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Durham e-Theses
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The Illusory Basis of Musical Experience: A Psychological Conception of the Musically Aesthetic.

HINDS, PATRICK,ANDREW (2018) The Illusory Basis of Musical Experience: A Psychological Conception of the Musically Aesthetic. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Is the musically aesthetic an objective property, or an effect that emerges from, and is dependent on, our perceptual apparatus? Certain things clearly do not depend on perception: concrete physical objects like the screen in front of me continue to exist whether they are perceived or not. However, other things I perceive do not persist beyond their perception, most obviously perceptual illusions such as the Waterfall or Muller-Lyer illusions, or the illusion that is created when I stare at an object and press the side of my eye. This thesis offers a novel cross-disciplinary approach to musically aesthetic experience, where the musically aesthetic is presented as an effect of perception similar to such illusions; this is in opposition to the prevailing view in musicology and aesthetics that the musically aesthetic is a feature of objects that listeners become acquainted with.

The perception-dependent view is characterised as what I call the phenomenal conception. This is contrasted with the abstract conception, where the musically aesthetic is taken to be independent of perception. Scruton’s arguments on the separation of tone from sound are used to characterise the latter, abstract view as involving acquaintance with a conceptual order that is independent of any particular instance of perception. The contrasting phenomenal view is initially argued for in the case of musical movement specifically: by demonstrating that such movement can be understood as psycho-acoustic using several models from music psychology, and elucidating musical movement as nonconceptual by showing that our beliefs about how music moves conflicts with our experience. The thesis’ purview is widened to the musically aesthetic generally and various issues relating to the distinction between phenomenal and abstract views are discussed, including: internalism and externalism about aesthetic experience, concessions a phenomenal view makes to certain putatively formalist notions and the explanatory problems that manifest when approaching musically aesthetic value.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Musically aesthetic, experience, movement, illusion, perception, nonconceptual, formalism, aesthetic value, metaphor, embodied cognition, cross-disciplinary, musicology, psychology of music, music analysis, popular music.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Nov 2018 10:13

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