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:
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.
A definition of music endeavors to give an accurate and concise explanation of music's basic attributes or essential nature and it involves a process of defining what is meant by the term music. Many authorities have suggested definitions, but defining music turns out to be more difficult than might first be imagined, and there is ongoing debate. A number of explanations start with the notion of music as organized sound, but they also highlight that this is perhaps too broad a definition and cite examples of organized sound that are not defined as music, such as human speech and sounds found in both natural and industrial environments. The problem of defining music is further complicated by the influence of culture in music cognition.
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"Explications of the concept of music usually begin with the idea that music is organized sound. They go on to note that this characterization is too broad, since there are many examples of organized sound that are not music, such as human speech, and the sounds non-human animals and machines make." [ citation needed ]There are many different ways of denoting the fundamental aspects of music which are more specific than "sound": popular aspects include melody (pitches that occur consecutively), harmony (pitches regarded as groups—not necessarily sounding at the same time—to form chords), rhythm, meter and timbre (also known as a sound's "color"). However, noise music may consist mainly of noise. Musique concrète often consists only of sound samples of non-musical nature, sometimes in random juxtaposition. Ambient music may consist of recordings of wildlife or nature. The arrival of these avant-garde forms of music in the 20th century have been a major challenge to traditional views of music as being based around melodies and rhythms, leading to broader characterizations.
A melody, also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include successions of other musical elements such as tonal color. It may be considered the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody.
Pitch is a perceptual property of sounds that allows their ordering on a frequency-related scale, or more commonly, pitch is the quality that makes it possible to judge sounds as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies. Pitch can be determined only in sounds that have a frequency that is clear and stable enough to distinguish from noise. Pitch is a major auditory attribute of musical tones, along with duration, loudness, and timbre.
In music, harmony considers the process by which the composition of individual sounds, or superpositions of sounds, is analysed by hearing. Usually, this means simultaneously occurring frequencies, pitches, or chords.
There was intense debate over absolute music versus program music during the late Romantic Era. Advocates of the "absolute music" perspective argued that instrumental music does not convey emotions or images to the listener. They claimed that music is not explicitly "about" anything and that it is non-representational.The idea of absolute music developed at the end of the 18th century in the writings of authors of early German Romanticism, such as Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Ludwig Tieck and E. T. A. Hoffmann. Adherents of the "program music" perspective believed that music could convey emotions and images. One example of program music is Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique , in which the fourth movement is the composer's depiction of a story about an artist who poisons himself with opium and then is executed. The majority of opposition to absolute instrumental-based music came from composer Richard Wagner and the philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Wagner's works were chiefly programmatic and often used vocalization, and he said that "Where music can go no further, there comes the word… the word stands higher than the tone." Nietzsche wrote many commentaries applauding the music of Wagner and was in fact an amateur composer himself.
Absolute music is music that is not explicitly "about" anything; in contrast to program music, it is non-representational. The idea of absolute music developed at the end of the 18th century in the writings of authors of early German Romanticism, such as Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Ludwig Tieck and E. T. A. Hoffmann but the term was not coined until 1846 where it was first used by Richard Wagner in a programme to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements. Signs are arranged in order to form semantic constructions and express relations.
German Romanticism was the dominant intellectual movement of German-speaking countries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, influencing philosophy, aesthetics, literature and criticism. Compared to English Romanticism, the German variety developed relatively late, and, in the early years, coincided with Weimar Classicism (1772–1805). In contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety of Romanticism notably valued wit, humour, and beauty.
Other Romantic philosophers and proponents of absolute music, such as Johann von Goethe saw music not only as a subjective human "language" but as an absolute transcendent means of peering into a higher realm of order and beauty. Some expressed a spiritual connection with music. In Part IV of his chief work, The World as Will and Representation (1819), Arthur Schopenhauer said that "music is the answer to the mystery of life. The most profound of all the arts, it expresses the deepest thoughts of life." In "The Immediate Stages of the Erotic, or Musical Erotic", a chapter of Either/Or (1843), Søren Kierkegaard examines the profundity of music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the sensual nature of Don Giovanni .
