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RAMEAU'S CARTESIAN WONDER

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 February 2017

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Abstract

While Rameau alluded to contemporary notions of musical expression in his theoretical writings, he devoted little effort to explaining how music acted on listeners expressively. This article reviews Rameau's writings to establish and clarify his beliefs about this process, finding that they less resemble what we would think of as the leading edge of contemporary thought – exemplified by Dubos, Estève and the Encyclopedists – than they do the earlier descriptions of Descartes and Malebranche. Following long-standing philosophical tradition, the latter privileged the passion wonder (admiration) as the structural basis for all passions. Rameau in turn staged his theoretical discoveries and responses to music in precisely the same way, as an initial, constitutive experience of wonder that then merged mimetically with subtler passionate responses. He assumed similar responses for those who listened to music. We can attribute Rameau's preference for an old-fashioned explanation of the passions to several factors. Notably, according to the principles of his theoretical system, he needed to isolate and describe music as an object that acted on the beholder's mind, whereas later writers concerned themselves more with the beholder's sensory and emotional responses. Moreover, Rameau's argument was an effective response to conservative music critics, who attacked him for introducing overly sensual elements into music.

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Footnotes

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Jean-Philippe Rameau: International Anniversary Conference, St Hilda's College Oxford, 11–14 September 2014, and at The Life of the Mind: Literature, Aesthetics, and the ‘Sciences de l'homme’, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 16–18 April 2015. The final version has benefitted from suggestions by Thomas Christensen, Tili Boon Cuillé, Brian Hyer, Margaret Miner, Florence Vatan and Cynthia Verba. Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are my own.

References

1 On the importance of wonder in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thought see Vasalou, Sophia, Wonder: A Grammar (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015), 18, 21Google Scholar; Gobert, R. Darren, The Mind-Body State: Passion and Interaction in the Cartesian Theater (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013), 4348 CrossRefGoogle Scholar and 63–79; Brown, Deborah J., Descartes and the Passionate Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 410 CrossRefGoogle Scholar and 142–146; Fisher, Philip, The Vehement Passions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 12 Google Scholar and 28; Fisher, Philip, Wonder, the Rainbow, and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998)Google Scholar; Daston, Lorraine and Park, Katherine, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 (New York: Zone, 1998), 304316 Google Scholar and 324–326; James, Susan, Passion and Action: The Emotions in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997), 169170 Google Scholar and 187–189; Gaukroger, Stephen, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995), 394403 Google Scholar.

2 Nicolas Boileau's treatment can be found in his 1674 translation of Longinus, Le Traité du sublime, in Oeuvres diverses du sieur D*** avec le traité du sublime ou du merveilleux dans le discours (Paris: Thierry, 1674). Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu's treatment can be found in his posthumously published Essai sur le gout, ed. Charles-Jacques Beyer (Geneva: Droz, 1967).

3 See Straehli, Benjamin, ‘Le Cartésianisme de Rameau: un mythe?’, Revue de musicologie 101 (2014), 5392 Google Scholar.

4 Christensen, Thomas, Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 13 Google Scholar. Regarding the composer's friendships see, for example, Rameau, Jean-Philippe, The Complete Theoretical Writings of Jean-Philippe Rameau, ed. Jacobi, Erwin R., six volumes (American Institute of Musicology, 1967–1972)Google Scholar, volume 1, li (hereafter CTW). For a valuable survey of ideas on music in circulation during the later part of Rameau's career see Verba, Cynthia, Music and the French Enlightenment: Reconstruction of a Dialogue 1750–1764 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993)Google Scholar.

5 Reiss, Timothy J., ‘Cartesian Discourse and Classical Ideology’, Diacritics 6/1 (1976), 19 CrossRefGoogle Scholar (original italics).

6 See Moreno, Jairo, Musical Representations, Subjects, and Objects: The Construction of Musical Thought in Zarlino, Descartes, Rameau, and Weber (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 5085 Google Scholar; van Orden, Kate, ‘Descartes on Musical Training and the Body’, in Music, Sensation, and Sensuality, ed. Austern, Linda Phyllis (London: Routledge, 2002), 1738 Google Scholar; Gaukroger, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography, 74–80; Dumont, Pascal, ‘Introduction’, in Descartes, René, Abrégé de musique suivi des Éclaircissements physiques sur la musique de Descartes du R. P. Nicolas Poisson, trans. Dumont, Pascal (Paris: Mériediens Klincksieck, 1990), 1344 Google Scholar; and de Buzon, Frédéric, ‘Présentation’, in Descartes, René, Abrégé de musique, trans. de Buzon, Frédéric (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1987), 518 Google Scholar.

