Music can be described as sequences of events that are structured in pitch and time. Studying music processing provides insight into how complex event sequences are learned, perceived, and represented by the brain. Given the temporal nature of sound, expectations, structural integration, and cognitive sequencing are central in music perception (i.e., which sounds are most likely to come next and at what moment should they occur?). This paper focuses on similarities in music and language cognition research, (...) showing that music cognition research provides insight into the understanding of not only music processing but also language processing and the processing of other structured stimuli. The hypothesis of shared resources between music and language processing and of domain-general dynamic attention has motivated the development of research to test music as a means to stimulate sensory, cognitive, and motor processes. (shrink)
This is a long-awaited reissue of Jerrold Levinson's 1990 book which gathers together the writings that made him a leading figure in contemporary aesthetics. These highly influential essays are essential reading for debates on the definition of art, the ontology of art, emotional response to art, expression in art, and the nature of art forms.
What is Life? This is the question asked by Denis Noble in this very personal and at times deeply lyrical book. Noble is a renowned physiologist and systems biologist, and he argues that the genome is not life itself: to understand what life is, we must view it at a variety of different levels, all interacting with each other in a complex web. It is that emergent web, full of feedback between levels, from the gene to the wider environment, that (...) is life. (shrink)
Music is an important philosophical theme in Confucian writings, one that is intimately related to ritual. But the relationship between music and ritual requires clarification. This paper seeks to argue for a general sense of music that reflects a particular aspect of ritual that has to do with performance. There is much material available in classical texts, such as the 'Record of Music' ('Yueji'), that allows for nuanced explications of the musical qualities of such performances. Thus (...) explicated, those musical terms provide for a way of speaking about the overall effects of ritual that is not bound to specific choreographic details or particular ritual rules. Finally, it is suggested that the Confucian notion of ren 仁 could be usefully compared to the generalised notion of music. (shrink)
What is Life? To answer this question, Denis Noble argues that we must look beyond the gene's eye view. For modern 'systems biology' considers life on a variety of levels, as an intricate web of feedback between gene, cell, organ, body, and environment. He shows how it is both a biologically rigorous and richly rewarding way of understanding life.
Music is elusive. describing it is problematic. In particular its aesthetic properties cannot be captured in literal description. Beyond very simple terms, they cannot be literally described. In this sense, the aesthetic description of music is essentially nonliteral. An adequate aesthetic description of music must have resort to metaphor or other nonliteral devices. I maintain that this is because of the nature of the aesthetic properties being described. I defend this view against an apparently simple objection put (...) by Malcolm Budd. dealing with this objection will take us into some surprising terrain. We are led to consider issues concerning privacy and the language for describing sensations. In the light of these considerations, I develop the essentially nonliteralist thesis and explore some of its consequences. (shrink)
Drawing from ethnographic, empirical, and historical / cultural perspectives, we examine the extent to which visual aspects of music contribute to the communication that takes place between performers and their listeners. First, we introduce a framework for understanding how media and genres shape aural and visual experiences of music. Second, we present case studies of two performances, and describe the relation between visual and aural aspects of performance. Third, we report empirical evidence that visual aspects of performance reliably (...) inﬂuence perceptions of musical structure and affective interpretations of music. Finally, we trace new and old media trajectories of aural and visual dimensions of music, and highlight how our conceptions, perceptions and appreciation of music are intertwined with technological innovation and media deployment strategies. (shrink)
According to pluralism about some concept, there are multiple non-equivalent, legitimate concepts pertaining to the ontological category in question. It is an open question whether conceptual pluralism implies anti-realism about that category. In this article, I argue that at least for the case of music, it does not. To undermine the application of an influential move from pluralism to anti-realism, then, I provide an argument in support of indifference realism about music, by appeal to music archaeological research, (...) via an analogy with Adrian Currie’s indifference realism about species licensed by paleobiological research. (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)
