As the lyrics to the traditional nineteenth century gospel hymn state, one of the goals of many magical and religious practices is to experience ‘a closer walk with Thee,’ coming into the presence of the holy in both figurative and arguably literal terms. One of the many ways to improve this likelihood of achieving the deep and immersive presence of the holy—described by the scholar of comparative religion Rudolf Otto as the “gentle tide, [the] pervading [of] the mind with a (...) tranquil mood” numinous experience—is through the careful use of various sonic elements. To this point, an exploration of physical worship spaces themselves, a review of the means of creating sounds within worship, and a study of the related uses of sonic technology during worship rituals can help to elucidate just how these sonic elements compare in their utilization between ancient magic and more contemporary magical and religious applications. It is my contention that the overall goal of creating an immersive environment for worship and ritual practice has remained a constant from Ancient Greek and Roman times through to the present, while the technology available to achieve this goal (both in the creation of an immersive physical space and in the use of engaging and relatable musical instruments and instrumental styles) has continually progressed. Put another way, the methods in which we might best utilize various sonic elements to achieve the most numinous experience—the ‘how’— have certainly changed over time, but the underlying ‘why’ and the core goal of using sound to increase this sense of a presence with the holy has remained largely unchanged. (shrink)
Knowing someone personally centrally involves engaging in various patterns of affective response. Inasmuch as humans can know God personally, this basic insight about the relationship between personal knowledge and affective response also applies to God: knowing God involves responding to him, and to the world, in various affectively toned ways. In light of this insight, I explore how one particular practice might contribute to human knowledge of God: namely, engaging with sacred music – in particular, sacred music in the Western, (...) classical tradition. In investigating this topic, I tackle an issue at the interface between the philosophy of religion and aesthetics: sacred music’s capacity to arouse religious emotions. I use as a springboard Peter Kivy’s view that ‘music alone’ can only arouse emotions about itself. This view, I argue, has a counterintuitive consequence: the music in sacred works would play no part in arousing emotions with religious objects. In contrast, I develop an account of how music combines with religious factors to arouse religious emotions. I then draw out two consequences for how music can facilitate understanding between religious and non-religious outlooks. The upshot of all this, I suggest, is that by expanding the listener’s religious-emotional landscape, sacred music can enrich her knowledge of God – and that this is possible whether or not the listener subscribes propositionally to God’s reality or to any other religious doctrines. (shrink)
Why is listening to sad music pleasurable? Eerola et al. convincingly argue that we should adopt an integrative framework — encompassing biological, psycho-social, and cultural levels of explanation — to answer this question. I agree. The authors have done a great service in providing the outline of such an integrative account. But in their otherwise rich discussion of the psycho-social level of engagements with sad music, they say little about the phenomenology of such experiences — including features that may help (...) shed further light on this question. I suggest that emerging enactive perspectives on music and emotion can offer some useful resources. (shrink)
For 4E cognitive science, minds are embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended. Proponents observe that we regularly ‘offload’ our thinking onto body and world: we use gestures and calculators to augment mathematical reasoning, and smartphones and search engines as memory aids. I argue that music is a beyond-the-head resource that affords offloading. Via this offloading, music scaffolds access to new forms of thought, experience, and behaviour. I focus on music’s capacity to scaffold emotional consciousness, including the self-regulative processes constitutive of emotional (...) consciousness. In developing this idea, I consider the ‘material’ and ‘worldmaking’ character music, and I apply these considerations to two case studies: music as a tool for religious worship, and music as a weapon for torture. (shrink)
Music has strong emotional powers. How are we to understand affective responses to music? What does music teach us about emotions? Why are musical emotions important? Despite the rich literature in philosophy and the empirical sciences, particularly psychology and neuroscience, little attention has been paid to integrating these approaches. This extensive review aims to redress this imbalance and establish a mutual dialogue between philosophy and the empirical sciences by presenting the main philosophical puzzles from an affective science perspective. The chief (...) problem is contagion. Sometimes, listeners perceive music as expressing some emotion and this elicits the same emotion in them. Contagion is perplexing because it collides with the leading theory of emotions as experiences of values. This article mostly revolves around the critical presentation of the philosophical solutions to this problem in light of recent developments in emotion theory and affective science. It also highlights practical issues, particularly the role of musical emotions in well-being and health, by tackling the paradox of sad music, i.e., the question of why people enjoy sad music. It thus bridges an important gap between theoretical and real-life issues as well as between philosophical and empirical investigations on affective responses to music. (shrink)
