Ontmusic3. What is a song?
Nelson Goodman has proposed that the score is the absolute determinant of musical identity. Goodman writes, “If we allow the least deviation [from the score], all assurance of work-preservation and score-preservation is lost; for by a series of one-note errors of omission, addition, and modification, we can go all the way from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to Three Blind Mice. Thus while a score may leave unspecified many features of a performance, and allow for considerable variation in others within prescribed limits, full compliance with the specifications given is categorically required.” Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols, 2nd ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1976), 186-87.