This chapter introduces the main themes and arguments of the book, claiming that, in the later eighteenth century, European art music began to take seriously the flow of time from past to future. Until then, music was simply “in time”; “earlier” and “later” mattered little to the way it was experienced and understood. From that point on, music added the experience of linear time, of time's arrow, to its essential subject matter. It could no longer be experienced with understanding unless one recognized the temporal ordering of events. The chapter also argues that this change in the shape of musical time was not a development internal to music alone, but rather, with the onset of modernity, part of a larger transformation in the way educated Europeans began to conceive of time.
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