Cross-domain descriptions are descriptions of features pertaining to one domain in terms of vocabulary primarily associated with another domain. Notably, we routinely describe psychological features in terms of the sensory domain and vice versa. Sorrow is said to be ‘bitter’ and fear ‘cold’. Music can be described as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘mournful’, and so on. Such descriptions are rife in both everyday discourse and literary writings. What is it about psychological features that invites descriptions in sensory terms and what is it (...) about the sensory that invites descriptions in terms of the psychological? Drawing on the literature on polysemy, this paper sheds light on cross-domain descriptions pertaining to the sensory and the psychological domains. (shrink)
Psychological and neuroscientific inquiry pointed out the value of attention for auditory perception. Recent studies have identified that the problem is not one of finding a location for a given task, but of identifying how and what one wants to do with a given stimulus. This radicalises the problem of attention in perception. In this paper I try bring experimental research into dialogue with social role of emotions and attention in sonorous and musical field from the point of view of (...) anthropology and ethnomusicology. (shrink)
As to what distinguishes music from other sound, some investigators in both philosophy and cognitive scientists have answered “tonality.” It seems subservient even to rhythm. Tonality is considered to be the central factor around which the piece is oriented; it gives a sense of home, expectation, and completeness. Most important, much of this inquiry builds on naturalistic, evolutionary explanation to account for human nature and behavior. The conclusion of such line of thought is that sounds missing tonality or tonal focus (...) cannot be music. This article challenges such sort of naturalistic criteria distinguishing music from nonmusic. Permitting certain sets of sounds to be considered music does not necessitate denial or approval of naturalistic explanations but does allow nontonal music to serve a part of human and musical evolution. (shrink)
In Nietzsche’s mature work reflections, marked by the elaboration of a semiotic conception of music, pain plays a central role in music. In order to extract its full potential, it is very fruitful to confront it with Theodor W. Adorno’s philosophy of music and his reading of Nietzschean texts. All that will be aimed at the main task of this study: to extract the guidelines of a ‘philosophical semiotics of music’, as a proposal for the present. And as a conclusion, (...) its application to Alban Berg’s work. (shrink)
In this paper I present an account of musical arousal that takes into account key demands of formalist philosophers such as Peter Kivy and Nick Zangwill. Formalists prioritise our understanding and appreciation of the music itself. As a result, they demand that any feelings we have in response to music must be directed at the music alone, without being distracted by non-musical associations. To accommodate these requirements I appeal to a mechanism of contagion which I synthesize with the expectation-based arousal (...) mechanism proposed by Leonard Meyer. This account connects musical expressivity and arousal in a way that formalists have rejected, but I argue that it provides the best explanation of our observations of listener responses while also focusing on the music itself. (shrink)
This chapter revisits the classic questions whether absolute music can express extra-musical meaning and whether such meaning should be thought of as playing an important role in our understanding and appreciation of music. It argues that music’s expressive ability plays a central role in our conception of its phenomenology and value—in our perception of music as expressive and in its capacity to move us, both in the understudied generic sense, and in the sense of arousing specific emotions in us. It (...) examines a type of scepticism about music’s expressive ability made influential by Eduard Hanslick and considers to what extent it can be answered. The chapter concludes that, while the extreme scepticism espoused by Hanslick cannot be sustained, his discussion teaches us deep lessons about the expressive indeterminacy involved in music. The chapter illustrates some of the issues it deals with through an analysis of the slow movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major and explores the connection between meaning in music and meaning in poetry. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive book-length introduction to the philosophy of Western music that fully integrates consideration of popular music and hybrid musical forms, especially song. Its author, Andrew Kania, begins by asking whether Bob Dylan should even have been eligible for the Nobel Prize in Literature, given that he is a musician. This motivates a discussion of music as an artistic medium, and what philosophy has to contribute to our thinking about music. Chapters 2-5 investigate the most commonly defended (...) sources of musical value: its emotional power, its form, and specifically musical features (such as pitch, rhythm, and harmony). In chapters 6-9, Kania explores issues arising from different musical practices, particularly work-performance (with a focus on classical music), improvisation (with a focus on jazz), and recording (with a focus on rock and pop). Chapter 10 examines the intersection of music and morality. The book ends with a consideration of what, ultimately, music is. (shrink)
