In the pre-modern tradition, the aesthetics of music or musical aesthetics explored the mathematical and cosmological dimensions of rhythmic and harmonic organization. In the eighteenth century, focus shifted to the experience of hearing music, and thus to questions about its beauty and human enjoyment (plaisir and jouissance) of music. The origin of this philosophic shift is sometimes attributed to Baumgarten in the 18th century, followed by Kant. Through their writing, the ancient term aesthetics, meaning sensory perception, received its present-day connotation. In recent decades philosophers have tended to emphasize issues besides beauty and enjoyment. For example, music's capacity to express emotion has been a central issue.
Aesthetics is a sub-discipline of philosophy. In the 20th century, important contributions to the aesthetics of music were made by Peter Kivy, Jerrold Levinson, Roger Scruton, and Stephen Davies. However, many musicians, music critics, and other non-philosophers have contributed to the aesthetics of music. In the 19th century, a significant debate arose between Eduard Hanslick, a music critic and musicologist, and composer Richard Wagner regarding whether instrumental music could communicate emotions to the listener. Wagner and his disciples argued that instrumental music could communicate emotions and images; composers who held this belief wrote instrumental tone poems, which attempted to tell a story or depict a landscape using instrumental music. Hanslick and his partisans asserted that instrumental music is simply patterns of sound that do not communicate any emotions or images.
Since ancient times, it has been thought that music has the ability to affect our emotions, intellect, and psychology; it can assuage our loneliness or incite our passions. The Ancient Greek philosopher Plato suggests in The Republic that music has a direct effect on the soul. Therefore, he proposes that in the ideal regime, music would be closely regulated by the state (Book VII).
There has been a strong tendency in the aesthetics of music to emphasize the paramount importance of compositional structure; however, other issues concerning the aesthetics of music include lyricism, harmony, hypnotism, emotiveness, temporal dynamics, resonance, playfulness, and color (see also musical development).
In the 18th century, music was considered so far outside the realm of aesthetic theory (then conceived of in visual terms) that music was barely mentioned in William Hogarth's treatise The Analysis of Beauty. He considered dance beautiful (closing the treatise with a discussion of the minuet), but treated music important only insofar as it could provide the proper accompaniment for the dancers.
However, by the end of the century, people began to distinguish the topic of music and its own beauty from music as part of a mixed media, as in opera and dance. Immanuel Kant, whose Critique of Judgment is generally considered the most important and influential work on aesthetics in the 18th century, argued that instrumental music is beautiful but ultimately trivial. Compared to the other fine arts, it does not engage the understanding sufficiently, and it lacks moral purpose. To display the combination of genius and taste that combines ideas and beauty, Kant thought that music must be combined with words, as in song and opera.
In the 19th century, the era of romanticism in music, some composers and critics argued that music should and could express ideas, images, emotions, or even a whole literary plot. Challenging Kant's reservations about instrumental music, in 1813 E. T. A. Hoffman argued that music was fundamentally the art of instrumental composition. Five years later, Arthur Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation argued that instrumental music is the greatest art, because it is uniquely capable of representing the metaphysical organization of reality.
Although the Romantic movement accepted the thesis that instrumental music has representational capacities, most did not support Schopenhauer's linking of music and metaphysics. The mainstream consensus endorsed music's capacity to represent particular emotions and situations. In 1832, composer Robert Schumann stated that his piano work Papillons was "intended as a musical representation" of the final scene of a novel by Jean Paul, Flegeljahre. The thesis that the value of music is related to its representational function was vigorously countered by the formalism of Eduard Hanslick, setting off the "War of the Romantics."
This fight divided the aesthetics into two competing groups: On one side are formalists (e.g., Hanslick), who emphasize that the rewards of music are found in appreciation of musical form or design, while on the other side are the anti-formalists, such as Richard Wagner, who regarded musical form as a means to other artistic ends.
A group of modernist writers in the early 20th century (including the poet Ezra Pound) believed that music was essentially pure because it didn't represent anything, or make reference to anything beyond itself. In a sense, they wanted to bring poetry closer to Hanslick's ideas about the autonomous, self-sufficient character of music. (Bucknell 2002) Dissenters from this view notably included Albert Schweitzer, who argued against the alleged 'purity' of music in a classic work on Bach. Far from being a new debate, this disagreement between modernists and their critics was a direct continuation of the 19th-century debate about the autonomy of music.
Among 20th-century composers, Igor Stravinsky is the most prominent composer to defend the modernist idea of musical autonomy. When a composer creates music, Stravinsky claims, the only relevant thing "is his apprehension of the contour of the form, for the form is everything. He can say nothing whatever about meanings" (Stravinsky 1962, p. 115). Although listeners often look for meanings in music, Stravinsky warned that these are distractions from the musical experience.