The World as Will and Representation is the central work of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. The first edition was published in 1818/1819, the second expanded edition in 1844, and the third expanded edition in 1859. In 1948, an abridged version was edited by Thomas Mann.
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation, wherein he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable metaphysical will. Proceeding from the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism, rejecting the contemporaneous post-Kantian philosophies of German idealism. Schopenhauer was among the first thinkers in Western philosophy to share and affirm significant tenets of Eastern philosophy, having initially arrived at similar conclusions as the result of his own philosophical work.
Either/Or is the first published work of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Appearing in two volumes in 1843 under the pseudonymous editorship of Victor Eremita, it outlines a theory of human existence, marked by the distinction between an essentially hedonistic, aesthetic mode of life and the ethical life, which is predicated upon commitment.
In his 1997 book How the Mind Works, Steven Pinker dubbed music "auditory cheesecake",a phrase that in the years since has served as a challenge to the musicologists and psychologists who believe otherwise. Among those to note this stir was Philip Ball in his book The Music Instinct where he noted that music seems to reach to the very core of what it means to be human: "There are cultures in the world where to say 'I'm not musical' would be meaningless," Ball writes, "akin to saying 'I'm not alive'." In a filmed debate, Ball suggests that music might get its emotive power through its ability to mimic people and perhaps its ability to entice us lies in music's ability to set up an expectation and then violate it.
Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.
Philip Ball is a British science writer. For over twenty years he has been an editor of the journal Nature for which he continues to write regularly. He now writes a regular column in Chemistry World. He has contributed to publications ranging from New Scientist to the New York Times, The Guardian, the Financial Times and New Statesman. He is the regular contributor to Prospect magazine, and also a columnist for Chemistry World, Nature Materials and BBC Future. He has broadcast on many occasions on radio and TV, and in June 2004 he presented a three-part serial on nanotechnology, Small Worlds, on BBC Radio 4.
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 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. Harry Partch and some other musicologists, such as Kyle Gann, have studied and tried to popularize microtonal music and the usage of alternate musical scales. Also, many modern composers like La Monte Young, Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca paid much attention to a system of tuning called just intonation.
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).
It is often thought that music has the ability to affect our emotions, intellect, and psychology; it can assuage our loneliness or incite our passions. The 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).
Aesthetics, or esthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste and with the creation or appreciation of beauty.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. He became the youngest ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life; he completed much of his core writing in the following decade. In 1889 at age 44, he suffered a collapse and afterward, a complete loss of his mental faculties. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897 and then with his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Nietzsche died in 1900.
Theodor W. Adorno was a German philosopher, sociologist, psychologist and composer known for his critical theory of society.
Modernity, a topic in the humanities and social sciences, is both a historical period, as well as the ensemble of particular socio-cultural norms, attitudes and practices that arose in the wake of the Renaissance—in the "Age of Reason" of 17th-century thought and the 18th-century "Enlightenment". Some commentators consider the era of modernity to have ended by 1930, with World War II in 1945, or the 1980s or 1990s; the following era is called postmodernity. The term "contemporary history" is also used to refer to the post-1945 timeframe, without assigning it to either the modern or postmodern era.
In music, modernism is a philosophical and aesthetic stance underlying the period of change and development in musical language that occurred around the turn of the 20th century, a period of diverse reactions in challenging and reinterpreting older categories of music, innovations that led to new ways of organizing and approaching harmonic, melodic, sonic, and rhythmic aspects of music, and changes in aesthetic worldviews in close relation to the larger identifiable period of modernism in the arts of the time. The operative word most associated with it is "innovation". Its leading feature is a "linguistic plurality", which is to say that no one music genre ever assumed a dominant position.
Inherent within musical modernism is the conviction that music is not a static phenomenon defined by timeless truths and classical principles, but rather something which is intrinsically historical and developmental. While belief in musical progress or in the principle of innovation is not new or unique to modernism, such values are particularly important within modernist aesthetic stances.
Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits is a book by 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, originally published in 1878. A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims, was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow, followed in 1880.