7 Moreno, Musical Representations, Subjects, and Objects, 55.

8 Moreno, Musical Representations, Subjects, and Objects, 62; Gaukroger, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography, 79.

9 Van Orden, ‘Descartes on Musical Training and the Body’, 18–26.

10 Gaukroger, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography, 75–76; Buzon, ‘Présentation’, 8–9.

11 Dumont, ‘Introduction’, 19–21; Buzon, ‘Présentation’, 12; Van Orden, ‘Descartes on Musical Training and the Body’, 19–26.

12 de Crousaz, Jean-Pierre, Traité du beau (Amsterdam: l'Honoré, 1715; facsimile edition, Geneva: Slatkine, 1970), 171302 Google Scholar.

13 Cohen, David E., ‘The “Gift of Nature”: Musical “Instinct” and Musical Cognition in Rameau’, in Music Theory and Natural Order from the Renaissance to the Early Twentieth Century, ed. Clark, Suzannah and Rehding, Alexander (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 91 Google Scholar. Interestingly, appeals to nature of the kind cited here were not uncommon in Descartes's important sixth meditation (1641), where he laid out the case for distinguishing between mind and body. See Clark, Desmond M., Descartes's Theory of Mind (Oxford: Clarendon, 2003), 118120 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and, more generally, Cohen, ‘The “Gift of Nature”’, 87–92.

14 Bossuet, Jacques-Bénigne, Maximes et reflexions sur la comedie (Paris: Anisson, 1694), 78 Google Scholar.

15 See Arnauld, Antoine, ‘Lettre de monsieur Arnaud docteur de Sorbonne a M. ***’, in Recueil de plusieurs lettres de m. Arnaud docteur de Sorbonne (Cologne: Marteau, 1697), 191229 Google Scholar; Boileau, Nicolas, ‘Satire X’, in Oeuvres poétiques de Boileau, ed. Auger, M. (Paris: Brière, 1825), 143173 Google Scholar; and de Saint-Évremond, Charles, ‘Les Opera, comedie’, in Oeuvres de monsieur de Saint-Evremond, publiées sur les manuscrits de l'auteur, seven volumes (London: Tonson, 1711), volume 3, 211–307Google Scholar.

16 Dumont, ‘Introduction’, 23.

17 Réné Descartes, Oeuvres de Descartes, ed. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery, revised edition, eleven volumes (Paris: Vrin, 1964–1974), volume 1: Correspondance, Avril 1622-Février 1638 (1969), 108. The reticence Descartes displays in this context is not uncommon. On Descartes's correspondence with Mersenne see Dill, Charles, ‘Music, Beauty, and the Paradox of Rationalism’, in French Musical Thought, 1600–1800, ed. Cowart, Georgia (Ann Arbor: UMI, 1989), 197210 Google Scholar.

18 Crousaz, Traité du beau, 171. Compare his introduction of the topic of beauty itself, at the beginning of his treatise (1–2); music thus illustrates in nuce the problems raised by beauty as a topic of enquiry.

19 Cohen, ‘The “Gift of Nature”’, 86.

20 Schuurman, Paul, Ideas, Mental Faculties, and Method: The Logic of Ideas of Descartes and Locke and Its Reception in the Dutch Republic, 1630–1750 (Boston: Brill, 2004), 89109 Google Scholar; de La Harpe, Jacqueline E., Jean-Pierre de Crousaz (1663–1750) et le conflit des idées au siècle des lumières (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955), 206213 Google Scholar.

21 de Crousaz, Jean-Pierre, Systeme de reflexions qui peuvent contribuer à la netteté & l'etendue de nos connoissances: ou nouvel essai de logique, two volumes (Amsterdam: l'Honoré, 1712), volume 1, 275Google Scholar.

22 La Harpe, Jean-Pierre de Crousaz, 207, note 2.

23 [Dubos, Jean-Baptiste,] Reflexions critiques sur la poesie et sur la peinture, two volumes (Paris: Mariette, 1719), volume 2, 307Google Scholar.

