Emotional Expression in Music

Jenefer Robinson

in Deeper than Reason

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780199263653
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603211 | DOI:
Emotional Expression in Music

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Peter Kivy and Stephen Davies have defended a ‘doggy theory’ of musical expressiveness, according to which we hear music as expressive of sadness, for example, because we ‘animate’ or anthropomorphize the music, just as we animate or anthropomorphize the face of a St. Bernard or basset-hound when we see sadness in it. In neither case is anyone sad nor is anyone expressing any sadness they might actually be feeling. But in Romantic lieder, the protagonist is typically expressing or articulating emotion in just the way explained in Chapter 9: the words articulate the protagonist's thoughts and desires; the music mimics the vocal expressions, action tendencies, even the physiological responses of a person in a particular emotional state. This idea is illustrated by a detailed reading of Brahms's lied opus 105 no. 2, Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer.

Keywords: musical expression; anthropomorphism; romanticism; Brahms

Chapter.  9329 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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