Listening to Music Together

British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (4):379-389 (2012)
Abstract
I discuss the social dimension of musical experience. I focus on the question of whether there is joint musical listening. One reason for this focus is that Adorno and those in his tradition give us little in the way of an understanding of what the social dimension of musical experience might be. We need a proper clear conception of the issue, which the issue of joint experience yields. I defend a radically individualistic view, while conceding that such a view, inspired by Hanslick, may have political ramifications. I have two arguments. The first is a principled argument against joint musical listening from the impossibility of perceiving the aesthetic properties of music. I connect this with the privacy of our grounds for aesthetic judgements about music. The second argument accepts that joint listening could in principle span different sense modalities, but draws attention to the fact that the experiences on which aesthetic judgements are based cannot be willed in a way they would have to be if there was joint listening. Lastly, I consider two phenomena, of making music together and dancing together, which seem to involve joint listening, but in fact do not. I end by drawing an individualist conclusion about the nature of musical experience
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