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)
The metaphor proves reality, and observation, all of it (the human mind) (and, therefore, a universal mind), is unified, made possible, and controlled, by the conservation of a circle. Metaphorically 'speaking'…pi in mathematics is the technical term for the word 'mind' (any context): the stairway to heaven (and-or hell)… (See, Also: Magical Thinking).
Wittgenstein’s experiments on rhythm, conducted in Charles Myers’s laboratory in Cambridge during the years 1912–13, are his earliest recorded engagement in thinking about music, not just appreciating it, and philosophizing by means of musical thinking. In this essay, I set these experiments within their appropriate intellectual, scientific, and philosophical context in order to show that, its minor scientific importance notwithstanding, this onetime excursion into empirical research provided an early onset for Wittgenstein’s career-long exploration of the philosophically pervasive implications of aspects. (...) Dramatically moving beyond the conceptual limitations, which were inscribed by Charles Myers’s scientific program, Wittgenstein got a glimpse of a philosophical angle, which was bound to become very important to him not only in aesthetics, but also for his overarching philosophical development. He became interested in what we actually do when we re-phrase, compare, come up with good similes in order to illuminate something definite within the space of possibility, so a new aspect may come to life. (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)
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)
Beyond the major-minor tonality that characterizes classical and contemporary Western musical genres, Turkish classical and folk music offer experimental psychologists a rich modal system in which cognition, development, and enculturation can be studied. Here, we present a cross-cultural experiment concerning implicit knowledge of musical scales. Five groups of participants—American musicians and nonmusicians, Turkish musicians and nonmusicians, and Turkish classical and folk music listeners—were asked to listen to brief melodies composed using the member tones of either the major scale or the (...) rast makam, a microtonal mode found within Turkish classical and folk genres with no equivalent in Western music. Following each melody, participants were asked to identify whether a probe tone had been presented in the melody, providing confidence ratings on a six-point scale. In general, participants’ short-term memory was influenced by implicit knowledge of musical scales, with the major scale eclipsing the rast makam even in listeners experienced with Turkish genres. Prior work and future directions in cross-cultural music cognition research are discussed. (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)
Wittgenstein’s later remarks on music, those written after his return to Cambridge in 1929 in increasing intensity, frequency, and elaboration, occupy a unique place in the annals of the philosophy of music, which is rarely acknowledged or discussed in the scholarly literature. These remarks reflect and emulate the spirit and subject matter of Romantic thinking about music, but also respond to it critically, while at the same time they interweave into Wittgenstein’s forward thinking about the philosophic entanglements of language and (...) the mind, and also his pervasive pessimism as a philosopher of culture. In this essay I explore and explicate some of the major tenets of this unique position. I argue that Wittgenstein appropriates the Romantic focus on the specificity of musical expression by means of the idea that gesture consists in complex vertical interrelations between language games. Understanding what a musical passage is about logically presupposes a myriad of correlate moves in the entire range of our language-games. Wittgenstein explicates the notion of musical aboutness in terms of intransitive understanding, which expresses an internal relation conjoining musical gesture and our culture, our entire life in practice, whereupon the related concepts cannot be identified independently of the relation which holds them together. Wittgenstein responds to the Romantic focus on the unique knowledge of human life which is afforded by musical experience with his idiosyncratic later notion of Menschenkenntnis. I conclude that, in the context of Wittgenstein’s late work, ineffability pertaining to musical meaning is not a shortcoming, but rather constitutional of the type of games, which admit what Wittgenstein calls ‘imponderable evidence’, or indefiniteness. (shrink)
