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Gabriel Kahane’s (b. 1981) diverse musical output includes two pieces with a special relationship: a song called “Bradbury (304 Broadway)” (2014) and a string quartet, Bradbury Studies (2015). Kahane calls Studies a deconstruction of the song. I take a two-fold path in this paper, arguing that the paired Bradbury Pieces embody deconstruction in both a loose, popular sense, and in a strict Derridean sense. Studies is what I call a popular deconstruction of “Bradbury” in that it reconfigures and re-presents formal sections and smaller aspects of the song with varying degrees of abstraction from their original appearances. Popular deconstruction occurs on the small scale and is also writ large across the form of the piece. Studies is in a cumulative form that gradually reveals the original song. The pairing of the song and Studies, what I call the Bradbury pieces, also comprises a deconstruction in the Derridean sense. Jacques Derrida’s method of deconstruction involved short-circuiting hierarchies. By examining a hierarchical binary (like melody/harmony or nature/culture), he could undo the premises of the hierarchy and instead show that the terms are contained within each other. Anything falling within one of these binaries wasn’t one or the other, but rather existing in a liminal area between the two. The Bradbury pieces together deconstruct the hierarchical binary of concert music and popular music, and thus the binary of composer and singer-songwriter. Deconstructing these binaries is important to Kahane because he sees them as too often dominating journalists’ and others’ discourse regarding new music.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Event location
    • Shott Auditorium

  • Event date
    • 2 December 2017

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022