There is a popular theory in the metaphysics of time according to which time is one of four similar dimensions that make up a single manifold that is appropriately called spacetime. One consequence of this thesis is that changing an object’s orientation in the manifold does not change its intrinsic features. In this paper I offer a new argument against this popular theory. I claim that an especially good performance of a particularly beautiful piece of music, when oriented within (...) the manifold in the normal way, adds to the intrinsic value of the world, but that if the same performance is turned sideways within the manifold, so that it involves a number of different notes spread out in space and all occurring at the same time, then it does not add the same intrinsic value to the world. (shrink)
We describe music in terms of emotion. How should we understand this? Some say that emotion descriptions should be understood literally. Let us call those views “literalist.” By contrast “nonliteralists” deny this and say that such descriptions are typically metaphorical.1 This issue about the linguistic description of music is connected with a central issue about the na- ture of music. That issue is whether there is any essential connection between music and emotion. According to what we (...) can call “emotion theories,” it is essential to music to be somehow related to real emotion. Prominent examples of such theories are these: it is the main function of all or most music to express emotions, to arouse emotions, or to represent emotions. 2 In my view, such theories have little plausibility, and they face a battery of powerful objections. In particular, these theories are objectionable on the grounds that essential features of emotion preclude such essential relations between music and emotion. 3 Yet to argue against various specific emotion theories of music, of which there is a large variety, does not address the reasons that draw people to emotion theories. I think that there are two main reasons. The first is that the most obvious explanation of why we describe music in emotion terms is that emotions, or relations to emotions, are part of what music is. The second reason is introspective, or phenomenological—that much music moves us when we listen to it, so it seems that music generates emotions in us, which we project onto the music when we describe it in emotion terms. In this article, my negative purpose is to dissolve these two reasons. My positive purpose is to argue for a particular nonliteralist view of linguistic descriptions of music in terms of emotion, a.. (shrink)
I explain a tension between musical creationism and the view that there is no vague existence. I then suggest ways to reconcile these views. My central conclusion is that, although some versions of musical creationism imply vague existence, others do not. I discuss versions of musical creationism held by Jerrold Levinson, Simon Evnine, and Kit Fine. I also present two new versions. I close by considering whether the tension is merely an instance of a general problem raised by artifacts, both (...) abstract and concrete. I argue that on at least one defensible account of music the tension is especially problematic for abstracta. I focus on musical works, but much of the paper straightforwardly applies to other kinds of abstract artifacts. (shrink)
Two Greek myths attest to the power of music to blur distinctions between humans and nonhumans: Orpheus made music that inspired human-like attention in animals, trees, and stones, while the Sirens reduced passing sailors to the level of animals incapable of resisting their song. Recast in terms employed by Lacan, these myths portray music as calling forth a response in creatures thought merely able to react and, contrariwise, stripping away the capacity for response in humans, leaving nothing (...) but reaction in its place. Critiquing Lacan’s dogmatic distinction between human and animal behavior, Derrida questioned the “purity and indivisibility” of reaction and response and recommended that critics explore the involvement of both in “the whole differentiated field of experience and of a world of life-forms.” In this essay, I take up Derrida’s challenge with regard to music as it has been understood in the European aesthetic tradition. While music has long been considered capable of provoking highly refined cognitive and emotional responses, it also acts upon the body in a wide variety of ways, many of them involuntary – a fact that has struck music’s advocates as alternately promising and disturbing. Revisiting eighteenth- and nineteenth-century commentaries by the philosophers and critics Johann Georg Sulzer, Johann Gottfried Herder, and Eduard Hanslick, I first illuminate persistent anxieties over the admixture of reaction and response in musical listening. I then turn to recent ethological studies in order to argue against any decisive separation of the human from the nonhuman in the arena of musical aesthetics. (shrink)
It has often been claimed, and frequently denied, that music derives some or all of its artistic value from the relation in which it stands to the emotions. This book presents and subjects to critical examination the chief theories about the relationship between the art of music and the emotions.
A successor to the acclaimed 'Music and Emotion', The Handbook of Music and Emotion provides comprehensive coverage of the field, in all its breadth and depth. As well as summarizing what is currently known about music and emotion, it will also stimulate further research in promising directions that have been little studied.