24 Dubos, Reflexions critiques, volume 2, 307.

25 Verba, Music and the French Enlightenment, 51 and 73–81.

26 d'Alembert, Jean Le Rond, ‘Discours préliminaire des editeurs’, in Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, thirty-five volumes (Paris: Briasson, David, Le Breton, Durand, 1751–1780), volume 1, iii Google Scholar; d'Alembert, Jean Le Rond, Preliminary Discourse to the Encyclopedia of Diderot, trans. Schwab, Richard N. and Rex, Walter E. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 6 Google Scholar.

27 [Denis Diderot,] Lettre sur les sourds et muets, a l'usage de ceux qui entendent & qui parlent (1751).

28 Cohen, ‘The “Gift of Nature”’, 91–92; Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment, 13. More generally see Verba, Music and the French Enlightenment, 52–54.

29 D'Alembert, ‘Discours préliminaire’, xxix; D'Alembert, Preliminary Discourse, 90.

30 In this context, it is interesting that Yves-Marie André, a follower of Malebranche, would offer a digression on the corps sonore before explaining musical beauty in his Essai sur le beau (1741). See André, Yves-Marie, Essai sur le beau, nouvelle édition (Paris: Ganeau, 1770), 136141 Google Scholar.

31 CTW, volume 1, 158.

32 CTW, volume 3, 6.

33 CTW, volume 3, 29.

34 Verba, Cynthia, ‘Rameau's Views on Modulation and Their Background in French Theory’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 31/3 (1978), 467479 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

35 CTW, volume 1, 192–193. See also CTW, volume 2, 53 and volume 4, 194. This idea is developed at some length in Verba, Cynthia, Dramatic Expression in Rameau's ‘Tragédie en Musique’: Between Tradition and Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36 CTW, volume 2, 53.

37 Compare Verba, Dramatic Expression in Rameau'sTragédie en Musique’, 6, 30 and 36.

38 CTW, volume 3, 296.

39 See, for example, the discussions in Chafe, Eric, Monteverdi's Tonal Language (New York: Schirmer, 1991), 1119 Google Scholar, and Chafe, Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 6589 Google Scholar. For a discussion of Rameau in this context see Verba, Dramatic Expression in Rameau's ‘Tragédie en Musique’, 28–30.

40 CTW, volume 3, 296.

41 de Saussure, Ferdinand, Course in General Linguistics, ed. Bally, Charles and Sechehaye, Albert, trans. Harris, Roy (La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1983), 121132 Google Scholar.

42 CTW, volume 3, 297.

43 ‘The emotions are all those affections which cause men to change their opinion in regard to their judgments, and are accompanied by pleasure and pain; such are anger, pity, fear, and all similar emotions and their contraries’. Aristotle, The ‘Art’ of Rhetoric, trans. Freese, John Henry (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926)Google Scholar, book 2, section 1, line 4.

44 [Malebranche, Nicolas,] De la recherche de la verité (Paris: Pralard, 1674–1675)Google Scholar, volume 2, 141; Malebranche, Nicolas, The Search after Truth, ed. and trans. Lennon, Thomas M. and Olscamp, Paul J. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 347 Google Scholar.

45 CTW, volume 3, 91.

46 Le dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise (Paris: Coignard, 1694), entry for ‘admirer’.

47 Aristotle, Metaphysics, Books I-IX, trans. Tredennick, Hugh (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1933)Google Scholar, book 2, section 1, line 10. More generally see Lear, Jonathan, ‘Kartharsis’, in Essays on Aristotle's Poetics, ed. Rorty, Amélie Oksenberg (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 323324 Google Scholar.

48 Descartes, Oeuvres de Descartes, volume 11: Le monde, Description du corps humain, Passions de l'ame, Anatomica, Varia (1974), 373 and 381; Descartes, Réné, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, three volumes, trans. Cottingham, John, Stoothoff, Robert and Murdoch, Dugald (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985-), volume 1, 350 and 353Google Scholar.

49 Malebranche, De la recherche de la verité, volume 2, 210–211; Malebranche, The Search after Truth, 385, see also 375–376. Descartes's influence can similarly be seen in the Port-Royal Logic, chapter 9. See [Arnauld, Antoine and Nicole, Pierre,] La logique ou l'art de penser (Paris: Guignart, Savreux, Launay, 1672), 7579 Google Scholar.

