To what extent is sociology able to offer a significant contribution to the study of musical works? I first review Adorno's attempt to decipher the very social substance of music. His systematic program advocates a deterministic, normative and antiempirical approach, which dead-ends. By contrast, his monographs (e.g. his essay on Mahler) stand on a quite different level, and some of their ... [Show full abstract] insights may suggest how to overcome the limits of his critical sociology. The sociological approach to music gains substance when works are seen as the output of a creative and interpretive process subject to high variability and then as intermediate goods that owe their long-lasting value to endless intervention and transformation.