Thursday, September 29, 2011

Q and A, 3

     In Nick Zangwill's essay, "Music, Metaphor, and Emotion," he claims that music is not inherently emotional.  He claims that the emotion terms we use to describe music are merely metaphors for aesthetic points in the music, and not real emotions found in music.  He outlines this aesthetic metaphor thesis to explain away others' points of view as erroneous.
     In Zangwill's statement Dr. Johnson quoted, "The nature and value of music will elude us so long as we are mired in emotion," Zangwill explains that, although we relate to music in emotion terms, and may be delighted and pleasured greatly by music, music itself does not possess these emotions.  As he says, music can no more be proud or angry, than a rock is proud, or a cloud angry. These emotion terms are reflections, and our way of explaining, the aesthetic properties in the music, according to Zangwill, but not inherent in the music.

Music indeed has rules and guidelines of what makes it sound "good," and we are, indeed, responding to those various musical rules when we find beauty in a piece of music, just as the composer strove to find the beauty in those guidelines while creating the music.  But does that mean that all we are hearing, as listeners, are those aesthetic qualities?  Do we not hear the composer's emotional feeling that he may be trying to convey?  Do we not feel real emotion when we listen?

1 comment:

  1. I meant to add that I think he means to say that the aesthetic value of music is greater than our emotion descriptions can convey.