Musicians of all sorts talk of getting “into a groove,” whether using those words or others; musical listeners also talk about the groove of a passage of music, a performance, or a recording. In his four-chapter essay, Groove, Tiger Roholt offers answers to questions that seem obvious candidates for philosophical inquiry yet that few philosophers have even touched on: what is a groove, exactly, and what is it to perceive or understand—to get— a groove? His answers are intriguing, not just (...) because they are thoughtfully argued positions on an important yet neglected topic, but because, if correct, they challenge some central orthodoxies of philosophy of music, at least in the analytic tradition.Roholt’s main... (shrink)
Western music is characterized primarily by simple meters, but a number of other musical cultures, including Turkish, have both simple and complex meters. In Experiment 1, Turkish and American adults with and without musical training were asked to detect metrical changes in Turkish music with simple and complex meter. Musicians performed significantly better than nonmusicians, and performance was significantly better on simple meter than on complex meter, but Turkish listeners performed no differently than American listeners. In Experiment 2, members of (...) Turkish classical and folk music clubs who were tested on the same materials exhibited comparable sensitivity to simple and complex meters, unlike the American and Turkish listeners in Experiment 1. Together, the findings reveal important effects of musical training and culture on meter perception: trained musicians are generally more sensitive than nonmusicians, regardless of metrical complexity, but sensitivity to complex meter requires sufficient exposure to musical genres featuring such meters. (shrink)
In this paper I shall attempt to give an enactive account of the dynamic qualities of music. Starting from Krueger’s account of musical experience, I will highlight how music’s qualities of movement are constituted in the horizon of an embodied consciousness – that is, an embodied subject who can virtually or actually bodily entrain with music and then follow the musical profile. I will argue that the common rythmòs-structure of both music and movement makes such an enactive constitution possible. In (...) this sense, the perception of music’s rythmòs – that is, the perception of its teleological tendency – will turn out to be the condition of possibility for the enaction of music dynamic qualities. But if so, music’s quality of being teleologically-structured will remain unexplained by the discussed enactive account and will need another description of how it is constituted in the horizon of consciousness. (shrink)
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)
Accounts of the ontology of musical works seek to uncover what metaphysically speaking a musical work is and how we should identify instances of musical works. In this article, I examine the curious case of the mash-up and seek to address two questions: are mash-ups musical works in their own right and what is the relationship between the mash-up and its source materials? As mash-ups are part of the broader tradition of rock, I situate this discussion within an ontology of (...) rock as defended by Theodore Gracyk and Stephen Davies and offer some interpretation as to what their positions might be in regard to mash-ups. Finally, I argue that the account of mash-ups that best makes sense of our evaluative practices would hold that they are emergent musical works that are distinct in their own right and yet also happen to be cases of musical works that instantiate parts of other musical works. (shrink)
In this study we offer a new way of applying Kendall Walton’s theory of make-believe to musical experiences in terms of psychologically inhibited games of make-believe, which Walton attributes chiefly to ornamental representations. Reading Walton’s theory somewhat against the grain, and supplementing our discussion with a set of instructive examples, we argue that there is clear theoretical gain in explaining certain important aspects of composition and performance in terms of psychologically inhibited games of make-believe consisting of two interlaced game-worlds. Such (...) complex games can accommodate a continuous rich spectrum of congruent modes of listening, which broaches both the formalist-type and the narrativist-type. We conclude that this sort of oblique reading of Walton’s original theory actually complements and completes Walton’s recent theoretic angle concerning thoughtwriting in music by way of affording it with a suitable conception for a mechanism of appropriation for music. (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.
In this paper I begin to fashion a theory of musical form that I call historical formalism. Historical formalism posits that our perception of the formal properties of a musical work is informed by considerations not only of artistic categories but also of the historical, sociopolitical, and cultural circumstances within which that work was composed.
