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The Philosopher's TouchSartre, Nietzsche, and Barthes at the Piano$
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François Noudelmann

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153942

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153942.001.0001

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(p.145) Five Resonances
The Philosopher's Touch

François Noudelmann

, Brian J. Reilly
Columbia University Press

By following Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Roland Barthes in their regular practice of the piano, this book has revealed how much playing music carries with it a whole life of feelings, a life that extends into our social and intellectual activities. This initial intuition leads us, through the touch of these three thinkers, to the metonymic power of the piano. Although often reserved for moments of solitary intimacy, piano playing does not leave the rest of a person's days intact. By putting ourselves into their fingerings we can discover the musical body—and not just the musician's body—of these players. Nietzsche, Sartre, and Barthes were good pianists too, and yet their playing belongs to a different tuning altogether, for they experienced something other than the art of music. They stepped aside from musicology in order to express in different ways certain truths about music based on their own unique playing. More importantly, they allow us to understand even better the metonymic spectrum of the piano in its relation to thought, imagination, the psyche, and sensibility.

Keywords:   piano, Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, Roland Barthes, music, piano playing, musical body, musicology, imagination, psyche

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