Many people find sacred choral music profound and deeply evocative, even in societies that seem to be turning away from religious belief. In this book, Julian Perlmutter examines how, in light of its wide appeal, sacred music can have religious significance for people regardless of their religious convictions. -/- By differentiating between doctrinal belief and the desire for God, Perlmutter explores a longing for the spiritual that is compatible with both belief and 'interested non-belief'. He describes how sacred music can (...) elicit this kind of longing, thereby helping the listener to grow in religious openness. The work of Thomas Merton is also analyzed in order to show that musically-elicited desire for God can be incorporated into the Christian practice of contemplative prayer, aimed ultimately at a union of love with God. By exploring connections between desire, knowledge and religious practice, this engaging account illustrates how sacred music can have a transformative effect on one's wider spiritual life. -/- Of particular interest to philosophers and theologians, the book makes a novel contribution to several topics including religious epistemology, the philosophy of emotion and aesthetics. (shrink)
The question of meaning in music has been discussed by numerous philosophers of music. On one end of the philosophical spectrum, the meaning in music is understood as “specifically musical” meaning, i.e. the meaning exhausted by the musical ideas. The other end of the spectrum is occupied by the view that the meaning in music is emotional, consisting of the ex-pression or representation of emotions by music, i.e. that the meaning in music is emotional meaning. The paper will demonstrate that (...) the results of psychological research support a more complex view, which ac-knowledges different types of meaning. The main aim of the paper is to examine the contribution of experimental psychological research for the philosophical debates on musical meaning. Certain studies of behavioral and neurological reactions to musical stimuli have revealed interesting relationships between the processing of syntax, semantics, and emotion in mu-sic. After presenting three main philosophical views on musical meaning, the paper discusses the results and implications of three experimental psychological studies, and their relevance for the philosophical views. It is argued in the paper that the experimental results enrich the classical philosophical debate on meaning in music. The original contribution of the paper con-sists in suggesting a way to connect the philosophical debates on musical meaning with the experimental psychological research. The implications of the paper will reveal higher complexity of the issue of musical meaning than is implicitly supposed in the theoretical debates. The second important implication is the suggestion of a way in which philosophical questions concerning music can be approached with the help of experimental psychology in future research. (shrink)
In this article, I first address the question of how musical forms come to represent meaning—that is, the semantics of music—and illustrate an important conceptual distinction articulated by Leonard Meyer in Emotion and Meaning in Music between absolute or intramusical meaning and referential or extramusical meaning through a critical analysis of two recent films. Second, building examples of scholarship around a single piece of music frequently used in film—Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings—I follow the example set by Murray Smith in (...) Film, Art, and the Third Culture and discuss the complementary approaches of the humanities, the behavioral sciences, and the natural sciences to understanding music and its use in film. (shrink)
This paper is composed of two related parts. The first raises questions regarding the characterisation of the phenomenology of music listening required by Davies’s theory of musical expressiveness, appearance emotionalism. I will identify two possible readings of the theory, a thick and a thin one, and claim that the former represents the basic characterisation of what it is to hear expressive music according to appearance emotionalism. The thick characterisation is to be preferred, I will claim, both on the grounds of (...) textual evidence and of overall consistency and explanatory power. The second part of the paper discusses a criticism of appearance emotionalism I advanced in a recently published paper, along with its consequences for aesthetic education. In the remainder of the paper, I address Davies’s twofold reply to my objection. I will contend that both replies fail to address at least some of the problems I raised. The first reply fails because of Davies’s own view of emotions, while the seconds fails if one accepts the thick characterisation of appearance emotionalism I offer in the first half of the paper. (shrink)
