Artistic Expression and the Hard Case of Pure Music

Stephen Davies

in Musical Understandings and Other Essays on the Philosophy of Music

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608775
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729669 | DOI:
Artistic Expression and the Hard Case of Pure Music

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The expressiveness of instrumental music rests on a resemblance between music and human expressions of emotion. The resemblance is not with vocalizations, facial expressions, or phenomenological profiles but with bodily comportments expressive of emotion. We experience music as moving, say, like happy or sad people. This attribution involves a secondary but literal use of emotion terms. A rival view holds that music expresses the emotion most aptly attributed to a persona hypothesized as represented by it. Against this, I argue that what can be aptly imagined is too unconstrained and vague to account for agreement about music's general expressive character.

Keywords: music; expressiveness; vocalizations; facial expressions; phenomenological profiles; emotion terms

Chapter.  7099 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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