50 Fisher, The Vehement Passions, 1–2; James, Passion and Action, 169–170.

51 Descartes uses the expression ‘substantial union’ in a January 1642 letter to Henricus Regius: ‘We affirm that human beings are made up of body and soul, not by the mere presence or proximity of one to the other, but by a true substantial union’ (‘Sed quoniam multò plures in eo errant, quod putent animam à corpore non distingui realiter, quàm in eo quod admissâ eius distinctione vnionem substantialem negent’). Descartes, Oeuvres de Descartes, volume 3: Correspondance, Janvier 1640-Juin 1643 (1969), 508; Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, volume 3, 209. See also his correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia of 28 June 1643. Descartes, Réné and Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, The Correspondence between Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia and Réné Descartes, ed. and trans. Shapiro, Lisa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 65 and 71Google Scholar. On the importance of substantial union, both with respect to Descartes's thought in general and to his treatment of the passions in particular, see Brown, Descartes and the Passionate Mind, 5–10, and Gaukroger, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography, 389–391.

52 Descartes, Oeuvres de Descartes, volume 11, 172; Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, volume 1, 349.

53 Descartes, Oeuvres de Descartes, volume 11, 381–382; Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, volume 1, 353. Compare the decidedly anti-Cartesian approach of Boileau, who in his translation of Longinus's Le traité du sublime (1674) treated wonder as simply one way among many of experiencing the sublime.

54 CTW, volume 1, 1. Compare Descartes on wonder, Oeuvres de Descartes, volume 11, 386: ‘This passion seems to diminish with use, because the more one encounters rare things that are admired, the more one is accustomed to ceasing to admire them and to thinking that all those that present themselves thereafter are vulgar’ (‘Et bien que cette passion semble se diminuer par l'usage, à cause que, plus on rencontre de choses rares qu'on admire, plus on s'accoustume à cesser de les admirer, & à penser que toutes celles qui se peuvent presenter par apres sont vulgaires’).

55 See, for example, the following passage from the Encyclopédie volume 6, 318: ‘In 1735, Les Indes galantes appeared to be insurmountably difficult; the majority of audience members left the theatre complaining about music overloaded with semiquavers, of which nothing could be remembered. Six months later, all of the airs from the overture to the last gavotte were parodied and known to everyone. At the revival in 1751, our parterre sang “Brillant soleil”, etc., with as much ease as our fathers psalmized “Armide est encore plus aimable”, etc.’. (‘Les Indes galantes, en 1735, paroissoient d'une difficulté insurmontable; le gros des spectateurs sortoit en déclamant contre une musique surchargée de doubles croches, dont on ne pouvoit rien retenir. Six mois après, tous les airs depuis l'ouverture jusqu’à la derniere gavote, furent parodiées & sûs de tout le monde. A la reprise de 1751, notre parterre chantoit brillant soleil, &c. avec autant de facilité que nos peres psalmodioient Armide est encore plus aimable, &c’).

56 CTW, volume 3, 172.

57 See also the Generation, CTW, volume 3, 9: ‘It was already a great deal for me to have discovered this fundamental bass, which I announced in my Traité de l'harmonie; it could be said that this was the purest ray of light, of which in truth the source was still unknown to me: I began to glimpse this source in my Nouveau systême’ (‘C’étoit déjà beaucoup pour moi d'avoir découvert cette Basse fondamentale, telle que je l'announce dans mon Traité de l'Harmonie; on peut dire que c'est le plus pur raïon d'une luminaire, dont, à la vérité, la source m’étoit encore inconnue; j'ai commencé à l'entrevoir, cette source, dans mon nouveau Systême, & je crois maintenant la toucher de prés’). With respect to Rameau's recurring use of light imagery in the context of wonder, it is worth noting that philosophers had associated wonder with the observation and study of rainbows from the time of Aristotle and Plato through to that of Rameau. See Fisher, Wonder, the Rainbow, and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences, 1–31. For an interesting linking of wonder, rainbows and the passions in Descartes's thought see 41–45.

