To consider how and why Bernard Germain, Comte de Lacépède's La Poëtique de la musiquediffers from M. P. Gui de Chabanon's contemporaneous De la Musique, I analyze key issues in relation to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's views. I propose that the varied critical perspectives of Lacépède and of Chabanon stem from their distinct aesthetic conceptions of the function and effect of musical sounds. Lacépède asserts that they are expressive representational signs of sentiments whereas Chabanon emphasizes that they are intrinsically non-referential. Lacépède offers valuable insights into thought and practices in operatic dramaturgy during the late eighteenth century in France. Chabanon's more philosophical approach produces a constructive appreciation of independent processes in instrumental music. Both authors significantly advanced their era's recognition of music as an art worthy of public support whose practitioners could be respected as leaders in educating audiences to cultivate their listening skills as well as their taste.
Michel-Paul-Guy de Chabanon et ses contemporains
Baruch College and Graduate Center, the City University of New York
Lacépède, critical Contemporary of Chabanon, Divergent Perspectives in the Music Treatises of 1785