The dissertation discusses the relationship between two approaches to researching music: the empirical approach of experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience, and the speculative approach of philosophical aesthetics of music. The aim of the dissertation is to determine the relationship between problems, conceptual frameworks, and domains of inquiry of the two approaches. The dissertation should answer whether the philosophical and the empirical approach deal with the same, or at least relatable aspects of music. In particular, it should answer whether the results (...) of the empirical research contribute to the debates of philosophical aesthetics of music. Each of the three chapters of the dissertation deals with one particular problem in philosophy of music: meaning in music, value of music, and the relationship between music and the emotions. For each particular philosophical problem discussed in these chapters, it is demonstrated that the experimental results provide interesting insights for philosophy of music. It is concluded in the dissertation that philosophers can benefit from examining experimental studies, not only regarding the particular aesthetic theories, but also in regard to the methodological consideration, since the dissertation shows that this kind of interdisciplinary approach uncovers methods useful to philosophers, not commonly available to the armchair philosophical approach. (shrink)
In this paper I develop an aesthetic of horror film music based on the film sound theorist Kevin Donnelly's "direct access thesis". This states that horror film scores have the power to provide "direct accesses" to the bodies of an audience; they "produce bodily sensations, excite (mainly negative) emotions and insert in the audience "frames of mind and attitudes...much like a direct injection". I first argue that two dominant theories in the field, namely, the culturalist theory of film music and (...) Peter Kivy's cognitivist theory of music and emotion are inadequate. Then I will show that by aligning the direct access thesis with Jenefer Robinson's theory of music and emotion, Mark Johnson and Steve Larson's contention that musical meaning is primarily embodied, we will be able to reveal a deeper meaning of horror film scores than musical convention. I illustrate my proposal with the shark motif in Jaws and Dies Irae in The Shining. (shrink)
Musical systems develop associations over time between aspects of musical form and concepts from outside of the music. Experienced listeners internalize these connotations, such that the formal elements bring to mind their extra-musical meanings. An example of musical form-meaning mapping is the association that Western listeners have between the major and minor modes and happiness and sadness, respectively. We revisit the emotional semantics of musical mode in a study of 44 American participants (musicians and non-musicians) who each evaluated the relatedness (...) of 96 melody-word pairs. Among the tonal melodies, we manipulated mode (major and minor) and timbre (clarinet and flute) while systematically controlling for other musical factors including pitch register and melodic contour. Similarly, among the English words, we manipulated word affect (happy and sad) while systematically controlling for other lexical factors including frequency and word length. Results demonstrated that participants provided a higher proportion of related responses for major melodies paired with happy words and minor melodies paired with sad words than for the reverse pairings. This interaction between mode and word affect was highly significant for both musicians and non-musicians, albeit with a larger effect for the former group. Further interactions with timbre suggested that while both clarinet and flute conveyed happiness when in the major mode, the clarinet was somewhat more successful than the flute at conveying sadness in the minor mode. Debriefing questionnaires suggested that the majority of the participants, including all of the non-musicians, had no awareness of the major-minor manipulation, and instead directed their attention to register and contour. We argue that the affective character of the major and minor modes is but one example of form-meaning mapping in music, and suggest further exploration of the roles of timbre, register, and contour in conveying musical emotions. (shrink)
“4E” approaches in cognitive science see mind as embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended. They observe that we routinely “offload” part of our thinking onto body and world. Recently, 4E theorists have turned to music cognition: from work on music perception and musical emotions, to improvisation and music education. I continue this trend. I argue that music — like other tools and technologies — is a beyond-the-head resource that affords offloading. And via this offloading, music can (at least potentially) scaffold various (...) forms of thought, experience, and behavior. To develop this idea, I consider the “material” and “worldmaking” character of music, and I apply these considerations to two cases studies: music as a tool for religious worship, and music as a weapon for torture. (shrink)
In this chapter I analyse group flow: a state in which performers report intense interpersonal absorption with the music and each other. I compare group flow to individual flow, and argue that the same essential structure can be discerned. I argue that group flow does not justify an anti-representationalist enactivist interpretation. However, I claim that the cognitive task in which the music is produced is irreducibly collective.
