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Music, mind and the serious Zappa: the passions of a virtual listener
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Musicology and Performance Studies.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation argues that music is always ideological. For this thesis two lines of argument are given. The first states that music is always ideological because it requires verbal discourses about itself. The second line of argument states that music is always ideological because it influences the listener affectively.

That language is necessary for talk about music is trivial. The point is rather that talk about music is necessary for auditive behaviour to turn into complex cultural artefacts. Without language humans would have no more music than birds, whales or duetting apes.

At the other extreme, musical experiences are affective in nature. To have a musical experience is to experience an affective unfolding through time. Affect (as distinguished from the emotions) refers to the amodal properties of perception-such as intensity, shape, rhythm-and lies at the heart of human communication. With its roots in early mother-infant interaction, affective communication is inherently social. Together with discourses about music, the affective properties of musical experiences makes music into an extremely subtle, and thereby efficient, ideological manipulator in various types of social contexts.

Finally, the theoretical conclusions reached will be exemplified by introducing a virtual listener, the various facets of whose listening experiences are captured by different analytical methods and listening reports as applied to some of the "serious" music by Frank Zappa. Central for the explanation of these listening experiences are the "passions," that is, the affects, moods and emotions that the music evokes in the listener, or that the listener takes the music to express.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm University, 1999. , 246 p.
, Studies in musicology, ISSN 1103-6362 ; 9
Keyword [en]
affect, attunement, categorization, cognition, Daniel Stern, Donald Davidson, Eleanor Rosch, emotions, mood, ideology, imagination, metaphor, sympathy, Zappa
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-65206ISBN: 91-7265-020-6OAI: diva2:461714
Public defence
1999-12-16, 14:00

The attached fulltext is a revised version of the original thesis.

Available from: 2011-12-05 Created: 2011-12-05 Last updated: 2015-11-24Bibliographically approved

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