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Theodor W. Adorno and jazz: developments, contradictions and ruptures of a critical diagnosis

Grant number: 21/03196-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2021
Effective date (End): January 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology
Principal Investigator:Ricardo Musse
Grantee:Lucas Fiaschetti Estevez
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This project intends to focus on the criticism of jazz by Theodor W. Adorno through a socio-historical approach that addresses the formation, development and possible contradictions of his position throughout his work. The author's interpretation of this topic has been the subject of intense debate for decades, although it has not yet been studied more seriously in the Brazilian intellectual context. Recurrent reading tends to characterize his position as an unhistorical and dogmatic denial of this music. However, we take as a hypothesis that such criticisms start from a confusion regarding the historically determined type of jazz that appears as an object of analysis by the author. Seeing to clarify this debate, our first objective is to proceed with a chronological analysis of the adornian interpretation regarding this object, based on a detailed study of the evolution of his ideas in his main texts, thus providing an overview of the general movement of his argumentation. As a second objective, we will characterize the musical contexts with which Adorno had contact, in order to make clear which specific type of jazz appears as the object of his interpretation. Finally, we aim to place the late developments of his criticism in the light of the profound aesthetic, social and commercial transformations suffered by jazz from the second half of the twentieth century, establishing a dialogue with literature about history and the new reality acquired by that music. This point will serve to verify our second hypothesis, that Adorno's criticism of jazz should not be seen at first as a stricto sensu theory about a musical genre, but as a model of relevant criticism to understand the current cultural industry and the musical genres that circulate in it. (AU)

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