The most distinctive development in the aesthetics of music in the 20th century was that attention was directed at the distinction between 'higher' and 'lower' music, now understood to align with the distinction between art music and popular music, respectively. Theodor Adorno suggested that culture industries churn out a debased mass of unsophisticated, sentimental products that have replaced more 'difficult' and critical art forms that might lead people to actually question social life. False needs are cultivated in people by the culture industries. These needs can be both created and satisfied by the capitalist system, and can replace people's 'true' needs: freedom, full expression of human potential and creativity, and genuine creative happiness. Thus, those trapped in the false notions of beauty according to a capitalist mode of thinking can only hear beauty in dishonest terms (citation necessary).
Beginning with Peter Kivy's work in the 1970s, analytic philosophy has contributed extensively to the aesthetics of music. Analytic philosophy pays very little attention to the topic of musical beauty. Instead, Kivy inspired extensive debate about the nature of emotional expressiveness in music. He also contributed to the debate over the nature of authentic performances of older music arguing that much of the debate was incoherent because it failed to distinguish among four distinct standards of authentic performance of music (1995).
Simon Frith (2004, p. 17-9) argues that, "'bad music' is a necessary concept for musical pleasure, for musical aesthetics." He distinguishes two common kinds of bad music: the Worst Records Ever Made type, which include "Tracks which are clearly incompetent musically; made by singers who can't sing, players who can't play, producers who can't produce," and "Tracks involving genre confusion. The most common examples are actors or TV stars recording in the latest style." Another type of "bad music" is "rock critical lists," such as "Tracks that feature sound gimmicks that have outlived their charm or novelty" and "Tracks that depend on false sentiment [...], that feature an excess of feeling molded into a radio-friendly pop song."
Frith gives three common qualities attributed to bad music: inauthentic, [in] bad taste (see also: kitsch), and stupid. He argues that "The marking off of some tracks and genres and artists as 'bad' is a necessary part of popular music pleasure; it is a way we establish our place in various music worlds. And 'bad' is a key word here because it suggests that aesthetic and ethical judgements are tied together here: not to like a record is not just a matter of taste; it is also a matter of argument, and argument that matters" (p. 28). Frith's analysis of popular music is based in sociology.
Theodor Adorno was a prominent philosopher who wrote on the aesthetics of popular music. A Marxist, Adorno was extremely hostile to popular music. His theory was largely formulated in response to the growing popularity of American music in Europe between World War I and World War II. As a result, Adorno often uses "jazz" as his example of what he believed was wrong with popular music; however, for Adorno this term included everyone from Louis Armstrong to Bing Crosby. He attacked popular music claiming that it is simplistic and repetitive, and encourages a fascist mindset (1973, p. 126).
However good or bad it sounds to its audience, he believed that music is genuinely good only if it challenges society through its role as an inaccessible Other. This function is advanced by musical structure, rather than lyrics. In his opinion, although many popular musicians seem to superficially oppose the political status quo, the use of familiar song forms and the artist's involvement in capitalism results in music that ultimately encourages the audience to accept things as they are - only radically experimental music can encourage audiences to become critical of prevailing society. However, the mass media cannot handle the confrontational nature of good music, and offers instead a steady diet of recycled, simplified and politically ineffective music.
Besides Adorno, Theodore Gracyk provides the most extensive philosophical analysis of popular music. He argues that conceptual categories and distinctions developed in response to art music are systematically misleading when applied to popular music (1996). At the same time, the social and political dimensions of popular music do not deprive it of aesthetic value (2007).
In 2007 musicologist and journalist Craig Schuftan published The Culture Club, a book drawing links between modernism art movements and popular music of today and that of past decades and even centuries. His story involves drawing lines between art, or high culture, and pop, or low culture. A more scholarly study of the same topic, Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde, was published five years earlier by philosopher Bernard Gendron.
In Germany, the musicologist Ralf von Appen (2007) has published a book on the aesthetics of popular music that focuses on everyday judgments of popular records. He analyzes the structures and aesthetic categories behind judgments found on amazon.com concerning records by musicians such as Bob Dylan, Eminem, Queens of the Stone Age etc. In a second step, von Appen interprets these findings on the basis of current theoretical positions in the field of philosophical aesthetics.
