Musical Understanding: Theory of Musical Description or Theory of Musical Perception?

Dissertation, University of Hawai'i (1996)
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The prevalent view today concerning musical understanding is that a necessary condition of musical understanding is the verbal ability to describe music. In the first two chapters I critically examine two kinds of theory of musical description: in chapter one, I consider the positions of Peter Kivy and Roger Scruton, which represent the view that verbal descriptions are essential to musical understanding; in chapter two, I consider the positions of Peter Kivy, Jenifer Robinson, Harold Fiske, and Nelson Goodman, which represent the view that music can be described nonverbally. ;As a result of the shortcomings of the description theory of musical understanding, in chapter three I defend the alternative view that the basis of musical understanding is a form of musical perception involving musical pattern recognition. I take the position that a perceptual model of musical understanding is better than a description model of musical understanding. ;In the final chapter I consider the concept of musical perceptual-understanding in relation to concepts in musical aesthetics: musical evaluation, musical communication, musical appreciation, and musical enjoyment. The results of the third and last chapters stem from adopting a strategy consisting of the development of various analogies between the experience of language and the experience of music



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