Musical Emotionality: how music and emotion come together
HONR 3700 – Reading in Slow Motion
Carr, David, “Music, Meaning, and Emotion,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 62, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 225-34. Accessed 27 October, 2015. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.librarylink.uncc.edu/doi/10.1111/j.0021-8529.2004.00155.x/epdf
David Carr’s essay, titled “Music, Meaning, and Emotion,” is published in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. The journal is a reputable source, and Carr is associated with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The article focuses on the idea of emotion as a certain type of meaning. In the introduction, he writes, “emotional properties we are inclined to take this or that piece of music to express are nevertheless properties of the music rather than of our own mental states.” (225) I think that this is key because, in the research I have done, it seems that the general idea is that emotion evokes ideas. Carr is suggesting that the emotions are a fact of the music, and he posits that those emotions are not of our own making. Carr also asks the reader to consider if emotional states arise from intentions. That is, is the act of feeling or experiencing emotions a conscious decision that is made? Is it a knowing, thoughtful reaction to a stimulus? This relates back to the idea of emotions as a choice and the different musical and emotional philosophies as discussed in Andrew Kania’s “The Philosophy of music.” I think that I will find this source useful, as it offers an in depth and exhaustive study of how human beings perceive emotion and music as a couple, not individual ideas. Carr offers a different perspective on the discussion of music and emotion by suggesting that music is, inherently, emotion.
Harré, Rom. “Emotion in Music,” in Emotion and the Arts edited by Mette Hjort and Sue Laver (New York, Oxford University Press, 1997), 110-18
Rom Harré is a faculty member at Georgetown University. His area of research is philosophy. In the book, Emotion and the Arts, a collection of essays are gathered together that relate to the topic of artistic emotions. This source was published nearly twenty years ago, but this could be useful in that it shows a historical approach to psychology. Harré is one of the authors published in the collection, and his essay, “Emotion in Music,” focuses on the idea that emotion does not have to be felt to be acknowledged. Harré begins by explaining the ways in which emotion is discussed and understood in the professional field. He immediately orients towards the idea of a display of emotion, which is any physical or outward sign of what would be universally understood as emotionally volatile, which is the idea upon which he builds his argument. It seems reasonable to draw the conclusion that these types of expressions of emotion could be as simple as tears or laughter, but also the gestures of a composure or the posture of a pianist. He also notes that there is an enormous side of “emotional life” which is not immediately obvious to an observer (112). This point is used to articulate a question of contrast between two theories for musical emotion which are provided in the essay. Harré compares the idea that music is a method for the expression of emotion and that the music is what causes or produces emotion. He also explores the fact, albeit briefly, that the composers are typically separated from their music. The essay ascribes a certain importance to the fact that the performers also have an effect on the perception of the music. The conversation that Harré outlines with regards to the way that music and emotion are linked is very nearly what I would like to investigate myself. This source gives an overview of the arguments and debates while still offering a conclusion of its own on the topic. As the question that I have been developing relates directly to whether or not music evokes an emotion of its own or is a conveyance of emotion, this source illustrates some of the key differences and issues with each of these theories. I can use this to strengthen an argument that music is a source of emotion that is inherently part of the piece.
