Skip to main content


Jazz, Meditation, Ontology

Thursday Lecture Series, Altered States

dateMarch 24, 2016 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • David Gutkin
  • Audience open exclusively to Columbia faculty, and students
  • All others interested in attending, please email SOF/Heyman at [email protected].
Six identical headshots of person with eyes closed and mouth open, tinted white and purple

While the ontology of musical works is a venerable theme in the philosophy of music, works of classical music have been the primary focus of study. This talk displaces that focus by considering the ontology of musical works in relation to jazz “standards.” Responding primarily to realist conceptions of musical works for performance, Professor Kane outlines an emergent, non-essentialist, network-based ontology of jazz standards. By focusing on two key operations—replication and nomination—a philosophical and musicological argument is presented where "work-determinative" properties are shown to be sufficient but not necessary. Under this concept, works are corrigible and subject to mediation. Not only do subsequent performances change the nature of the work, the very act of "replication" (or musical reproduction) requires social mediation. After presenting the argument, a series of broad contrasts are drawn between the network-based concept of musical works and the realist view.