Moved by Music Alone

British Journal of Aesthetics 61 (4):455-470 (2021)
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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.

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Tom Cochrane
Flinders University

Citations of this work

Values in the Air: Musical Contagion, Social Appraisal and Metaphor Experience.Federico Lauria - 2023 - Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics 15:328-343.
Emoções Musicais.Federico Lauria - 2023 - Compêndio Em Linha de Problemas de Filosofia Analítica, Ricardo Santos e David Yates (Eds.), Lisboa: Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa.

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References found in this work

The emotions: a philosophical introduction.Julien A. Deonna & Fabrice Teroni - 2012 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Fabrice Teroni.
Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology.Robert Campbell Roberts - 2003 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology.Gregory Currie & Ian Ravenscroft - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press. Edited by Christoph Hoerl.
Emotion and meaning in music.Leonard B. Meyer - 1956 - [Chicago]: University of Chicago Press.

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