In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

332 Leonardo Reviews third chapter, entitled “Unity of Macroand Micro-Cosmos and the Problem of Multidimensional Thinking,” shows that in present-day music the idea of macro- and microcosmic unity is the basis of compositional method. Everything is logical here (if we agree with the initial statements of the author). As a result, Magnitskaya arrives at a quite normal and trustworthy conclusion : the cosmos has become a significant object of creative interpretation in the music of our century; this “musical” cosmos represents a certain model, in which the artistic senses, images, symbols , patterns and all other means of expression reconstruct different phenomena of cosmic reality. The book contains a detailed bibliography in many different languages; it covers such fields of knowledge as philosophy , theology, esoterics, cosmology, history and music theory. At the end of the book is an impressive catalogue of musical works dedicated to the cosmic theme (by C. Ives, O. Messiaen, P. Boulez, E. Varese, A. Schnitke, M. Kagel, E. Denisov, D. Cage, K. Penderecky and others); also a great number of music examples are given. All this alone is indicative of the indubitable value of this work. We can agree or disagree with the logic of the specific statements of the author; nonetheless, we can say that any conceptual reasonings and arguments based on the comparison of “music and cosmos” are exactly as legitimate and convincing as (in poetry) any high-style analogies, e.g. “woman is the acme of perfection,” or “women are the flowers of life” . . . Especially if done finely, with subtlety. MADONNA: DE VELE GEZICHTEN VAN EEN POPSTER (MADONNA: THE MANY FACES OF A POPSTAR) by Hannah Bosma and Patricia Pisters. Prometheus, Amsterdam, 1999. 204 pp., paper. ISBN: 90-5333-6990. Reviewed by Murat Aydemir, Plantage Middenlaan 26 IV, 1018 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: . Under the general subject heading of “Madonna,” scholars have begun to develop an arguably new kind of cultural text or discourse, related to fields as varied as cultural studies, film and television studies, literary theory, sociology, media studies and the like. Madonna: The Many Faces of a Popstar is perhaps unprecedented in its very insistence in refusing conventional disciplinary and conventional cultural boundaries. A veritable mixed-media conundrum consisting of verbal, musical and visual signs, the text spans a wide range of disciplines , appealing to both avant-garde and popular appreciation. However, the supposed ephemerality of enjoying the Madonna text merely for its aesthetic or entertainment qualities is continually accompanied by heavy-handed sociological, political and moral concerns . As such, then, Madonna offers something of a field-day for interpretative and semiotic efforts. Acting as an irresistible lure, the text begs to be analyzed , while at the same time defying the usual ways of grasping onto and evaluating cultural phenomena. Hannah Bosma, a musicologist, and Patricia Pisters, a film and television scholar—both working at the University of Amsterdam and The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)— form a particularly apt pair to engage the “Madonna”-text. Their book presents seven short chapters in which they discuss theoretical issues and provide close readings of Madonna’s performances (for want of a better term). A genuinely interdisciplinary endeavor, these close readings elegantly prevent one medium from overtaking the other, carefully teasing out and weighing Madonna’s imagery, verbal texts, sounds, vocal modulations and cultural references. The authors’ detailed attention to the intricacies of Madonna’s music and voice is noteworthy, especially for a subject who is almost exclusively accessed (disturbingly in step with cultural, social and gender bias) within the province of the visual. Madonna’s work is usually discussed in terms of icon, look, and image, while the auditory import is usually regarded as mere vehicle. It is much harder (and quite rare, at least as far as I know) to do specifically musical and auditory “reading” of her work. Having said that, I must add that in this book, too, the visual and musical readings remain relatively separate, so that a truly integrated reading of Madonna is still called for. Chapter one investigates Madonna at the threshold between the binary of “low” and “high” culture, with its insistence on the difference between art and entertainment, expression and...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 332-333
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.