A musical argument is a means of creating tension through the relation of expressive content and musical form:

Traditional dialectal[a] music is representational: the musical form relates to an expressive content and is a means of creating a growing tension; this is what is usually called the musical argument.

— Wim Mertens (1999)[1]

Experimental musical forms may use process or indeterminacy rather than argument.[2]

The musical argument may be characterized as the primary flow and current idea being presented in a piece:

The very definition of musical argument is something that keeps going, and you uncover new details and new combinations. A musical argument is not the same as a verbal argument. A verbal argument implies that there's [sic] two sides; a musical argument makes the two sides one thing, like counterpoint. A fugue is like that; a double fugue, at least, takes two different ideas and shows you how they relate, and it shows you how they're the same thing.

— Phil Lesh (1982)[3]

Thus one may hear of a musical argument being interrupted, extended, or repeated.[original research?]

See also


  1. ^ The purpose of the dialectic method of reasoning is resolution of disagreement through rational discussion between opposing viewpoints.


  1. ^ Mertens, Wim (1999). American Minimal Music: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, reprinted edition (London: Kahn & Averill), p.88. ISBN 1871082005. Quoted in LaBelle, Brandon (2006). Background Noise (London and New York: Continuum), p.7. ISBN 9780826418449.
  2. ^ LaBelle (2006), p.7.
  3. ^ Gans, David (2002). Conversations With The Dead, p.166. ISBN 9780306810992.