Chapter

The Acquisition of Musical Performance Expertise: Deconstructing the ‘Talent’ Account of Individual Differences in Musical Expressivity

John Sloboda

in Exploring the Musical Mind

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780198530121
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191689741 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198530121.003.0016
The Acquisition of Musical Performance Expertise: Deconstructing the ‘Talent’ Account of Individual Differences in Musical Expressivity

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An apparently almost irresistible popular line of explanation for this general lack of musical accomplishment in the population is the invocation of the presence or absence of ‘musical talent’. John Sloboda, Jane Davidson, and Michael Howe proposed the existence of a folk psychology of talent, which postulates substantial innately determined differences between individuals in their capacity for musical accomplishment. One major purpose of this chapter is to marshal evidence and arguments for an alternative view to the prevalent folk psychology. This alternative view holds the capacity for musical accomplishment of one sort or another to be a species-defining characteristic. The chapter addresses the distinction between technical and expressive aspects of musical performance. Those who are prepared to concede that talent might not be the best explanation of technical development are much more reluctant to concede on the issue of expressivity.

Keywords: musical accomplishment; musical talent; John Sloboda; Jane Davidson; Michael Howe; folk psychology; musical performance; technical development; expressivity

Chapter.  8967 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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