Philosophers of music and psychologists have examined the various ways in which music is capable of arousing emotions in a listener. Among philosophers, opinions diverge as to the different types of music-induced emotions and as to their relevance to music listening. A somewhat neglected question concerns the possibility of developing a general criterion for the artistic relevance of music-induced emotions. In this paper, I will try to formulate such a criterion. In whatever way music may induce emotions and regardless of (...) the sorts of emotion music is taken to arouse, a given emotion will qualify as artistically relevant if and only if it is caused by appropriate listening, it is dependent on features of the piece of music as a work of art and is capable of further directing our attention to such features. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss Stephen Davies’s defence of literalism about emotional descriptions of music. According to literalism, a piece of music literally possesses the expressive properties we attribute to it when we describe it as ‘sad’, ‘happy’, etc. Davies’s literalist strategy exploits the concept of polysemy: the meaning of emotion words in descriptions of expressive music is related to the meaning of those words when used in their primary psychological sense. The relation between the two meanings is identified by (...) Davies in music’s presentation of emotion-characteristics-in-appearance. I will contend that there is a class of polysemous uses of emotion terms in descriptions of music that is not included in Davies’s characterization of the link between emotions in music and emotions as psychological states. I conclude by indicating the consequences of my claim for the phenomenology of expressive music. (shrink)
On offer here is a tradition-neutral way of understanding the distinction between analytic and continental philosophy of music. The distinction is drawn in terms of methodology, rather than content, by identifying contrasting methodological tendencies of each tradition—initial maneuvers that frame an investigation, which are related to one another insofar as they involve, or do not involve, two kinds of methodological detachment. These maneuvers are extracted through a consideration of contrasting pairs of examples. The pairs consist of an analytic and a (...) continental account of a core issue in the philosophy of music. The issues considered are musical experience, musical ontology, and the relationship between music and the emotions. The philosophers considered are Roger Scruton and Pierre Bourdieu, Jerrold Levinson and Lydia Goehr, Peter Kivy, and Andrew Bowie. (shrink)
The Who was one of the most influential of the 1960s British Invasion bands—not just because of their loud and occasionally destructive stage presence—but also because of its smart songs and albums such as “My Generation,” Who’s Next, Tommy, and Quadrophenia, in which they explored themes such as frustration, angst, irony, and a youthful inclination to lash out. This collection explores the remarkable depth and breadth of the Who’s music through a philosophical lens.
I explore and outline Wittgenstein's original response to the Romantic discourse concerning musical depth, from his middle-period on. Schopenhauer and Spengler served as immediate sources for Wittgenstein's reliance on Romantic metaphors of depth concerning music. The onset for his philosophic intervention in the discourse was his critique of Schenker's view of music and his general shift toward the 'anthropological view', which occurred at the same time. In his post-PI period Wittgenstein was able to reimagine musical depth in terms of vertically (...) interrelated language-games which facilitate Menschenkenntnis. (shrink)
Fado, the urban folk of Lisbon and Coimbra, is an art of nuances. These nuances music takes from poetry; as ‘sung poetry’ (‘poema cantado’ in Portuguese) fados are not to be equated with ‘songs’ that turn the word into a vehicle – a dominant procedure in, e.g., rock music. Again, ‘voice’ in fado does not so much manifest individual expression; rather it is, as it were, ‘on loan’ from tradition. Keeping some distance from dance, too, fado at the beginning of (...) the 21st century could and can resist being swallowed up into the mainstream of global popular music. (shrink)
Building on Elliot and SilvermanÕs (2015) embodied and enactive approach to musicing, I argue for an extended approach: namely, the idea that music can function as an environmental scaffolding supporting the development of various experiences and embodied practices that would otherwise remain inaccessible. I focus especially on the materiality of music. I argue that one of the central ways we use music, as a material resource, is to manipulate social spaceÑand in so doing, manipulate our emotions. Acts of musicing, thought (...) of as processes of environmental space manipulation, are thus examples of what I term Òemotional niche construction.Ó I explore three dimensions of this process and appeal to different strands of empirical work to support this picture. (shrink)
In this paper I offer critical attention to the notion of atmosphere in relation to music. By exploring the concept through the case study of the Closed Brethren worship services, I argue that atmosphere may provide analytical tools to explore the ineffable in ecclesial practices. Music, just as atmosphere, commonly occupies a realm of ineffability and undermines notions such as inside and outside, subject and object. For this reason I present music as a means of knowing the atmosphere. The first (...) part of this paper points to the limits of an understanding of atmosphere as a constellation of things, as proposed by Gernot Böhme. In contrast to this, Hermann Schmitz conceptualises atmosphere as half-thing which suggests movement. Drawing on this, I propose to methodologically approach atmospheres as movements. Consequently, in the second part of this paper I closely analyse two motions as they cohere in Closed Brethren worship services: first, becoming (Deleuze and Guattari), a movement on the level of the individual worshiper; secondly, territorialisation (Deleuze and Guattari), a movement of the atmosphere towards its solidification. Here music as atmosphere is not a system of moral signification but a generative power affording intimate processes of divine encounter, whilst producing affective denominational difference. (shrink)
The paper deals with the relationship between the art of music and human emotions, in particular, with the feature of musical works designated in aesthetic literature as „expressiveness“. After a short presentation of several main attempts at explaining the expressiveness of music in analytical aesthetics, the author offers a clarification of the conceptual confusion within presented theories, and points out their main difficulties and deficiencies.
