The Pentacle Queen wrote:
Does theory extract or create meaning?
Both. At least this is true in the natural sciences, where theories and observations interact through a feedback loop:
- Theories are models, usually framed in mathematical or at least logical terms, which theorists create to make sense of the observations we've already made. Theories also predict new observations, and have to be refutable in the sense that observations can prove them wrong.
- Observations destroy some theories but not others, depending on the theories' capability to predict those observations. The surviving theories are held to be tentatively true.
In the natural sciences, then, every valid theory is a creation. But the reverse is not true: Not every creation theorists might conjure up is a valid theory. And in your nomenclature, you might say that the creations that fail to become valid theories fail because they didn't extract the true meaning from the phenomena to which they applied.
Alas, I'm not sure how any of this applies to your field, musical studies. I'm afraid I'm pretty cynical about it. Theories arise as a kind of filing system to organize the musicologist's rolodexes. But they are rarely framed in terms that make them refutable. For example, what conceivable facts might refute that Beethoven was the last classic, and Schubert and Mendelssohn were the first romantics? And because there is so little feedback from new observations, musical theories never advance beyond the stage of glorified filing systems. But that's just my personal and cynical opinion.