Musicers, Listeners, and Musical Values
On the surface, music making and music listening are strangely impractical endeavors. There is no obvious biological reason for the existence of musical practices. At the same time, life without musicing and music listening would not be human as we know it. Homo sapiens is the species that "musics." In other words, that MUSIC is significant is not in dispute, only why.
This chapter lays the foundation for an explanation of the values of MUSIC as a diverse human practice. In doing so, it also prepares the way for an explanation of the values and aims of music education.
Three things seem clear at the outset. First, the fact that most (if not all) human societies have shown an interest in some form of musicing and music listening does not establish the presence of a specific human need for which musical practices are a necessary satisfaction. This fact establishes only the likely presence of specific human tendencies. 1 Second, in considering what tendencies might underpin MUSIC, both common sense and logic suggest that we are under no obligation to identify one overriding tendency. There may be several important human tendencies linked to a variety of musical interests. Third, in attempting to explain its significance, we must not lose sight of what is most obvious and curious about MUSIC: that the actions of music making and music listening often give rise to experiences of positive or satisfying affect. Indeed, even a quick glance around the world is enough to show that while some people make music chiefly for money, status, and other tangible rewards, most do not. Most musicers and listeners find the actions of musicing and listening rewarding in themselves.
The sum of these reflections can be stated in the following way. The keys to understanding the human values of MUSIC (including the values of musical works) are most likely to be found in the nature of human consciousness and the human tendencies it spawns. More specifically, to explain the significance of MUSIC it