Thinking about Music: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Music

Thinking about Music: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Music

Thinking about Music: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Music

Thinking about Music: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Music

Excerpt

It is always a good idea to be clear about just what it is that one is discussing, but in philosophy it is imperative. The first three chapters of this book are designed to set out the frame of reference for an inquiry: the first task is to present my understanding of what is included in the domains of music, philosophy, art, and aesthetics; the present chapter concludes with a set of basic propositions--themes that will be frequently sounded in the course of this book. Chapter two is a wide-ranging exploration of the types of questions the philosopher might ask with respect to music. Chapter three seeks to define music's place among the arts. After these rather lengthy but necessary preliminaries, the book proceeds to examine the history of ideas about music.

I propose to avoid for now the dangerous task of defining music. This may cause problems, but a definition (as the term implies) has a way of setting boundaries around a target word, and it seems desirable to allow my subject as wide a domain as possible. It will become clear that music, as commonly used, may refer to sounds, a piece of paper, an abstract formal concept, a collective behavior of society, or a single coordinated pattern of neurochemical impulses in the brain. It can be a product or a process. A definition that might satisfy most members of Western society may fail instantly when applied to non-Western musics or music written within the last twenty years. For now let music signify anything that is normally called music.

The literal definition of the word philosophy is familiar: from the . . .

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