Musical pluralism and the science of music

Anton Killin
Australian National University
Adrian Currie
Cambridge University
The scientific investigation of music requires contributions from a diverse array of disciplines. Given the diverse methodologies, interests and research targets of the disciplines involved, we argue that there is a plurality of legitimate research questions about music, necessitating a focus on integration. In light of this we recommend a pluralistic conception of music—that there is no unitary definition divorced from some discipline, research question or context. This has important implications for how the scientific study of music ought to proceed: we show that some definitions are complementary, that is, they reflect different research interests and ought to be retained and, where possible, integrated, while others are antagonistic, they represent real empirical disagreement about music’s nature and how to account for it. We illustrate this in discussion of two related issues: questions about the evolutionary function of music, and questions of the innateness of music. These debates have been, in light of pluralism, misconceived. We suggest that, in both cases, scientists ought to proceed by constructing integrated models which take into account the dynamic interaction between different aspects of music
Keywords Definitions of music  Musicality  Pluralism  Musical cognition  Evolution of music
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DOI 10.1007/s13194-015-0123-z
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Vison.David Marr - 1982 - W. H. Freeman.

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