Walter Arnold Kaufmann was a German-American philosopher, translator, and poet. A prolific author, he wrote extensively on a broad range of subjects, such as authenticity and death, moral philosophy and existentialism, theism and atheism, Christianity and Judaism, as well as philosophy and literature. He served more than 30 years as a professor at Princeton University.
Aesthetics of music is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste in music, and with the creation or appreciation of beauty in music. 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 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.
Surrealist music is music which uses unexpected juxtapositions and other surrealist techniques. Discussing Theodor Adorno, Max Paddison defines surrealist music as that which "juxtaposes its historically devalued fragments in a montage-like manner which enables them to yield up new meanings within a new aesthetic unity," though Lloyd Whitesell says this is Paddison's gloss of the term. Anne LeBaron cites automatism, including improvisation, and collage as the primary techniques of musical surrealism. According to Whitesell, Paddison quotes Adorno's 1930 essay "Reaktion und Fortschritt" as saying "Insofar as surrealist composing makes use of devalued means, it uses these as devalued means, and wins its form from the 'scandal' produced when the dead suddenly spring up among the living".
Christopher Janaway is a philosopher and author. Before moving to Southampton in 2005, Janaway taught at the University of Sydney and Birkbeck, University of London. His recent research has been on Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche and aesthetics. His 2007 book Beyond Selflessness: Reading Nietzsche's Genealogy focuses on a critical examination of Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals. Janaway currently lectures at the University of Southampton, including a module focusing on Nietzsche.
Babette Babich is an American philosopher known for her studies of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Anders, Adorno, and Hölderlin as well as for her work in aesthetics, including philosophy of music but also film, television, and digital media, as well as life-size bronzes in antiquity, and continental philosophy, especially the philosophy of science and technology. She has also made substantive contributions to scholarly discussion of the role of politics in institutional philosophy as well as gender in the academy. A student of Hans-Georg Gadamer, she also worked with Jacob Taubes and Paul Feyerabend. In 1996, Babich founded the journal New Nietzsche Studies, echoing the spirit of the 1974 book, The New Nietzsche, the pathbreaking collection edited by David Blair Allison.
Kathleen Marie Higgins is an American Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin where she has been teaching for over thirty years. She specializes in aesthetics, philosophy of music, nineteenth and twentieth-century continental philosophy, and philosophy of emotion.
David E. Cooper is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Durham University.
Lectures on Aesthetics is a compilation of notes from university lectures on aesthetics given by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in Heidelberg in 1818 and in Berlin in 1820/21, 1823, 1826 and 1828/29. It was compiled in 1835 by his student Heinrich Gustav Hotho, using Hegel's own hand-written notes and notes his students took during the lectures, but Hotho's work may render some of Hegel's thought more systematic than Hegel's initial presentation.
Peter Kivy was professor emeritus of musicology and philosophy at Rutgers University. He studied particularly the philosophy of music.
Aesthetic Theory is a book by the German philosopher Theodor Adorno, which was culled from drafts written between 1956 and 1969 and ultimately published posthumously in 1970. Although anchored by the philosophical study of art, the book is interdisciplinary and incorporates elements of political philosophy, sociology, metaphysics and other philosophical pursuits in keeping with Adorno's boundary-shunning methodology.
James Miller is an American writer and academic. He is known for writing about Michel Foucault, philosophy as a way of life, social movements, popular culture, intellectual history, eighteenth century to the present; radical social theory and history of political philosophy. He currently teaches at The New School.
Philosophy of the Unconscious: Speculative Results According to the Induction Method of the Physical Sciences is an 1869 book by the philosopher Eduard von Hartmann. The culmination of the speculations and findings of German romantic philosophy in the first two-thirds of the 19th century, Philosophy of the Unconscious became famous. By 1882, it had appeared in nine editions. A three volume English translation appeared in 1884. The English translation is more than 1100 pages long. The work influenced Sigmund Freud's and Carl Jung's theories of the unconscious.
Andrew S. Bowie is Professor of Philosophy and German at Royal Holloway, University of London and Founding Director of the Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC).