The Experimental Psychology of Beauty

By C. W. Valentine | Go to book overview

Chapter XI SOME SPECIAL ASPECTS OF AND FACTORS IN LISTENING TO MUSIC
For the present chapter I have selected experiments dealing with certain elements which often enter into the experience of people listening to music, but some at least of which are not necessarily of importance for the enjoyment of whole musical compositions, and certainly not essential. Indeed, sometimes they may actually interfere with the highest aesthetic attitude towards music. Examples of such elements are the tendency to actual movements when listening to music (e.g. beating time with hand or foot), or indulging in visual imagery, both primarily subjective elements. Other elements, more "objective" perhaps, refer directly to aspects or qualities in the music itself, e.g. rhythm or tempo or complications through the addition of words in vocal pieces. It is, however, impossible to divide these two main groupings rigidly into subjective and objective, for they are sometimes inextricably mingled; for example, in the intimate connexion between marked rhythm in the music and the tendency to movement in the listener.As an elementary introduction to some of these aspects, I will begin with some very early experiments of my own, made about 1911.Shortly after completing the experiments with musical intervals I selected a group of students who had already taken part in those experiments. My object was to get some account of the various kinds of experiences different people have in listening to music and incidentally to note if the types of attitudes (character, subjective, etc.) appeared in the appreciation of music. I took two groups of about forty students in all and played the following selections on the piano:
a. Mendelssohn, Songs without Words, 44, Bars 1-13,
b. Portion of Marche Romaine--a type of piece in martial style suitable for very young players,

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