58 CTW, volume 1, 140 and volume 4, 244. The smaller scope of wonder in this context is not inconsistent with our larger topic. See Fisher, Wonder, the Rainbow, and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences, 61–67. In this way, we have to be careful about applying post-Kantian notions of the sublime to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century notions of wonder; the kind of wonder Descartes and Rameau discuss is equally applicable to awe-inspiring events and to the je ne sais quoi as precursor to more complex emotional responses. See Scholar, Richard, The Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi in Early Modern Europe: Encounters with a Certain Something (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 195200 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

59 Compare [de Mably, Gabriel Bonnot,] Lettres à madame la marquise de P . . . sur l'Opéra (Paris: Didot, 1741; facsimile edition, New York: AMS Press, 1978), 33 Google Scholar: ‘Although the sounds of an instrument signify nothing by themselves, is it not experienced every day that they cause various transports in the soul?’ (‘Quoique les sons d'un instrument ne signifient rien par eux-mêmes, n’éprouve-t-on pas tous les jours qu'ils causent à l'ame différens transports?’).

60 Descartes's treatment of the rainbow similarly relies on greater and smaller demonstrations of wonder. See Fisher, Wonder, the Rainbow, and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences, 87–120.

61 CTW, volume 1, 171.

62 CTW, volume 1, 191.

63 CTW, volume 3, 261.

64 CTW, volume 4, 189: ‘Harmony, in its primitive and natural state such as the corps sonore presents it to us (and of which our voice is part), should produce in us, who are passive harmonic bodies, the most natural effect and, consequently, the effect most common to all’ (‘L'Harmonie, dans son état primitif & naturel, tel que la donnent les corps sonores, dont notre voix fait partie, doit produire sur nous, qui sommes des corps passivement harmoniques, l'effet le plus naturel, & par conséquent le plus commun à tous’).

65 CTW, volume 4, 189–190: ‘If one then takes as the lowest note [in a harmony] the one nearest the initial low note, allowing it to be heard in the same harmony, then these two low notes, which pleased when they were heard together, will undoubtedly also please when heard in succession, since in each case the same harmony will produce the same effect on the soul’ (‘Qu'on prenne ensuite pour son grave le plus prochain du premier grave, en lui faisant entendre au dessus la même harmonie, ces deux mêmes sons graves, qui lui auront plû ensemble, lui plairont sans doute également à la suite l'un de l'autre, puisque la même harmonie de chaque côté ne pourra produire sur son ame que le même effet’).

66 CTW, volume 4, 190. Given Rameau's description of wonder in the context of the enharmonic genus (‘la surprise passe comme un éclair’), it is worth noting the etymological relationship in French between the verb he uses in this passage, étonner, and the noun tonerre, rendering the French expression of surprise as something akin to the English word thunderstruck. Compare Fisher, Wonder, the Rainbow, and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences, 47.

67 Compare Mably, Lettres à madame la marquise de P . . . sur l'Opéra, 48–49: ‘Not all passions can be linked with music: rage, suffering, joy, fear, vengeance and hope are well suited to song’ (‘Toutes les passions ne peuvent pas s'allier avec la Musique. La colere, la douleur, la joye, la crainte, la vengeance, l'espérance sont très-propres au chant’).

68 Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment, 218–231. For related discussions of Pigmalion see Burgess, Geoffrey, ‘Enlightening Harmonies: Rameau's corps sonore and the Representation of the Divine in the tragédie en musique ’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 65/2 (2012), 407410 Google Scholar; Chua, Daniel K. L., Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 98101 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Hyer, Brian, ‘“Sighing Branches”: Prosopopoeia in Rameau's “Pigmalion”’, Music Analysis 13/1 (1994), 750 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, which pays particular attention to Rameau's portrayal of Pygmalion's wonder.

69 PIGMALION, | ACTE DE BALLET, | MIS EN MUSIQUE | PAR M. RAMEAU. | Et exécuté pour la premiére fois par l'Académie Royale de Musique, | le 27. Août 1748. | Le prix six livres. | A PARIS, | Chez { | L'AUTEUR, ruë Saint Honoré, vis-à-vis le Caffé de Dupuis. | La Veuve BOIVIN, ruë Saint Honoré, à la Regle d'Or. | M. LECLAIR, ruë du Roule, à la Croix d'Or.} | AVEC APPROBATION ET PRIVILEGE DU ROI, 12–13.

70 Thomas, Downing A., Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Régime, 1647–1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 166167 Google Scholar.