While it is widely accepted that music evokes moods, there is disagreement over whether music-induced moods are relevant to the aesthetic appreciation of music as such. The arguments against the aesthetic relevance of music-induced moods are: moods cannot be intentionally directed at the music and music-induced moods are highly subjective experiences and are therefore a kind of mind-wandering. This paper presents a novel account of musical moods that avoids these objections. It is correct to say that a listener’s entire mood (...) is not relevant to the aesthetic appreciation of music. However, the experience of mood consists of having different feelings. Music induces feelings that are intentionally directed at the music and clusters of these feelings can be recognized as typical of a specific mood. Therefore, mood-feelings are relevant to the aesthetic appreciation of music. (shrink)
In this essay, Timothy Justus reviews the book Brain and Music (2012) by Stefan Koelsch, first providing a sketch of the book’s contents, including examples of Koelsch’s empirical work from four core areas (1) musical syntax, (2) musical semantics, (3) music and action, and (4) music and emotion. Justus then proceeds to discuss the continuous nature of cognitive domains and the continuous nature of mental activity.
This essay reviews Iain Morley’s The Prehistory of Music, an up-to-date and authoritative overview of recent research on evolution and cognition of musicality from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. Given the diversity of the project explored, integration of evidence from multiple fields is particularly pressing, required for any novel evolutionary account to be persuasive, and for the project’s continued progress. Moreover, Morley convincingly demonstrates that there is much more to understanding musicality than is supposed by some theorists. I outline Morley’s review of (...) the archaeological and ethnographic literature, and then go on to critique his assessment of philosophical and evolutionary theories, offering some alternative perspectives that might better benefit his project. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to sketch a theory of musical experience which takes the empirical research seriously without abandoning or neglecting music’s transcendental features. The tension between the recent empirical approach, as represented particularly by Huron’s ITPRA theory, and the transcendental fact that music as an instance of art is something one can understand and, moreover, can understand oneself through, should be overcome by elaborating on the concept of emotion and the role it can play in musical understanding. (...) This will be done against the narrower background of the pragmatists’ theories of meaning, as represented by the semantic work of Meyer and Brandom, and their broader link to the philosophy of Hegel and the great systems of German idealism. (shrink)
I respond to Kersten’s criticism in his article “Music and Cognitive Extension” of my approach to the musically extended emotional mind in Krueger (2014). I specify how we manipulate—and in so doing, integrate with—music when, as active listeners, we become part of a musically extended cognitive system. I also indicate how Kersten’s account might be enriched by paying closer attention to the way that music functions as an environmental artifact for emotion regulation.
The paper deals with the formalistic view on music presented in Eduard Hanslick’s treatise On the Musically Beautiful, which is taken to be the foundingwork of the aesthtetics of music. In the paper I propose an interpretation of Hanslick’s treatise which differs on many points from the interpretations displayed in the works of several most influential contemporary aestheticians of music. My main thesis is that Hanslick’s treatise is misunderstood and incorrectly presented by these authors. I try to demonstrate this thesis (...) by referring to Hanslick’s original formulations in the German edition and by showing that my interpretation renders Hanslick’s view far more coherent and his arguments successful in showing his main conclusions. Accepting this alternative interpretation should have further implications on many contemporary theories in the aesthetics of music that reckon on the failure of Hanslick’s arguments as presented by usual interpretations. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIneffability of musical meaning is a frequent theme in music philosophy. However, talk about musical meaning persists and seems to be not only inherently enjoyable and socially acceptable, but also functionally useful. Relying on a phenomenological account of musical meaning combined with a naturalist explanatory attitude, we argue for a novel explanation of how ineffability is a feature of musical meaning and experience and we show why it cannot be remedied by perfecting language or musico-philosophical study.Musical meaning is seen as (...) an experiential phenomenon that consists of layers, some recent, others archaic. As such, musical meaning is strongly characterized by asubjectivity. It is in-between, in a state where the division of subject and object is not yet valid or valid anymore. A naturalistic interplay of experiential layers in music brings about a non-reified dynamics driving for expressions, interpretations, engenderings of subjects and objects or even for political action. Generally speaking, the in-betweenness of musical meaning can never be universally reified or symbolic nor can it ever be “subjective,” “mine” or present “at the origin.”In this view, ineffability has two primary reasons. First, the criteria offered for defining musical meaning are often too strict, resulting in untenable pretensions of universality. Second, the processual and relational nature of the in-between keeps meaning in flux; any snapshot creates a new situation and new meanings. (shrink)
James O. Young seeks to explain why we value music so highly. He draws on the latest psychological research to argue that music is expressive of emotion by resembling human expressive behaviour. The representation of emotion in music gives it the capacity to provide psychological insight--and it is this which explains a good deal of its value.
