Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 September 2019
Expands on aspects of ‘affective sociability’, discussing its relationship to notions of expression, individuality and feeling. I discuss those gentler elements of the aesthetic of the time - simplicity, naturalness, moderation, grace - that have proved stumbling-blocks for later generations of critics, and the way in which they crystallized in the widespread vaunting of the powers of pure melody, discreetly accompanied. Pleasure and politeness are also discussed as parts of this same discursive field. On the other hand, just as fundamental to the music of the time is its ambivalence of tone: the uncertainty about whether a particular musical passage or gesture is to be taken on face value or not. This entails a consideration of various forms of double meaning - whether accounted for as humour, wit, comedy or irony - that are so common in this instrumental repertoire. A corollary of these is a decidedly anti-scholastic, anti-authoritarian orientation in a style that is keen to avoid any perceived pedantry. I then focus on works and movements set in the minor mode, the common critical praise of which is often directed against the sorts of attributes I have considered earlier in the chapter.