Until recently, music scholars have neglected the hiscorical study of cultural
relations between bodily and musical experiences. In critical discourse, classical
music was predominantly characterised as an intellectual, spiritual and
'purifying' enterprise. However, between 1890 and 1940, many Belgian critics
appreciated references to bodily sensuality, ambiguity and 'impurity' in musical
language. This paper offers a historical survey of these two oppositional stances.
Drawing on case-studies from Wagner to jazz, I show how, in the interwar
period, the primary way of inscribing the body in music shifted from
harmony to rhythm.