Baroque music, postmodern knowledge: an epistemological analysis of Susan McClary’s article “The blasphemy of talking politics during Bach Year” (1987)

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An epistemological analysis is used to discuss the manner in which Susan McClary has constructed meaning around music in her article “The blasphemy of talking politics during Bach Year” (1987). McClary’s article shows the transition between modernist (‘old’) to postmodern (‘new’) musicology through a socially and politically grounded interpretation of Bach’s music, in which she engages with earlier viewpoints and legitimises her own through the construction of a micro-narrative that incorporates postmodern debates. This epistemological analysis challenges the reader to think critically about how musicological epistemology changed at the end of the previous century in order to gain insight into how the meanings that surround music are being formed in the present day, and to decide whether or not that meaning is legitimate and satisfactory.