Musical understanding, musical works, and emotional expression: Implications for education

Educational Philosophy and Theory 37 (1):93–103 (2005)
What do musicians, critics, and listeners mean when they use emotion‐words to describe a piece of instrumental music? How can ‘pure’ musical sounds ‘express’ emotions such as joyfulness, sadness, anguish, optimism, and anger? Sounds are not living organisms; sounds cannot feel emotions. Yet many people around the world believe they hear emotions in sounds and/or feel the emotions expressed by musical patterns. Is there a reasonable explanation for this dilemma? These issues gain additional importance when we ask them in the context of music education. For example, can we, or should we, teach music students to listen‐for musical expressions of emotion? If so, how? My contention is that listeners can and do hear emotions in musical patterns; musical sounds can be expressive of emotions. Accordingly, I offer ideas for teaching students how to hear and create musical expressions of emotions
Keywords emotion  musicianship  expression  music  musical works  praxial  performance
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DOI 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2005.00100.x
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