The Philosophy of Music


Music is, of all the arts, the most universally practised, the most complex and elaborate in its technique, the most direct in its emotional appeal and at the same time the least understood. The ordinary person hears music and is moved by it, but has often very little idea of the principles which have guided its composition. The trained musician may have made a thorough study of technical methods in composition, but yet have no knowledge either of the physical basis of music or of the philosophical reasons underlying accepted technical principles. There are various questions which any person interested in music may reasonably ask, but to which no satisfactory answers have as yet been given. What does music mean? What is the composer trying to express? What does music express to the listener? Why is one kind of music considered good and another bad?

The whole science of æsthetics, of which the science of musical æsthetics is only a part, is still in a very controversial condition. It is only within the last two centuries that æsthetics has been recognised as a definite branch of philosophical investigation. The tendency of almost all philosophers has been to regard it as a subordinate matter which had to be fitted, as best it could be, into a preconceived system of metaphysics and ethics. Music took much the same place in æsthetic investigation as æsthetics did in the general philosophical scheme. The philosophers started naturally with poetry, architecture, painting or sculpture, because those arts appeared to bear a more direct relation to practical life. It was a natural temptation to formulate principles which seemed satisfactory as egards the plastic arts or poetry and then to apply these . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1924
  • 6th


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