Extended cognition holds that cognitive processes sometimes leak into the world (Dawson, 2013). A recent trend among proponents of extended cognition has been to put pressure on phenomena thought to be safe havens for internalists (Sneddon, 2011; Wilson, 2010; Wilson & Lenart, 2014). This paper attempts to continue this trend by arguing that music perception is an extended phenomenon. It is claimed that because music perception involves the detection of musical invariants within an “acoustic array”, the interaction between the auditory (...) system and the musical invariants can be characterized as an extended computational cognitive system. In articulating this view, the work of J. J. Gibson (1966, 1986) and Robert Wilson (1994, 1995, 2004) is drawn on. The view is defended from several objections and its implications outlined. The paper concludes with a comparison to Krueger’s (2014) view of the “musically extended emotional mind”. (shrink)
This paper offers a Kantian reading of Wittgenstein’s later conception of rules. Building on the continuity of Wittgenstein’s comparison between a sentence and a musical theme, the paper argues that central elements of the Kantianism one may find in Wittgenstein’s early philosophy carry over to his mature conception of grammar. Moreover, this Kantian reading offers a novel perspective on the puzzle about the normativity of Wittgenstein’s later notion of rules. It is argued that the normativity of an aesthetic judgement, understood (...) in a specifically Kantian sense, offers a good model for construing the necessity of rule-following in his later philosophy. In analogy with the necessity of Kantian aesthetic judgements, the necessity of rule-following, while less than objective from a transcendental point of view, may be treated as objective for the members of the linguistic community under the assumption of a shared form of life. (shrink)
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.
Peter Kivy and Stephen Davies developed an influential and convincing account of what features of music cause listeners to hear it as expressive of emotion. Their view (the resemblance theory) holds that music is expressive of some emotion when it resembles human expressive behaviour. Some features of music, they believe, are expressive of emotion because of conventional associations. In recent years, Kivy has rejected the resemblance theory without adopting an alternative. This essay argues that Kivy has been unwise to abandon (...) the resemblance theory. New and compelling psychological evidence supports the theory. The essay also argues that new psychological evidence indicates that convention makes a smaller contribution to musical expressiveness than Kivy and Davies believe. (shrink)
Hace 60 años el funcionamiento de la voz en tanto instrumento regido por las leyes acústicas e inscripto en el cuerpo humano, y por lo tanto, gobernado por los mecanismos fisiológicos, era un misterio. Hoy en día, gracias a los avances de la ciencia, es posible (y resulta inevitable) presentar la voz desde una perspectiva sólidamente fundamentada. La práctica coral es práctica vocal, y por lo tanto, para el director coral resulta fundamental estar familiarizado con los nuevos conocimientos disponibles en (...) el área de la Técnica Vocal y la Pedagogía del Canto. Existen directores corales y profesionales de la voz que no conocen en detalle cómo está compuesto el instrumento vocal, cuáles son sus características más importantes, cuáles son los procesos nerviosos, sensoriales y motrices implicados en el proceso fonatorio, y que no son capaces de observar y percibir las dificultades y sensaciones que sus coreutas poseen. Esta situación se presenta sin dudas como un obstáculo para el desarrollo profesional de la actividad que no encuentra, en la mayoría de los casos, una solución fundamentada y efectiva. El desafío que enfrentan los directores corales en el siglo XXI se encuentra vinculado a la posibilidad de aprehender e instrumentalizar el conocimiento disponible en pos del perfeccionamiento constante y la mejora planificada del sonido vocal. Este artículo propone un recorrido por los conceptos más importantes de la Pedagogía Vocal Contemporánea (tales como los de diagnóstico, prescripción y entrenamiento vocal) y delinea los entrecruzamientos de interés para los directores corales de esta nueva era científica. (shrink)
This paper is an exploration of how we do things with music—that is, the way that we use music as an esthetic technology to enact micro-practices of emotion regulation, communicative expression, identity construction, and interpersonal coordination that drive core aspects of our emotional and social existence. The main thesis is: from birth, music is directly perceived as an affordance-laden structure. Music, I argue, affords a sonic world, an exploratory space or nested acoustic environment that further affords possibilities for, among other (...) things, (1) emotion regulation and (2) social coordination. When we do things with music, we are engaged in the work of creating and cultivating the self, as well as creating and cultivating a shared world that we inhabit with others. I develop this thesis by first introducing the notion of a musical affordance . Next, I look at how emotional affordances in music are exploited to construct and regulate emotions. I summon empirical research on neonate music therapy to argue that this is something we emerge from the womb knowing how to do. I then look at social affordances in music, arguing that joint attention to social affordances in music alters how music is both perceived and appropriated by joint attenders within social listening contexts. In support, I describe the experience of listening to and engaging with music in a live concert setting. Thinking of music as an affordance-laden structure thus reaffirms the crucial role that music plays in constructing and regulating emotional and social experiences in everyday life. (shrink)
This article defends a persona theory of musical expressivity. After briefly summarising the major arguments for this view, it applies persona theory to the issue of whether music can express complex emotions. The expression of jealousy is then discussed by analysis of two examples from Piazzolla and Janacek.