In Flourish, the positive psychologist Seligman (2011) identifies five commonly recognized factors that are characteristic of human flourishing or well-being: (1) “positive emotion,” (2) “relationships,” (3) “engagement,” (4) “achievement,” and (5) “meaning” (p. 24). Although there is no settled set of necessary and sufficient conditions neatly circumscribing the bounds of human flourishing (Seligman, 2011), we would mostly likely consider a person that possessed high levels of these five factors as paradigmatic or prototypical of human flourishing. Accordingly, if we wanted to (...) go about the practical task of actually increasing our level of well-being, we ought to do so by focusing on practically increasing the levels of the five factors that are characteristic of well-being. If, for instance, an activity such as musical engagement can be shown to positively influence each or all of these five factors, this would be compelling evidence that an activity such as musical engagement can positively contribute to one’s living a flourishing life. I am of the belief that psychological research can and should be used, not only to identify and diagnose maladaptive psychological states, but identify and promote adaptive psychological states as well. In this article I advance the hypothesis and provide supporting evidence for the claim that musical engagement can positively contribute to one’s living a flourishing life. Since there has not yet been a substantive and up-to-date investigation of the possible role of music in contributing to one’s living a flourishing life, the purpose of this article is to conduct this investigation, thereby bridging the gap and stimulating discussion between the psychology of music and the psychology of well-being. (shrink)
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)
The visual arts include painting, sculpture, photography, video, and film. But many people would argue that music is the universal or only art of sound. In the modernist era, Western art music has incorporated unpitched sounds or ‘noise’, and I pursue the question of whether this process allows space for a non-musical soundart. Are there non-musical arts of sound—is there an art phonography, for instance, to parallel art photography? At the same time, I attempt a characterization of (...) class='Hi'>music, contrasting acoustic, aesthetic, and acousmatic accounts. My view is that there is some truth in all of these. I defend the claim that music is an art with a small ‘a’—a practice involving skill or craft whose ends are essentially aesthetic, that especially rewards aesthetic attention—whose material is sounds exhibiting tonal organization. But acoustic and acousmatic accounts help to distinguish between music and non-musical soundart, since music must have a preponderance of tones for its material. (shrink)
In “Flourish,” Martin Seligman maintained that the elements of well-being consist of “PERMA: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.” Although the question of what constitutes human flourishing or psychological well-being has remained a topic of continued debate among scholars, it has recently been argued in the literature that a paradigmatic or prototypical case of human psychological well-being would largely manifest most or all of the aforementioned PERMA factors. Further, in “A Neuroscientific Perspective on Music Therapy,” Stefan Koelsch also (...) suggested that “Music therapy can have effects that improve the psychological and physiological health of individuals,” so it seems plausible that engaging in practices of music can positively contribute to one living a more optimally flourishing life with greater psychological well-being. However, recent studies on music practice and participation have not yet been reviewed and integrated under the PERMA framework from positive psychology to further explore and explicate this possibility. This article therefore contributes to extant work by reviewing recent research on psychological well-being and music to offer support for the claim that music practice and participation can positively contribute to one living a flourishing life by positively influencing their emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. (shrink)
Why are some popular musical forms and performers universally reviled by critics and ignored by scholars-despite enjoying large-scale popularity? How has the notion of what makes "good" or "bad" music changed over the years-and what does this tell us about the writers who have assigned these tags to different musical genres? Many composers that are today part of the classical "canon" were greeted initially by bad reviews. Similarly, jazz, country, and pop musics were all once rejected as "bad" by (...) the academy that now has courses on these and many other types of music. This book addresses why this is so through a series of essays on different musical forms and performers. It looks at alternate ways of judging musical performance beyond the critical/academic nexus, and suggests new paths to follow in understanding what makes some music "popular" even if it is judged to be "bad." For anyone who has ever secretly enjoyed ABBA, Kenny G, or disco, Bad Music will be a guilty pleasure! (shrink)
Jerrold Levinson’s Music in the Moment is a welcome addition to the impressive list of books in aesthetics, particularly the philosophy of music, published in the last several years by Cornell University Press. In it Levinson expounds and defends a view, inspired by the work of the nineteenth-century English psychologist and musician Edmund Gurney, that he calls “concatenationism.” This view is billed as “a defense of the intuitive listener” against Schenkerian and other “architectonicist” theorists promoting the notion that (...) “elaborate apprehensions of the form and technique of music are necessary to understanding it”. (shrink)
In fifteen essays-one new, two newly revised and expanded, three with new postscripts-Kendall L. Walton wrestles with philosophical issues concerning music, metaphor, empathy, existence, fiction, and expressiveness in the arts. These subjects are intertwined in striking and surprising ways. By exploring connections among them, appealing sometimes to notions of imagining oneself in shoes different from one's own, Walton creates a wide-ranging mosaic of innovative insights.
