Music and transcendence

Alf Gabrielsson

in Strong Experiences with Music

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199695225
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729775 | DOI:
Music and transcendence

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In accounts of strong experiences with music, the experience is sometimes described with words such as ‘magical’, ‘mysterious’, ‘supernatural’, or ‘extraterrestrial’. The narrator feels as if he/she is put in a trance or ecstasy, there may be a feeling of totally merging with something bigger and of glimpsing other worlds or existences. These are examples of transcendental experiences (from the Latin transcendere = to exceed, surpass), that is, experiences that go beyond what is considered as ordinary perception and experience. This chapter presents a selection of accounts that can illustrate such transcendental experiences in connection with music. It is, of course, self-evident that these are hard to put into words. Often, such descriptions are restricted to one or several expressions of the type above, perhaps with the addition of an image or a metaphor. One can also count so-called ‘out-of-body experiences’ as transcendental experiences.

Keywords: strong experiences with music; transcendental experience; ecstasy; trance; cosmic experiences; magical experience; supernatural; extraterrestrial; personal accounts

Chapter.  6588 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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