Publications on Musicology and Aesthetics

Cazden’s theoretical writings emphasize the act of creativity within a human context. He openly opposed the arbitrary constraints or deliberate randomness favored by some of his contemporaries.

“Music is not made by the strings of the lyre; it is made by the musician who both fashions and plays the lyre, and this musician cannot but reflect the historically evolved human world which forms the only setting for musical art.”

—Norman Cazden, Pythagoras and Aristoxenos Reconciled (1958)

“The doctrine of ‘pure art’ tends to remove the arts from their role in human life, which is their sole reason for being. …In isolating the purely formal properties of art we depart sharply from the real base of artistic creation; we ignore the inextricable relations between those forms and the human substance of which they are the media of expression.”

—Norman Cazden, Pure Art and the “Law of Nature” in Music (1948.)

“Twelve-tone technique is ultimately a most tedious procedure for composing non-music. … its principle excludes the chief condition of the art of music proper, which is that its processes be perceptible, intelligible and enjoyable as heard by human beings.”

—Norman Cazden, How to Compose Non-Music (1961)

” Freedom in art forms does not mean anarchy; it means limitation, selection, rigorous elimination of the irrelevant, and concentrated organization of the intrinsic material.”

-Norman Cazden (1943). On Dancing to Bach. In K. Teck (Ed.),
Making Music for Modern Dance: Collaboration in the Formative Years
of a New American Art
(p. 30), Oxford University Press, New York.

“Those who had the privilege of knowing Norman Cazden and to engage him in scholarly discussions were constantly impressed by the scope of his learning. Not only was he at home in Western art music and all its periods, he was equally well versed in the literature of musical psychology, acoustics, esthetics and folklore. As a researcher, he demonstrated a remarkable independence. Although he revered the views of authorities, he was not afraid to challenge them. Among his critical essays the best are those wherein he probes into the musical theories of his contemporaries, pointing out their weaknesses through his broad and diverse learning.”

— Stephen Erdely, Ethnomusicology Journal, September 1981, pp 493-95, “In Memoriam.”


Title DateReference
Musical Consonance and Dissonance: A Cultural Criterion1945The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, v4 n1 (19450901): 3-11
Sound, Tone and Music.1949Baltimore : Peabody Conservatory of Music, 1949.
Folk Idiom vs. Synthetic Language for the Composer1952American music teacher, vol. 1, no. 5, May-June 1952
Mozart in Current Musical Esthetics1953Science & Society, v17 n1 (19530101): 65-71
Hindemith and Nature1954reprinted from The music review, v. 15, no. 4, November, 1954
Tonal function and sonority in the study of harmony1954Journal of Research in Music Education, v2 n1 (19540401): 21-34
Humor in the Music of Stravinsky and Prokofiev1954Science & Society, v18 n1 (19540101): 52-74
Realism in Abstract Music1955Music & Letters, v36 n1 (19550101): 17-38
Pythagoras and Aristoxenos Reconciled1958Journal of the American Musicological Society, v11 n2/3 (19580701): 97-105
The Principle of Direction in the Motion of Similar Tonal Harmonies1958Journal of Music Theory, v2 n2 (19581101): 162-192
Acoustique musicale Francois Canac1961Journal of the American Musicological Society, v14 n1 (196104): 92-95
How to Compose Non-Music1961Journal of Music Theory, v5 n2 (19611298)
Staff Notation as a Non-Musical Communications Code1961Journal of Music Theory, v5 n1 (19610401): 113-128
Sensory Theories of Musical Consonance1962The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, v20 n3 (19620401): 301-319
Composing with a Clob1967[Cambridge] : [Heffer & Sons], 1967.
The Systemic Reference of Musical Consonance Response1972International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, v3 n2 (19721201): 217-245
The Definition of Consonance and Dissonance1980International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, v11 n2 (19801201): 123-168

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