Music Listening in Context
The philosophy propounded in this book has proposed that intelligent music listening consists in deliberate acts of informed thinking in relation to performed or improvised patterns of musical design that, in turn, evince histories and norms of musical practice. In addition, and depending on the musical work and practice involved, intelligent music listening may also involve the cognition of musical expressions of emotion and/or musical representations.
In this chapter I propose that since all forms of musicing are inherently artistic- social-cultural endeavors, and since musical works are social-cultural constructions, and since listeners live in specific times and places, music listening also involves the cognition of cultural-ideological information. Put another way, musical works both constitute and are constituted by culture-specific beliefs and values (tacit and verbal).
The idea that music listening and musical works are inseparable from social realities is not original to this book. Plato's concern for the ethical aspects of musical practices is a strong precedent. In our own time, studies of music from the perspectives of ethnomusicology, anthropology, sociology, feminism, semiotics, and analytic philosophy have brought us to a deeper understanding of the ways in which culture and ideology mediate music making and music listening.
In the aesthetic view, "good" music is that which rises above the nitty-gritty of everyday life; good music transcends its own time and place. All music ought to be listened to aesthetically to ensure that the presented form will be responded to in and of itself and not as any kind of "generalized, communicated information." 1 Reimer articulates the aesthetic doctrine: "[T]he better the work of art, the more it transcends its time of creation and is relevant to human experience in general. . . . The notion that art works should be regarded as "an expression of their time"