This dissertation defends the place of representation in music. Music’s status as a representational art has been hotly debated since the War of the Romantics, which pitted the Weimar progressives (Liszt, Wagner, &co.) against the Leipzig conservatives (the Schumanns, Brahms, &co.) in an intellectual struggle for what each side took to be the very future of music as an art. I side with the progressives, and argue that music can be and often is a representational medium. Correspondence (or resemblance) theories (...) of representation, such as the one I offer, have been much maligned in philosophy since the 1960s. Most theories assimilate representation under “meaning,” which has usually been thought to belong primarily to language. As a result, representational content has been taken to be purely conventional in the way that sentential meaning is. People want to know what music “means,” and these theories interpret this as “what does it refer to?” or “what propositions does it express?” I argue that propositional communication is only one (small) part of the issue. Once we overcome the bias of conceiving of musical works as essentially linguistic items, speech acts (performed) or sentence tokens (written), we can begin to take music on its own terms to discover how it represents—one way in which it “means.” The first step is to “naturalize” music’s representational content. Influenced by recent discussions in the philosophies of mind and science, I argue in Chapter 1 that composers represent extra-musical objects, events, and states of affairs through their works by exploiting antecedent relations (such as similarities in pitch, timbre, and structure) in order to secure reference to them. In Chapter 2, I survey and respond to the main challenges that those skeptical of music’s representational possibilities would raise against my theory of musical representation. In Chapter 3, I explore a number of ways through which music has been claimed to represent in order to show how my theory accounts for these diverse phenomena better than its conventionalist rivals, both in terms of the metaphysics and the epistemology. Chapter 4 extends this discussion by offering an account of how we perceive, understand, appreciate, and interpret sophisticated musical representations. I conclude by teasing out some of my theory’s implications and suggesting areas for further research. (shrink)
Roger Scruton’s account of the nature of music and our experience of it foregrounds the imagination. It is a particularly interesting and promising ‘non-realist’ view in the aesthetics of music, in the sense that it does not postulate aesthetic properties of music that we represent in musical experience. In this paper I critically examine both Scruton’s view and his main argument for it.
Is the tonal ordering of music, and the order of European triadic tonality in particular, the developed manifestation of an essential musical structure—a structure naturally suited to our human capacity to organize sounds musically? Historically and geographically, triadic tonality is a highly local phenomenon, limited to music beginning in the mid-seventeenth century and, until the nineteenth century, almost wholly confined to the Western European musical tradition. Some theorists accordingly regard tonality as a dispensable aesthetic convention—and one which, moreover, has had (...) its day. For many listeners, however, works within this tradition possess a distinctive ability to embody musical movement and expression. This paper examines Roger Scruton's defense of tonality as developed in the European common practice period. I examine his reasons for supposing that tonality is an ineliminable feature of sounds heard and understood as music. Those reasons, I conclude, are inconclusive; on their own they do not show that tonality either will or should persist as an authoritative musical order. Triadic tonality has, at best, an uncertain future. (shrink)
Disagreeing with Jerrold Levinson's claim that being conscious of broad-span musical form is not essential to understanding music, I will argue that our awareness of musical architecture is significant to achieve comprehension. I will show that the experiential model is not incompatible with the analytic model. My main goal is to show that these two models can be reconciled through the identification of a broader notion of understanding. After accomplishing this reconciliation by means of my new conception, I will close (...) the paper by discussing some reasons to accept an enhancing notion of musical understanding that includes levels and degrees of understanding. /// En desacuerdo con la afirmación de Jerrold Levinson: que ser consciente de la forma musical a gran escala no es esencial para comprender la música, sostendré que nuestra conciencia de la estructura musical es significante para alcanzar comprensión. Mostraré que el modelo experiencial no es incompatible con el modelo analítico y que ambos pueden ser reconciliados mediante una noción de comprensión más amplia. Después de llevar a cabo está reconciliación mediante la nueva concepción que propongo, concluiré discutiendo algunas razones para aceptar una noción de comprensión musical enriquecida que incluye niveles y grados de comprensión. (shrink)
