Friendly Remainders draws on Adorno's concept of the negative dialectic, examining its importance in Adorno's thought and its critical application to musical forms.
Moving beyond a positivist view where musical object and appreciation operate as a synthesis, the negative dialectic method focuses on divergence and dissonance in musical forms and in society. Contradictions and divergent details and concepts become "remainders," friendly because of the fresh perspective they offer on musical forms.
Dineen examines these contradictory remainders in subjects such as the fascist element in Wagner's character, the torpor of Schoenberg's twelve-tone method, the self-contradiction implicit in Beethoven's Late Style, Frank Zappa's attempt to define himself as a "serious" composer, the reactionary stasis in Marilyn Manson's DVD "Guns, God and Government World Tour," and the death motive in John Coltrane. Friendly Remainders takes seriously the project of making Adorno accessible, asking the same questions of classical and popular music - taking the measure of Mahler as much as Manson - for the value of the critical insights they provoke.