Two Kinds of “Bad” Musical Performance: Musical and Moral Mistakes

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (forthcoming)
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There are many ways in which a musical performance can be “bad,” but here the focus is on two: those performances that make you laugh, and those that make you angry. These forms of musical badness, however, are not primarily compositional deficits, but either that the performer simply cannot competently deliver the music to their audience, inducing laughter, or that the performer exhibits some form of disrespect, provoking anger. Such laughter or anger stems from failure of the expected relationship between a performer and their audience, that is, a social failure. After surveying a range of musical faults, the article examines the causes of laughter in general and in relation to some of examples of risible “bad” music. Similarly, the causes of social and moral anger in general are examined, and several cases of anger-inducing musical performances are presented. The article concludes with a consideration of the broader implications of these responses to “bad” music for theories of emotional expression in music, the relationship between aesthetic and moral judgments, and the centrality of musical performances as opposed to works in discussions of musical expression and value.



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Logic and Conversation.H. Paul Grice - 1975 - In Maite Ezcurdia & Robert J. Stainton (eds.), The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy. Broadview Press. pp. 47.
Logic and Conversation.H. Paul Grice - 1989 - In Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press. pp. 22-40.

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