This article examines an account of the listener's musical understanding put forward by Stephen Davies. I begin by discussing Davies's "expressibility requirement", according to which a musical listener should be able to express his understanding in sentences that are truth-apt. This is followed by a reconstruction of Davies's argument for the idea that high levels of musical understanding can be attained without possessing music-theoretical concepts. Such a conclusion is seen to follow from his belief that although musical understandings may be (...) evaluatively compared in terms of the concepts of music theory, the listeners themselves can always fulfil the expressibility requirement by employing simple "folk-musicological" terminology. I will attempt to show that this premise is questionable in the light of some central cases of music-structural understanding. I conclude by examining the relationship between Davies's expressibility requirement and the claim that musical understandings are evaluatively commensurable. (shrink)
Roger Scruton’s ontology of sound is found wanting on two counts. Scruton removes from music the importance of the performer’s manipulating of his instrument. This misconceives the phenomenology of hearing and, as a consequence, impoverishes our understanding of music. I argue that the musician’s manipulations can be heard in the music; and, in a discussion of notions developed by Richard Wollheim and Jerrold Levinson, that these manipulations have psychological reality, and that it is this psychological reality which brings to life (...) the sui generis musical persona of musical expressiveness. (shrink)
In recent issues of this journal, Roger Scruton and Malcolm Budd have debated the question whether hearing a melody in a sequence of sounds necessarily involves an ‘unasserted thought’ about spatial movement. According to Scruton, the answer is ‘yes’; according to Budd, the answer is ‘no’. The conclusion of this paper is that, while Budd may have underestimated the viability of Scruton's thesis in one of its possible interpretations, there is no good reason to assume that the thesis is true. (...) Very briefly, the argument for the second part of the conclusion is that we can account for all the data adduced by Scruton in favour of his hypothesis by means of hypotheses that are far less daring. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Rethinking Variations of Musical MeaningfulnessAnneli ArhoAs a curious mind, I am able to focus on new kinds of topics, to research unknown practices; I am able to explore different cultures, interesting customs of making music, or I may trace various ways of musical thinking. It is wonderful to be able to enrich and transform my understanding of the musical world. [End Page 55]As a lived body,1 I have grown (...) up in the Western music tradition.2 This is my culture. This is the tradition I know as a composer, as a player of an instrument, as a teacher, as a researcher. Living in this culture has given me an embodied understanding of music. This understanding provides me with a meaningful background whenever I sense (hear, see, feel with my body's movements, read, fancy, and speak, write, or read about) music. I know this music in myself.As a musician, I have often been puzzled—even annoyed—that the tradition of writing about music favors descriptions and contemplations which I, as a musician, often find misleading and distorted. It has taken me a long time to realize two things: (1) the professional writers within various discourses create their own kinds of musical meaningfulness that are often interesting in themselves, and (2) in order to really share that kind of meaningfulness, I would have had to grow up within the discourse through which that meaningfulness evolved or was constructed.As a researcher, therefore, I have chosen to ground my research in my lived body, in the musicianship constituted through my experiences in making music. I am interested in phenomena of the lived world—as they are lived through and understood when making music.3 I am interested in different practices and divergent ways of regulating and guiding the making of music. I am interested in habitual ways of speaking about music, common ways of manual and mental training and rehearsing, and in different ways of teaching, supervising, and coaching. For me, all these reveal the phenomenon of music in our culture.My Living with Music—A Field of Musical MeaningfulnessAs a composer, I sometimes work with children and young people, and with their instrumental teachers. I have just started a three-year project in a music school, working each year with a new group of players. In 2004, I conducted a pilot project with recorder players. This year it will be the violin players; next year I may work with the piano players. There