71 Bloechl, Olivia provides a survey of these approaches in her review of Verba, Dramatic Expression in Rameau'sTragédie en Musique’ , in Journal of the American Musicological Society 68/1 (2015), 229233 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

72 Verba, Dramatic Expression in Rameau'sTragédie en Musique’, 5.

73 Verba, Dramatic Expression in Rameau'sTragédie en Musique’, 37–38. See also 5 and 35.

74 Verba, Dramatic Expression in Rameau'sTragédie en Musique’, 6, 30 and 36.

75 See Descartes, Réné, Les passions de l'ame. Le monde, ou Traité de la lumiere. et La Geometrie, revised edition (Paris: la Compagnie des libraires, 1726)Google Scholar.

76 Dubos, Réflexions critiques, volume 1, 100 and 394; volume 2, 18.

77 Dubos, Reflexions critiques, volume, 305. On the emerging importance of sensibilité with respect to music see Cowart, Georgia, ‘Sense and Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Musical Thought’, Acta musicologica 56/2 (1984), 251266 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

78 [Estève, Pierre,] L'esprit des beaux arts, two volumes (Paris: Bauche, 1753), volume 2, 2Google Scholar.

79 Estève, L'esprit des beaux arts, volume 1, 226–227.

80 Montesquieu makes for an interesting comparison. Given his training at Juilly and his friendship with Fontenelle, it is not surprising that elements reminiscent of Descartes, such as his treatment of body and soul and his mention of animal spirits, figure prominently in his incomplete Essai sur le gout, published posthumously following Voltaire's entry on taste in the fifth volume of the Encyclopédie. Surprise figures prominently in Montesquieu's thoughts on taste without taking on the kind of structural role that wonder assumes in Descartes's and Rameau's thought. Rather, it is simply one attribute of aesthetic experience among many. (In this it resembles Boileau's thought more than Descartes's.) It is noteworthy in this context that Montesquieu does consider elements of more recent theories, such as Dubos's, asserting that attributes like beauty belong to perceptions of objects rather than to the objects themselves. See Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, Essai sur le gout and, more generally, Downing A. Thomas, ‘Negotiating Taste in Montesquieu’, Eighteenth-Century Studies 39/1 (2005), 71–90. For an older example that more closely resembles Rameau's thought structurally see Norman, Larry F.’s discussion of Perrault, Charles’s Parallèle des anciens et modernes (1688–1697) in The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 159160 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

81 See Jacobi's discussion of Estève's Nouvelle découverte du principe de l'harmonie, avec un examen de ce que M. Rameau a publié sous le titre de Démonstration de ce principe, in CTW, volume 3, xlix.

82 There is particular irony in Rameau's having conceived the transformation scene in Pigmalion (1745) in Cartesian terms, given the importance of animated statues in French philosophy. It is useful to recall, however, that Ovid's story was already quite popular by this time and that Rameau composed his opera prior to the best-known discussions of animated statues, those by Condillac and Diderot. On the popularity of the Pygmalion theme in the eighteenth century see Carr, J. L., ‘Pygmalion and the Philosophes: The Animated Statue in Eighteenth-Century France’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 23/3–4 (1960), 239255 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The only contemporary philosophical treatment of the Pygmalion theme readily available at the time Rameau composed his opera was André-François Boureau-Deslandes's controversial but widely circulated Pigmalion, ou la Statue animée (1741), which did in fact adopt a sensationalist viewpoint.

83 Dubos, Reflexions critiques, volume 1, 681.

84 Interestingly, Rameau's later quarrels with the Encyclopedists revolved around just this kind of distinction. D'Alembert willingly granted Rameau the utility of the basse fondamentale, but had little use for his geometrical proofs and grand philosophical claims. See Cernuschi, Alain, Penser la musique dans l'Encylopédie: étude sur les enjeux de la musicographie des lumières et sur ses liens avec l'encyclopédisme (Paris: Champion, 2000), 355361 Google Scholar, and Christensen, Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment, 268–276. As George L. Hersey points out, admiration did continue to play an important, if decidedly different, role in French art even among the Encyclopedists. See his Falling in Love with Statues: Artificial Humans from Pygmalion to the Present (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 97–99. My argument here concerns the shape and structure of Rameau's particular usage, what Foucault would have called its ‘conditions of possibility’ within Rameau's epistemology.

85 ‘Lettre de M. *** à Mlle *** sur l'origine de la musique’, Mercure de France (May 1734), 861–870 and 864.

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