Music Therapy: A Perspective from the Humanities

By Aigen, Kenneth | Journal of Music Therapy, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Music Therapy: A Perspective from the Humanities

Aigen, Kenneth, Journal of Music Therapy

Ruud, E. (2010). Music therapy: A perspective from the humanities. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona, 209 pages.

For the last 20 years, Barcelona Publishers has quietly gone about providing an invaluable service for music therapy: it has published collections and revisions of works by seminal music therapists such as Helen Bonny, Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins, Mary Priestley, Florence Tyson, and William Sears; it has offered publications by second generation music therapy scholars with multi-disciplinary interests and international influence such as Carolyn Kenny; and it hits provided an opportunity for the publication of original works by a large number of authors, such as Brynjulf Stige and Henk Smeijsters, who have focused on applying ideas from contemporary intellectual movements into the great variety of clinical contexts in which music therapy exists. In short, Barcelona is playing an essential role in ensuring that the profession and discipline of music therapy develops and matures in a way that reflects cognizance of the major trends that have defined contemporary intellectual thinking across a wide array of disciplines. The present text by Even Ruud is the latest offering to reflect this mission.

In 10 relatively concise chapters, Ruud explores a number of topics that have come to define much of contemporary discourse in music therapy, such as musical identity, musical meaning, aesthetics, empowerment, health and quality of life, and self-care. Readers familiar with Ruud's writings and contributions will recognize many of the topics discussed and ideas presented, and Ruud acknowledges borrowing from previous articles and essays in putting together the present publication. These topics (and others) receive an interesting treatment and Ruud presents a number of arguments in support of the values and concepts that he believes ought to be part of music therapy.

Many challenges face a reviewer focusing on a book such as this one. Its wide scope and broad range of intended application demand familiarity with a number of scholarly disciplines and concepts. Additionally, as English has become so ubiquitous in scholarly publishing that many authors are expected to write in what may be their second or even third language, it is only fair for reviewers to take into account differences of language and culture in evaluating books. Additionally, I have a great deal of sympathy with the perspective and values championed in this book, something that provides a challenge in offering a balanced review.

I offer diese caveats because while this book offers some unique contributions-there are a number of concerns with it that relate to its fundamental premises and focus. The first and perhaps most basic issue is die referent of the word humanities in die title. In the first sentence of die foreword, Ruud speculates that "an integrated field of music dierapy would perhaps one day be able to syndiesize perspectives both from the natural sciences, the social sciences, and die humanities.... Witii die humanities I include a broad range of academic disciplines, such as taken from die social sciences as well as from philosophy" (p. ix) . There are two problems here:

First, by using the word both in reference to three separate areas of inquiry, it is clear that Ruud believes there is an important twofold division, but it is not clear how the three areas are to be grouped: does he mean diat natural science and social science taken togetiier contrast with the humanities because of die common reliance on the scientific method diat characterize die former two areas, or does he mean diat die social sciences and die humanities are differentiated from natural science because the former two areas focus upon human beings and their creations rather dian on die physical world?

Second, by indicating that he is considering social science disciplines within the humanities, Ruud is botii going against common practice and is sowing the seeds of deep confusion regarding die agenda of his book. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Music Therapy: A Perspective from the Humanities


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.