I examine the role that the musical instrument plays in shaping a performer's expressive activity and emotional state. I argue that the historical development of the musical instrument has fluctuated between two key values: that of sharing with other musicians, and that of creatively exploring new possibilities. I introduce 'the mood organ'- a sensor-based computer instrument that automatically turns signals of the wearer's emotional state into expressive music.
How can an abstract sequence of sounds so intensely express emotional states? In the past ten years, research into the topic of music and emotion has flourished. This book explores the relationship between music and emotion, bringing together contributions from psychologists, neuroscientists, musicologists, musicians, and philosophers .
I defend a model of the musically extended mind. I consider how acts of “musicking” grant access to novel emotional experiences otherwise inaccessible. First, I discuss the idea of “musical affordances” and specify both what musical affordances are and how they invite different forms of entrainment. Next, I argue that musical affordances – via soliciting different forms of entrainment – enhance the functionality of various endogenous, emotiongranting regulative processes, drawing novel experiences out of us with an expanded complexity and phenomenal (...) character. I argue that music therefore ought to be thought of as part of the vehicle needed to realize these emotional experiences. I appeal to different sources of empirical work to develop this idea. (shrink)
A survey of some of the major issues surrounding our emotional responses to artworks. Topics discussed include the paradox of fiction, the paradox of tragedy, and the nature of emotion in response to music.
In contrast to film, theater, and literature, audiences typically sing along with popular songs. This can encourage a first-person mode of engagement with the narrative content. Unlike mere spectators, listeners sometimes imagine acting out the content when it is recited in the first-person. This is a common mode of engaging with popular music. And it can be uniquely morally problematic. It is problematic when it involves the enjoyment of imaginatively doing evil. I defend a Moorean view on the issue: It (...) is wrong to enjoy evil whether real or merely fiction. I develop my position through an examination of the controversially song "Mind of a Lunatic" (1990) by the Houston based rap group Geto Boys. (shrink)
Aesthetic non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements express genuinely aesthetic beliefs and instead hold that they work primarily to express something non-cognitive, such as attitudes of approval or disapproval, or desire. Non-cognitivists deny that aesthetic statements express aesthetic beliefs because they deny that there are aesthetic features in the world for aesthetic beliefs to represent. Their assumption, shared by scientists and theorists of mind alike, was that language-users possess cognitive mechanisms with which to objectively grasp abstract rules fixed independently of human (...) responses, and that cognizers are thereby capable of grasping rules for the correct application of aesthetic concepts without relying on evaluation or enculturation. However, in this article I use Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations to argue that psychological theories grounded upon this so-called objective model of rule-following fail to adequately account for concept acquisition and mastery. I argue that this is because linguistic enculturation, and the perceptual learning that’s often involved, influences and enables the mastery of aesthetic concepts. I argue that part of what’s involved in speaking aesthetically is to belong to a cultural practice of making sense of things aesthetically, and that it’s within a socio-linguistic community, and that community’s practices, that such aesthetic sense can be made intelligible. (shrink)
In his writings, Richard Wagner imagines art as something natural. This paradox was only befitting for Wagner’s contradictory historical stance: that of an eminently modern artist loathing the modern world. For him, nature served as a yardstick apt to find the modern world deficient on all counts. But how can something ahistorical, nature, be used to judge a historical phenomenon, modernity? To arrive at the verdict Wagner was keen on, he had to fill his concept of nature with historical content (...) attributed to myth. (shrink)
Bill Seeley suggests that what follows from research into crossmodal perception for expression and emotion in the arts is that there is an emotional contour (i.e., a contour constitutive of the content of an emotion and potentially realizable across a range of media). As a response of sorts, I speculate as to what this might hold for philosophical and empirical enquiry into expression and emotion across the arts as well as into the nature of the emotions themselves.