Truth in Music: Form, Fashion, Flattery, Forgeries, and Fakes

Hank Reynolds

We frequently think about music in terms of its beauty or sometimes its goodness. But should we also search for truth in music? What would count as musically true or musically false? The answer depends to a large extent on understanding the types of imitation that one finds in music: imitations that lend integrity and those that detract from it. We will look at various types of musical imitation across time: the imitation that gives form to Bach’s music, musical text painting of the Romantic era, stylistic formulas in popular music, and imitations that cross the line into plagiarism.

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