are many possibilities for the third year: the head of the school will have a hard job choosing a group from among the several enthusiastic candidates.I have enjoyed the open-mindedness of the children and of the volunteer teachers, too. Learning to play with music—learning to handle, vary, and transform, to compose, decompose, and recompose musical fragments, pieces, or sequences—may be as natural as any playing. Intertwining play, variation, and imitation seems to be an essential part of living and learning.But, I have also had to confront entrenched mythical conceptions of what it means to compose music, and curricula based on those conceptions.4 In my mind, composing cannot be regarded as a phenomenon that could simply be included in a curriculum. In practice, composing may refer to a variety of ways [End Page 56] of making music that are not always easy to tell apart from other culturally named phenomena, like playing, singing, improvising, or writing music.5 For me, composing simply refers to certain ways I live with music: several different ways of dealing with music, different kinds of activities, makings and doings, special states of mind, and special ways of using my embodied knowledge of music. Thus, composing refers to an individual and invisible6 background, an embodied perspective, a way of being, which shows me a certain variety of musical phenomena and their qualities, and conceals some others. Composing, like all arts of making and doing, generates its own practical and existential questions, which often are not an issue for those who do not compose. An outsider never really grasps the situation of a practitioner.Culturally bound ways of making music are being redefined... (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Hard Times:Philosophy and the Fundamentalist ImaginationRandall Everett Allsup"Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this (...) is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to the Facts!" So admonishes headmaster Gradgrind in the very beginning of Hard Times, Charles Dickens' prescient tale of education in the industrial world.1 Facts—"addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, settle everything somehow and never wonder"—Facts form the essence of Gradgrind's philosophy.2A close reading of Gradgrind's opening monologue will provide the starting off point for an examination of the role and place of philosophy in the music curriculum. I am particularly intrigued by the question Reimer posed in his opening. He asked us to consider, Who is philosophy of music education for? We will return to this question at the close of this brief reflection.For the moment, however, I would like to continue on to the second paragraph of Hard Times, where Dickens does something very interesting. Following Gradgrind's inglorious monologue, he casts the scene of a small schoolroom, a "plain, bare, monotonous vault."3 Headmaster Gradgrind stands in front; he is described with a "square wall of a forehead," his mouth is "wide, thin, and hard set," his voice "inflexible and dry."4 His hair "bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside."5 A square wall of a forehead, a lumpy head like the crust of a plum pie: these words give us more than "hard Facts"—they are more than mere descriptors. It seems that Dickens, through metaphor, mood, dynamic contrast—through the aesthetic imagination—has imbedded a quiet rebuke to the bold commonsense of Facts.The Gradgrind philosophy finds easy parallel to current thinking in American education. In the fundamentalist imagination, sources of ambiguity must be rooted out—basic skills make adults out of reasoning animals. "Children should be tested on basic reading and math skills every year, between grades three and eight. Measuring is the only way to know whether all our children are learning—and I want to know, because I refuse to leave any child behind."6 The speaker, of course, is George W. Bush whose call to basic skills and episodic testing appeals [End Page 139] to our sense of reason. Like Gradgrind suggests, it is the principle on which we brought up our own children, and this is the principle on which we will bring up today's children. Such a philosophy of education proudly combines folk beliefs about teaching and learning with the hard science of thorough assessment.The President further recommends that our children "must also be educated in the values of our civil society. Some people think it's inappropriate to make moral judgments anymore. Not me. We must be willing to draw a clear line between right and wrong. Those clear lines must be supported by political leaders, public schools, and our public institutions. Educating our children about their moral and civil responsibilities will serve them—and the nation—every bit as well as the academic learning they require."7 In addition to discipline-based standards of knowledge, Facts (in this view) govern the rules of citizenship, provide moral clarity, and as we will see shortly, inform the aesthetic. It is worth noting that such