What is music, what is its value, and what does it mean? In this stimulating volume, Roger Scruton offers a comprehensive account of the nature and significance of music from the perspective of modern philosophy. The study begins with the metaphysics of sound. Scruton distinguishes sound from tone; analyzes rhythm, melody, and harmony; and explores the various dimensions of musical organization and musical meaning. Taking on various fashionable theories in the philosophy and theory of music, he presents (...) a compelling case for the moral significance of music, its place in our culture, and the need for taste and discrimination in performing and listening to it. Laying down principles for musical analysis and criticism, this bold work concludes with a theory of culture--and a devastating demolition of modern popular music. "A provocative new study."--The Guardian. (shrink)
In this essay, I investigate musical silence. I first discuss how to integrate the concept of silence into a general theory or definition of music. I then consider the possibility of an entirely silent musical piece. I begin with John Cage’s 4′33″, since it is the most notorious candidate for a silent piece of music, even though it is not, in fact, silent. I conclude that it is not music either, but I argue that it is a (...) piece of non-musical sound art, rather than simply a piece of theatre, as Stephen Davies has argued. I end with consideration of several other candidates for entirely silent pieces, concluding that two of these are in fact pieces of music consisting entirely of silence. (shrink)
Poetry is a literary art, and is often examined alongside the novel, stories, and theater. But poetry, much of it, has more in common with music, in important respects, than with other forms of literature. The emphasis on sound and rhythm in both poetry and music is obvious, but I will explore a very different similarity between them. All or almost all works of literary fiction have narrators—so it is said anyway—characters who, in the world of the fiction, (...) utter or write the words of the text thereby reporting the events of the story. But there is a very different way of understanding literary works, one applicable especially to poetry. Much music can be understood in a similar manner, and doing so nicely explains several important characteristics of listen-ers’ experiences. (shrink)
Evidence suggests that humans might have neurological specializations for music processing, but a compelling adaptationist account of music and dance is lacking. The sexual selection hypothesis cannot easily account for the widespread performance of music and dance in groups (especially synchronized performances), and the social bonding hypothesis has severe theoretical difficulties. Humans are unique among the primates in their ability to form cooperative alliances between groups in the absence of consanguineal ties. We propose that this unique form (...) of social organization is predicated on music and dance. Music and dance may have evolved as a coalition signaling system that could, among other things, credibly communicate coalition quality, thus permitting meaningful cooperative relationships between groups. This capability may have evolved from coordinated territorial defense signals that are common in many social species, including chimpanzees. We present a study in which manipulation of music synchrony significantly altered subjects’ perceptions of music quality, and in which subjects’ perceptions of music quality were correlated with their perceptions of coalition quality, supporting our hypothesis. Our hypothesis also has implications for the evolution of psychological mechanisms underlying cultural production in other domains such as food preparation, clothing and body decoration, storytelling and ritual, and tools and other artifacts. (shrink)
Although music is universal, there is a great deal of cultural variability in music structures. Nevertheless, some aspects of music processing generalize across cultures, whereas others rely heavily on the listening environment. Here, we discuss the development of musical knowledge, focusing on four themes: (a) capabilities that are present early in development; (b) culture-general and culture-specific aspects of pitch and rhythm processing; (c) age-related changes in pitch perception; and (d) developmental changes in how listeners perceive emotion in (...)music. (shrink)
