Musical Meaning and Expression

Musical Meaning and Expression

Author: Stephen Davies

Publisher: Cornell University Press

ISBN: 0801481511

Category: Music

Page: 417

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We talk not only of enjoying music, but of understanding it. Music is often taken to have expressive import--and in that sense to have meaning. But what does music mean, and how does it mean? Stephen Davies addresses these questions in this sophisticated and knowledgeable overview of current theories in the philosophy of music. Reviewing and criticizing the aesthetic positions of recent years, he offers a spirited explanation of his own position. Davies considers and rejects in turn the positions that music describes (like language), or depicts (like pictures), or symbolizes (in a distinctive fashion) emotions. Similarly, he resists the idea that music's expressiveness is to be explained solely as the composer's self-expression, or in terms of its power to evoke a response from the audience. Music's ability to describe emotions, he believes, is located within the music itself; it presents the aural appearance of what he calls emotion characteristics. The expressive power of music awakens emotions in the listener, and music is valued for this power although the responses are sometimes ones of sadness. Davies shows that appreciation and understanding may require more than recognition of and reaction to music's expressive character, but need not depend on formal musicological training. -- "The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism"
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What does it mean to be expressive in music performance across diverse historical and cultural domains? What are the means at the disposal of a performer in various time periods and musical practice conventions? What are the conceptualisations of expression and the roles of performers that shape expressive performance? This
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Music's ability to express and arouse emotions is a mystery that has fascinated both experts and laymen at least since ancient Greece. The predecessor to this book 'Music and Emotion' (OUP, 2001) was critically and commercially successful and stimulated much further work in this area. In the years since publication