Affect may refer to:
Affect (linguistics), attitude or emotion that a speaker brings to an utterance
Affect (psychology), the experience of feeling or emotion
Affect display, signs of emotion, such as facial expression, vocalization, and posture
Affective science, the scientific study of emotion
Blunted affect or affective flattening, a reduction in emotional reactivity
Labile affect, the unstable display of emotion
Affected accent; see Accent (sociolinguistics)
Affective computing, an area of research in computer science aiming to understand the emotional state of usersAlan Detweiler
Alan Detweiler (15 June 1926 – 25 February 2012) was a Canadian composer, author, and patron of the arts. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and attended the Toronto Conservatory of Music. He obtained degrees in philosophy at the University of Toronto and Trinity College, Dublin, and earned a Ph.D. in the Aesthetics of Music from the University of London. His composition teachers included Lennox Berkeley and Howard Ferguson. His major works include David and Goliath (1969), a masque for soloists, SATB chorus, and small ensemble, and Theseus and the Minotaur (2011). Alan Detweiler created and administered the annual Detweiler Competition, which awarded prizes for the visual arts at Upper Canada College in Toronto and Bedford School in England.Art music
Art music (alternately called classical music, cultivated music, serious music, and canonic music) is music that implies advanced structural and theoretical considerations or a written musical tradition. The terms "serious" or "cultivated" are frequently used in relation to music in order to present a contrast with ordinary, everyday music (i.e. popular and folk music, also called "vernacular music"). At the beginning of the 20th century art music was divided into "serious music" and "light music".Carl Dahlhaus
Carl Dahlhaus (June 10, 1928 – March 13, 1989), a musicologist from (West) Berlin, was one of the major contributors to the development of musicology as a scholarly discipline during the post-war era.
Dahlhaus was born in Hanover. His education was interrupted by the Second World War where he served on the front and as an anti-aircraft auxiliary. He completed school exams through a special program designed for those engaged in combat. He showed an interest in banned literature and was exceptionally well read. After the war, he first studied law, later musicology at the University of Göttingen and Freiburg im Breisgau. His thesis at Göttingen in 1953 concerned the masses of Josquin. In the 1950s he was a co-founder of the Darmstadt new music festival. After a period as a dramaturg at the German Theater in Göttingen from 1950 to 1958, a job obtained on the recommendation of Berthold Brecht, he became musical editor of the Stuttgarter Zeitung, a newspaper, from 1960 to 1962. From 1962 to 1966 he served as a research assistant at the state musical research center at the University of Kiel. He earned a professorial grade from that university where he investigated the origins of harmonic tonality. In 1967 was hired as professor in music history at the Berlin Institute of Technology.
Dahlhaus wrote 25 books, more than 400 articles, and contributed to 150 other works on a wide range of subjects, though the majority of these on the history of western music and particularly that of the 19th century (i.e. Romantic music). He was very interested in the work of Richard Wagner and his ideas about musical drama as a 'total artwork' and how a new language on society and politics was being formed through the work of so-called 'modernist' composers; that art was no longer just 'art for art's sake'. His other favourite topics included music theory, the aesthetics of music, and the prehistory of "new music".
Dahlhaus was honored with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Grand Cross with Star), a Blue Max, and accepted into the German Academy. In 1987, he was awarded the Frankfurter Musikpreis.
He died in Berlin.Cynthia M. Grund
Cynthia M. Grund (born 19 January 1956, New Haven, Connecticut) is an American philosopher and educator who as of August 2016 is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Denmark where she is also Research Director for The Aesthetics of Music and Sound project.Daleth of Elphame EP
Daleth of Elphame EP is a 2002 EP by The Orb released on Badorb.com. It was the only EP/single released by Badorb.com on CD.Dalibor Davidović
Dalibor Davidović (born 3 January 1972 in Našice) is a musicologist and university professor.
Davidović studied musicology at the Zagreb Music Academy (B.A. and M.A.) and obtained his PhD from the University of Hamburg.
His principal areas of research are systematic musicology and aesthetics of music. He published extensively on the epistemological problems of the music studies. In his book Identity and Music: Between Criticism and Technique he explores the contemporary music scholarship concerned with identity politics. His recent research has been focused on the aesthetic problem of listening, on the notion of anarchy in the work of John Cage and on the music ontology of Jewish philosopher Ivan Focht. He is currently researching the work of German film director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.
