Listening with Emotion: How Our Emotions Help Us to Understand Music

Jenefer Robinson

in Deeper than Reason

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780199263653
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603211 | DOI:
Listening with Emotion: How Our Emotions Help Us to Understand Music

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Leonard Meyer thinks that when we listen to tonal music, it is entirely appropriate to respond with emotion to the unfolding structure of a piece. Indeed, if we are surprised by the sudden key change, bewildered by the way the music lingers in keys distant from the tonic, and relieved when the tonic finally reappears, we are thereby evincing understanding of the musical development. It is argued that we may well also be able to detect the expressive features of music by having our emotions aroused appropriately. An experiment by psychologist Carol Krumhansl seems to confirm that having one's emotions aroused by music serves to help the listener grasp both the structure and the expressiveness of music. This chapter parallels Chapter 4, which made the case that having one's emotions aroused is often crucial to understanding literature.

Keywords: Leonard Meyer; tonal music; musical development; emotion; Carol Krumhansl; expressiveness; music

Chapter.  12177 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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