a linear equation—those clear straight lines—currently places skeptics in the category of unpatriotic, miseducative, and morally corrupt.8The fundamentalist philosophy of education is a governing philosophy—it is a philosophy for, not with, its initiates. Judgments are passed, not reached; answers are given, not argued. Teachers in this setting—whether willing accomplices or not—define what needs to be known and... (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Philosophy of Music Education Review 13.1 (2005) 104-108 [Access article in PDF] A Response to Estelle R. Jorgensen, "Four Philosophical Models of the Relationship Between Theory and Practice" Randall Everett Allsup Teachers College, Columbia University Each of the four philosophical models that Estelle Jorgensen has put forth contests, adheres to, or adjusts the hierarchical relationships between dualities, specifically the theory and practice of musical learning. The dichotomy model faces (...) binary associations head on, splitting existence however defined into dualisms like "this/that," "us/them," and "mind/body." Models of polarity, according to Jorgensen, accommodate dualities by buffering edges, emphasizing the interconnectedness of binary relationships. The fusion metaphor is exemplified by Paulo Freire's notion of praxis in which action and reflection are welded together to create hope for a new world, one free of the oppression and conflict that is inherent in binary relationships. The dialectical model is contrapuntal by nature, Edward Said would say.1This relationship highlights our postmodern devotion to différence by embracing the tension created through inclusion so that "this is with that," "we are with them and they are with us," and "mind is with body, just as body is with mind."2Perhaps there is a fifth model, a new kind of relationship where the oppositional or hierarchical nature of binaries co-exists peacefully without tension. [End Page 104] Such an arrangement is, I think, an outgrowth of capitalist democracy—it is, most especially, representative of our global, information age. This type of relationship is problematic philosophically, we will see, lacking as Jorgensen has outlined "logic evidenced in principles," "internal consistency," and "coherence within a unity or whole." Likewise for Bennett Reimer, this new mind-set fails the test of philosophical scrutiny, unconcerned as it is with a "reasoned, structured set of propositions."3 Whether philosophy or mind-set, this new arrangement has as much to do with freedom and free markets as it does with the particular conditions of both modernity and postmodernity.In the novel, White Noise, by Don DeLillo, the postmodern condition is represented in part by an "Airborne Toxic Event," a cloud of gas, Nyodene D, which floats above a tranquil All-American college town.4 A sense of crisis is felt, but felt obliquely and no one knows exactly what harm has been done. In Albert Camus' The Plague, by contrast, the disease that infests the North African town of Oran acts to awaken its citizenry, confronting the populace with the moral imperatives to fight or flee.5 Perhaps the metaphor of quarantine symbolizes the hard boundaries of modernism.Capitalism seeks to dissolve conflict. It operates silently, in the realm of social production, like a cloud of gas. Denise, Jack Gladney's daughter in White Noise, mumbles over and over in her sleep, "Toyota Corolla, Toyota Celica, Toyota Cressida...."6 There is a sense of ontological change, that the expanding reach of media, information, and technology rewires the way we think, the way we dream. Tensions are willed away. The expansion and survival of market shares, after all, depend on the peaceful erosion of boundaries—boundaries that demarcate what we learn, what we buy, and who we are.Questions about what this new system means—this new mind-set—are explored in a book called Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.7 These writers posit a global world of communication, cooperation, and affect, where an increase in hybrids creates a kind of "omniversality" where the virtual, natural, and ideological converge.8 In the dialectical relationship that Jorgensen shares with writers like Paulo Freire and Maxine Greene, there is no acceptable synthesis, no peaceful co-existence, between oppressors and oppressed. While according to Freire, the oppressed may internalize or house characteristics of the oppressor. In the global world of capital, the oppositional nature of the Other is replaced by niches or fragments, dissolving differences into marketing opportunities, really. That the avant-garde no longer exists is proof of this new state.As the essentialist nature of the Other fades away... (shrink)
