Chapter

Feeling the Music

Jenefer Robinson

in Deeper than Reason

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780199263653
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603211 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199263655.003.0013
Feeling the Music

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There is a great deal of evidence that music does arouse the ‘garden-variety’ emotions such as joy and sadness, serenity and nervousness. But because these states lack specific objects, they may turn out to be more like moods than emotions. When music works on our moods, we become sadder, happier, or more calm or nervous. Depending on the contexts we bring to the music, we then interpret these affective states in somewhat different ways. There is no reason to feel sad just because music is playing — I haven't suffered a loss, and nothing bad has occurred — so we label our state in a way that makes sense, given the contexts we bring to the music: I feel ‘nostalgic’ because the music reminds me of my homeland, and you feel ‘melancholy’ because melancholy events are more readily remembered when melancholy music is playing. ‘Labeling’ our emotions is one form that ‘cognitive monitoring’ of our affective appraisals and reactions can take.

Keywords: music; mood; cognitive monitoring

Chapter.  13253 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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