This book is a philosophical study of the relations between hearing and thinking about music. The central problem it addresses is as follows: how is it possible to talk about what a listener perceives in terms that the listener does not recognize? By applying the concepts and techniques of analytic philosophy the author explores the ways in which musical hearing may be described as nonconceptual, and how such mental representation contrasts with conceptual thought. The author is both philosopher and (...) musicologist and uniquely combines the perspectives of both disciplines. Exploring the philosophical questions of mental representation in the relatively neglected, nonverbal domain of music, this study is a major contribution to the philosophical understanding of music perception and cognitive theory. (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 aesthetic realist interprets many descriptions of music as metaphorical descriptions of aesthetic properties of music. I argue that aesthetic realism requires that nonaesthetic words are used to express both aesthetic and nonaesthetic concepts. But having distinguished the concepts, some plausible account must be given of their relation. A causal account of the relation between the possession of aesthetic and nonaesthetic concepts provides this, since the concepts are distinct but connected. I explore and defend this account. I consider (...) the conditions of aesthetic concept possession and also the appropriation of nonaesthetic words in aesthetic descriptions. (shrink)
Discussions of extended cognition have increasingly engaged with the empirical and methodological practices of cognitive science and psychology. One topic that has received increased attention from those interested in the extended mind is music cognition. A number of authors have argued that music not only shapes emotional and cognitive processes, but also that it extends those processes beyond the bodily envelope. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the case for extended music cognition. Two accounts are (...) examined in detail: Joel Krueger’s “musically extended emotional mind” and Tom Cochrane’s “expression and extended cognition.” Each account is evaluated using three “anti-extension” arguments. I argue that Krueger and Cochrane’s accounts offer important steps toward extended music cognition, but that each account remains underdeveloped in various ways. To supplement existing approaches, I propose a complementary extended computational approach to music cognition. The claim is that music cognition forms part of an extended system in virtue of involving computational processes that range across environmental and in-the-head elements. The paper concludes by showing how the ECMC deals with each of the three anti-extension challenges and responds to objections. (shrink)
The aim of this contribution is to broaden the concept of musical meaning from an abstract and emotionally neutral cognitive representation to an emotion-integrating description that is related to the evolutionary approach to music. Starting from the dispositional machinery for dealing with music as a temporal and sounding phenomenon, musical emotions are considered as adaptive responses to be aroused in human beings as the product of neural structures that are specialized for their processing. A theoretical and empirical background (...) is provided in order to bring together the findings of music and emotion studies and the evolutionary approach to musical meaning. The theoretical grounding elaborates on the transition from referential to affective semantics, the distinction between expression and induction of emotions, and the tension between discrete-digital and analog-continuous processing of the sounds. The empirical background provides evidence from several findings such as infant-directed speech, referential emotive vocalizations and separation calls in lower mammals, the distinction between the acoustic and vehicle mode of sound perception, and the bodily and physiological reactions to the sounds. It is argued, finally, that early affective processing reflects the way emotions make our bodies feel, which in turn reflects on the emotions expressed and decoded. As such, there is a dynamic tension between nature and nurture, which is reflected in the nature-nurture-nature cycle of musical sense-making. (shrink)
The tears of Odysseus -- History : music gives voice to the ineffable -- Tears, chills, and broken bones -- The music itself -- Explaining strong emotional responses to music I -- Explaining strong emotional responses to music II -- The sublime, revisited -- Conclusion : values.
Music in dreams is rarely reported in scientific literature, while the presence of musical themes in dreams of famous musicians is anecdotally reported. We did a systematic investigation to evaluate whether the occurrence of musical dreams could be related to musical competence and practice, and to explore specific features of dreamt pieces. Thirty-five professional musicians and thirty non-musicians filled out a questionnaire about the characteristics of their musical activity and a structured dream log on the awakening for 30 consecutive (...) days. Musicians dream of music more than twice with respect to non-musicians; musical dreams frequency is related to the age of commencement of musical instruction, but not to the daily load of musical activity. Nearly half of the recalled music was non-standard, suggesting that original music can be created in dreams. (shrink)