The Psychology of Music: A Survey for Teacher and Musician

By Max Schoen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
THE TYPES OF MUSICAL EXPERIENCE

THAT INDIVIDUALS DIFFER TO A significant degree in what music means to them and in what they get out of it, is apparent to even the most casual observer. Even among the best and most cultivated minds in matters of art and literature wide variations are found, as from Dr. Johnson who found music to be "the costliest of rackets" to Carlyle to whom it was a kind of "inarticulate, unfathomable speech which leads us to the edge of the infinite, and lets us for a moment gaze into that." In psychological literature several attempts have been made to introduce some order into this chaos by discovering underlying similarities in the apparent diversities which might be used as a basis for classifying listeners into a number of characteristic types.

The sources from which evidences for the existence of varieties of musical experiences can be drawn are threefold, namely, empirical or experiential, theoretical or speculative, and experimental or scientific. By empirical is meant casual accounts of responses to music to be found in various literary sources; by theoretical evidences is meant more or less studied enumerations of types of reactions to music, the basis for these types being the opinion of the particular writer; experimental evidences consist of scientifically planned laboratory procedures in the attempt to discover individual differences to various types of stimuli.


EVIDENCES FROM EMPIRICAL LITERATURE

In "A Chapter on Ears" in his Essays of Elia, the genial Charles Lamb gives the following account of his musical experiences:

I even think that, sentimentally, I am disposed to harmony. But organically I am incapable of a tune. I have been practicing "God

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