He teaches at the Department of Musicology at the Music Academy in Zagreb. From 2016 to 2018 visiting researcher at Berlin University of the Arts. He translated into Croatian books on aesthetics and on philosophy of religion.Dimitrije Bužarovski
Dimitrije Bužarovski Ph.D. (Macedonian: Димитрије Бужаровски) (born August 8, 1952, Skopje, Macedonia) is a Macedonian composer, versatile artist and a scholar with interests in different fields: composition, musicology, computer and electronic music, performance, teaching and research.Eduard Hanslick
Eduard Hanslick (11 September 1825 – 6 August 1904) was a German Bohemian music critic.Formalism (music)
In music theory and especially in the branch of study called the aesthetics of music, formalism is the concept that a composition's meaning is entirely determined by its form.Group of Eight (music)
The Group of Eight (also known by its Spanish name Grupo de los Ocho) was a group of Spanish composers and musicologists, including Jesús Bal y Gay, Ernesto Halffter and his brother Rodolfo, Juan José Mantecón, Julián Bautista, Fernando Remacha, Rosa García Ascot, Salvador Bacarisse and Gustavo Pittaluga. The group, loosely modelled on Les Six and The Five (similar nationalist coalitions of composers), was formed in 1930 to oppose musical conservatism in Spain. Its members, who were closely allied to the literary movement Generation of '27, met in Madrid's Residencia de Estudiantes to perform avant-garde works and discuss the aesthetics of music. The group came to an end with the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing Francoist State when most of its members left Madrid or went into exile abroad.Jerrold Levinson
Jerrold Levinson (born 11 July 1948 in Brooklyn) is Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is particularly noted for his work on the aesthetics of music, as well as for his search for meaning and ontology in film, art and humour.Kendall Walton
Kendall Lewis Walton (born 1939) is an American philosopher, the Emeritus Charles Stevenson Collegiate Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. His work mainly deals with theoretical questions about the arts and issues of philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of language. His book Mimesis as Make Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts develops a theory of make-believe and uses it to understand the nature and varieties of representation in the arts. He has also developed an account of photography as transparent, defending the idea that we see through photographs, much as we see through telescopes or mirrors, and written extensively on pictorial representation, fiction and the emotions, the ontological status of fictional entities, the aesthetics of music, metaphor, and aesthetic value.Meditation music
Meditation music is music performed to aid in the practice of meditation. It can have a specific religious content, but also more recently has been associated with modern composers who use meditation techniques in their process of composition, or who compose such music with no particular religious group as a focus. The concept also includes music performed as an act of meditation.Nikša Gligo
Nikša Gligo (born 6 April 1946 in Split) is a Croatian musicologist and university professor.
Gligo's scientific interests include 20th-century music, music terminology, the aesthetics of music and music semiology. He has been involved with the Music Biennale Zagreb in various capacities from 1973 to 1991 and from 2002 to the present. He served as the art director of the 10th Biennale in 1979. He is a full member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 2006, and a member of section Musicology & History of Art & Architecture of the Academia Europaea since 2014.Outline of aesthetics
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to aesthetics:
Aesthetics – branch of philosophy and axiology concerned with the nature of beauty.Philosophy of music
Philosophy of music is the study of "...fundamental questions about the nature of music and our experience of it". The philosophical study of music has many connections with philosophical questions in metaphysics and aesthetics.
Some basic questions in the philosophy of music are:
What is the definition of music? (what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for classifying something as music?)
What is the relationship between music and mind?
What is the relationship between music and language?
What does musical history reveal to us about the world?
What is the connection between music and emotions? (in the 19th century there was a debate over whether instrumental music could convey emotion)
What is meaning in relation to music?Roger Scruton
Sir Roger Vernon Scruton (; born 27 February 1944) is an English philosopher and writer who specialises in aesthetics and political philosophy, particularly in the furtherance of traditionalist conservative views.Editor from 1982 to 2001 of The Salisbury Review, a conservative political journal, Scruton has written over 50 books on philosophy, art, music, politics, literature, culture, sexuality, and religion; he has also written novels and two operas. His most notable publications include The Meaning of Conservatism (1980), Sexual Desire (1986), The Aesthetics of Music (1997), and How to Be a Conservative (2014). He has been a regular contributor to the popular media, including The Times, The Spectator, and the New Statesman.
Scruton embraced conservatism after witnessing the May 1968 student protests in France. From 1971 to 1992 he was a lecturer and professor of aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London, after which he held several part-time academic positions at the University of Oxford, the University of St Andrews, as well as the position of Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in the United States. He became known in the 1980s for helping to establish underground academic networks in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe, for which he was awarded the Czech Republic's Medal of Merit (First Class) by President Václav Havel in 1998.Scruton was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for "services to philosophy, teaching and public education".Theory of painting
The idea of founding a theory of painting after the model of music theory, was suggested by Goethe in 1807, and gained much regard among the avant-garde artists of the 1920s, the Weimar culture period, like Paul Klee.