Kania, Andrew, “The Philosophy of Music”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), edited by Edward N. Zalta. Accessed October 26, 2015. URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/music/>.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a myriad of entries and articles on the different types, branches, and ideologies of philosophy. One such article is titled “The Philosophy of Music,” and was written by Andrew Kania, who is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Trinity University, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in College Park. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a refereed publication, wherein each article is maintained by experts in the field. Thus, it would seem to be a credible source and usable for the purposes of constructing a basic understanding of musical philosophies. The entry suggests that music’s ability to create and express emotions is at the heart of the debate. The entry attempts to define music, as well to outline the assorted questions and controversies in the debates about musical philosophy. Some of these theories include that of musical arousal, which suggests that a listener or audience will experience emotional and psychological arousal while engaging in a performance of piece of music. The theory concludes that this arousal and engagement is what causes emotion. Another example is resemblance theory, which could be especially useful in creating a counterargument to the idea that music carries its own emotions. The theory of resemblance states that associative meanings are given, such as saying, “a piece of music is sad in the same sense in which we say that a weeping willow is sad.” (Kania) This is metaphorical and in many ways projecting human traits on the inhuman, thus giving the music emotions that it does not inherently sustain. The nature of the debates are gone into at great length, stating the sides of the ontological debate about music, is it a mental entity, an abstract object, or something of an entirely novel category? There is also an entire section devoted to emotionality in music. This segment critiques the theories of musical emotion, such as expression and arousal theories as well as associationism. These theories could account for the majority of my exploration of music philosophy, as the debate between them is the source of much of the conversation about musical philosophy and psychology. I will be able to use the source specifically to construct a working definition of music and musical philosophy, and I will be able to begin to create an understanding of what I expect to discover in my examination of the link between music and emotion. The theories here are part of the language that is used in the field of music psychology and music theory. As such, it is important to have an understanding of them to be able to apply these theories in a specific, analytical manner.
Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel. “The emotional power of musical performance.” The Emotional Power of Music: Multidisciplinary perspectives on musical arousal, expression, and social control. Edited by Tom Cochrane (Oxford University Press, 2013), n.p. Oxford Scholarship Online. 2013-09-26. Web. 12 October 201. DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654888.001.0001
This source is one chapter of a book. The book is authored by a diverse group of scholars, of which Daniel Leech-Wilkinson is one. It is a series of essays on varying topics such as musical expressiveness, the elicitation of emotion, and the varied abilities of music in society. Leech-Wilkinson argues that music relies very heavily on the engagement of the performers, and he suggests that the ability of the performer, or performers, to influence the audience’s perception of the performance itself. I think that this idea is particularly poignant as it not only draws the audience into the work, making them part of a living, breathing piece of art, but also exhibits the extent of control which the artists hold over the listeners. Leech-Wilkinson suggests that the power to manipulate emotions through music is, perhaps, the greatest trait a composer or musician can have. For my purposes, this essay serves as a strong point from which to build an investigation into the reliance of music on a group. I can use this article to begin to understand the conversations which surround the role of the composer in music, and the entire book is a conversation about the different facets of emotion found in music. The idea that the audience are active participants in the perception of music seems to be an argument for the fact that music evokes emotion of its own. However, the suggestion is also made that the performers are shaping the emotion of a piece, which would be in support of the counterargument that music is used to convey a third party’s emotion.
Patel, Aniruddh D. “Musical Rhythm, Linguistic Rhythm, and Human Evolution.” Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 24, no. 1 (September 2006): 99-104. JSTOR. Accessed 28 September 2015. http://www.jstor.org.librarylink.uncc.edu/stable/10.1525/mp.2006.24.1.99
Aniruddh Patel is a Ph. D. at the Neurosciences Institute. He is a prolific author, having written a book as well as numerous articles and other contributions to literature. His article, “Musical Rhythm, Linguistic Rhythm, and Human Evolution,” is published in Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal. The journal is peer-reviewed, making it a valid source of good reputation. The article outlines the debate that surrounds the link between human evolution and music: is music naturally selected for? Patel addresses both sides of this argument, and he also creates a discussion about the relationship between human perception and music. Taking the current scholarly discussions in mind, Patel expands on the use of already-published speculation to theorize that a link between musical rhythm and human evolution exists. Patel’s essay focuses on the link between musical rhythm It seems reasonable, as a musician, to assume that the rhythm and meter of a piece contributes to the emotion that is associated with it. I can use this source to defend the position that musicality is inherently part of human nature. From there, I can address the idea that human nature is inextricably tied to the evocation of emotion that music produces. An argument could be made for the link between human predisposition for musical rhythm and the emotional understanding of music. If human nature is connected to musical perception, as Patel argues it is, then it stands to reason that there should be a deeper understanding of music than a passing interest or acknowledgment. The examination of this topic will lend itself to creating a working knowledge of the background of music perception in the current scholarship, as well as provide a starting point for the rest of my paper, which will investigate the ways in which music creates or invites emotion in the listener.