In the second half of the twentieth century, Western scholarly musical modernity extended its thinking to the scale of timbre, apparently overturning the hegemony of the pitch parameter. And yet, in more ways than one, this upheaval took place in a roundabout way, without abandoning the correlate of the note and classical lutherie. If the pitch-note - a historical concept associating an acoustic parameter with a symbolic representation - remains, in what logical and perceptive terms is it now attached to the sound phenomenon? What does the choice of such a mediation of timbre through writing say about the relationship between this modernism and its essential ambition of advanced rationalization of the material?
This questioning is the starting point for an epistemological investigation into the links between pitch-note, as the operative foundation of Western musical writing, and the sound rationality of musical modernity and its progress, through the evolving issues of philosophy, science and cultural history. Such an investigation questions the future of Western rationality itself. This book proposes a genealogy of the structuring functions acquired by the pitch-note in the course of a process of logical grasp of the sound field, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The instrumental writing of complex sound is then defined by the perceptual subversion of the classical pitch-note and the emergence of so-called mediating functions. This mutation then touches on an aesthetic and metaphysical problematic: the overcoming of material through a dialectic of non-identity, envisaged from the perspective of Theodor W. Adorno.