This book encourages a debate over musical modernity; a debate considering the question whether an examination of the history of European art music may enrich our picture of modernity and whether our understanding of music's development may be transformed by insights into the nature of modernity provided by other historical disciplines.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Response to Eva Alerby and Cecilia Ferm, “Learning Music: Embodied Experience in the Life-World”Christine A. BrownI was recently asked to settle a friendly debate between two college graduates. The first, my daughter's boyfriend, argued that someone with talent and motivation could become as creative a composer without formal musical training as with it. The other, my daughter, vigorously countered that while someone might compose well on one's own, the (...) result would not be as versatile or thoughtfully developed as it could be with good formal instruction. I saw the musical educations of the debaters reflected in their arguments. My daughter had accumulated fourteen years of formal instruction in violin, cello, voice, and dance and took part in high school choral, theatrical, and orchestral performances. Her studies continued into college and from time to time she performs in community theater. Her boyfriend was the only musically trained member of his family. At his own request he studied piano for five years, later channeling his musical energies into a rock group. Though he did not study music in college, he continues to play keyboard and guitar. Both agree that the ongoing debate between them illustrates the strong connection between musical training and musical valuing. The life-world of their experiences shaped their judgments of musical quality and left imprints on their views of what matters more, talent or training. I will return to this scenario later.I find solid points of agreement with Eva Alerby and Cecilia Ferm starting with their premise that music learning is most effective when taught within a context. While some students prefer learning in a linear, rule-oriented setting, more often than not a musical concept will be comprehended best if it is first experienced within a variety of works. Regarding extra-musical contexts, furthermore, recent evidence supporting the integration of subject areas at the elementary level appears to extend the boundaries of musical learning in a positive direction. Additionally, the authors' description of embodied musical learning holds great interest. Their argument that musical learning must be appropriated within the body resonates strongly within me as I reflect upon performing and teaching piano. Experience with beginning level adult pianists suggests to me that once the awkwardness of newly-learned movements fades with time and effort, students often discover a close interaction between their physical and conceptual knowledge of music. Of related interest is the authors' definition of musicality as taking embodied musical knowledge and making it one's own. This surpasses physical mastery of an instrument and describes a personal [End Page 208] and emotional investment in music. It is at this point in the essay that the recognizable link between mind, body, and emotion in music is most clear.Alongside these engaging ideas, however, are statements throughout the essay that invite further questions or comments. First among these is the statement that the knowledge resulting from learning is not always what was intended or planned. While this is often the case, elaboration upon modes of knowledge in question would help clarify the authors' ideas. Since knowledge takes a variety of forms, as the authors imply, these forms should be explored, defined, and applied to the process of teaching and learning music.Related to that suggestion is my response to the statement that the aim of music education is to produce musical knowledge. I am assuming that musical knowledge includes an age-appropriate blend of performance skill, reading ability, ear training, historical and cultural connections, basic theoretical and stylistic understanding, and acquaintance with creative processes. In many regions of our country, public arts education has been de-valued to the extent that we must convince administrators, parents, and sometimes students, of its importance. Until this situation improves, I must personally consider the aim of music education as producing, alongside musical knowledge, the desire for music as a lifelong pursuit, be it active or passive. Without this desire, musical knowledge gained often goes unused. Referring to my opening anecdote, my daughter is not participating in music while her less extensively trained boyfriend is. I know of several students like her who gained expertise on an instrument and who have now stopped playing for... (shrink)
Of the many difficult questions that populate the rather treacherous terrain of the philosophy of music, the one that perplexes and interests me the most often crops up in various guises in the myriad books of‘ Quotations for music lovers’ and such like. The following version may be said to capture its fundamental idea. Given that music doesn’t seem in any obvious sense to be about anything precisely, why do we seem to think that it conveys so much so strongly?
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. (shrink)