This article discusses the emancipatory potential of critical formalism, a mode of critique that may be helpful in revealing to music students the taken-for-granted nature of some common musical and educational notions whose socially constructed nature may not always appear evident. The work is presented in two parts: “theory” and “praxis.” The theoretical component briefly outlines the notion of critical formalism as loosely derived from Adorno’s aesthetic theory, and the practical component illustrates two examples of reified forms that may be subject to such critique. First, Louth discusses the idea of critiquing theoretical musical structures insofar as they function normatively. Then, by way of showing how critical formalism can be broadened to encompass a kind of meta-analysis, the issue of instructional language in music classes, in both spoken and textual variations, is examined.


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pp. 117-134
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