Rancière's equal music

Jairo Moreno, Gavin Steingo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This article addresses the position of music (and art more generally) in the thought of Jacques Rancière. For Rancière, all societies and communities are partitioned first and foremost on the level of sense perception. Both music and politics are therefore aesthetic in the Kantian sense, as the organization of forms that determine what is able to appear to the senses. As such, music has no special powers-it is neither transcendental nor ineffable-and can only offer emancipatory projects what it shares with them, that is, certain re-distributions or parceling outs of the sensible (i.e. the visible and invisible, the audible and inaudible). Political music, then, is radically equal to any other action. Furthermore, any challenge to a given society's sensible distribution is based on the axiom of equality. Music, finally, becomes equal to politics when it renounces its alleged singularity and asserts the fundamental equality of human intelligence and intelligibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-505
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary Music Review
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Music


  • Aesthetics
  • Dissensus
  • Equality
  • Intelligibility
  • Jacques Rancière
  • Politics


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