The Psychology of Music: A Survey for Teacher and Musician

By Max Schoen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
THE VARIETIES OF MUSICAL EFFECTS: AFFECTIVE

OF THE POWER OF MUSIC OVER the emotions, to stir, soothe and inspire, the poets have sung for ages, while the literature of essay, drama, and fiction is replete with stories, testimonials, and eulogies of its influence over the passions of man. Thus Pope sings:

By music, minds an equal temper know,
Nor swell too high, nor sink too low;
If in the breast tumultuous joys arise,
Music her soft assuasive voice applies;
Or, when the soul is pressed with cares
Exalts her in enliv'ning airs.

More deliberate and studied comments on the effects of music on human feeling are not wanting. Thus Hanslick (35) although repudiating the connection between music as an art and music as emotion, writes:

Far be it from us to underrate the deep emotions which music awakens from their slumber, or the feelings of joy or sadness which our minds dreamily experience. It is one of the most precious and inestimable secrets of nature, that an art should have the power of evoking feelings entirely free from worldly associations, and kindled, as it were, by the spark divine. It is only the unscientific proceeding of deducing aesthetic principles from such facts against which we protest. Music may, undoubtedly, awaken feelings of great joy or intense sorrow; but might not the same or a still greater effect be produced by the news that we have won the first prize in the lottery, or by the dangerous illness of a friend? So long as we refuse to include lottery tickets among the symphonies, or medical bulletins among the overtures, we must refrain from treating the emotions as an aesthetic monopoly of music in general or a certain piece of music in particular. Everything depends upon the specific "modus operandi" by means of which music evokes such feelings. (35, pp. 26-27)

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