for performance are, I contend, unperformable. Some such works are unperformable by beings like us; others are unperformable given our laws of nature; still others are unperformable given considerations of basic logic. I offer examples of works for performance—focusing, in particular, on works of music—that would fit into each of these categories, and go on to defend the claim that such ‘works’ really are genuine works, musical works and works for performance. I then argue that the very possibility of such works is ontologically significant. In particular, the possibility of these works raises serious problems for type-theoretic accounts of the ontology of music as well as certain mereological or constitution-based accounts

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Wesley Cray
Texas Christian University

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