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Music … Dr Marilyn Allen PhD

Experience joy in every note that you hear. Music is the heart beat of the soul. Music is perhaps the art that presents the most philosophical puzzles.  Its works often have multiple instances, none of which can be identified with the work itself, the instances of a work are performances, which offer interpretations of the work, yet the work can also be interpreted  independently of any performance. Some may find music an art steeped with meaning, and yet, unlike drama, pure instrumental music has no obvious semantic content. This quickly raises the question of why we should find music so valuable.  Music has the  ability to express emotions while remaining an abstract art in some sense.

We hear individual notes that make up distinct melodies, harmonies, rhythms, sections, and so on, and the interaction between these elements. Such musical understanding comes in degrees along a number of dimensions. Your understanding of a given piece or style may vary from individual to individual, while the reverse is true for another piece or style. One could have a different phenomenological experience of a particular piece than another does, but our understanding of it may be inaccurate especially, if we prefer different genre of music. What we do know, is that music has the ability to evoke emotions, both negative and positive depending on your state of mind. Where words fail, music speaks!


  1. Gracyk, Theodore, 1996, Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  2. Gracyk, T., & A. Kania 2011, “Definition”, in Gracyk & Kania “All Play and No Work: An Ontology of Jazz”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 69(4): 2011: 1–13.

  3. Kivy, P., 2006, “Critical Study: Deeper Than Emotion”, British Journal of Aesthetics, 46(3): 287–311. doi:10.1093/aesthj/ayl007

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