What is Hanslick's position with respect to the presumed emotional content of musical works? What are his (and his follower's) arguments? Free essay! Download now
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What is Hanslick's position with respect to the presumed emotional content of musical works? What are his (and his follower's) arguments?
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| Words: 2700 | Submitted: 16-Jun-2005
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DescriptionThis essays examines Hanslick's (and his followers, such as Peter Kivy) views with regard to the relationship between music and the emotions. Hanslick argues that a piece of music cannot express or arouse particular emotions. He says that the pleasure of music is instead a cognitive one.
...The 19th century was the period of Romanticism, a movement that began to change the way that people thought about music. Certain composers of the time started to look to the expression of human emotion as the true purpose and value of music, challenging classically held views. This resulted in a split amongst the music community, with Wagner leading the charge for the side of Romanticism while Brahms stood for classical ideas. In this respect Hanslick’s essay is reactionary, he is attempting to stem the tide of Romanticism. In particular, he is attempting to show that the prevailing theories of the movement, arousal theory and expression theory, were incorrect. These theories both hold that the true value and purpose of music lies in its relation to the emotions. In this essay I will attempt to show that Hanslick is correct in refuting both of these theories. However, due to Hanslick’s firm stance against Romanticism he neglected to see that music can bear a relation to the emotions without arousal or expression theory being correct. In order to show that this is possible I will discuss the work of Peter Kivy, a thinker heavily influenced by Hanslick who provides a theory that allows that music does have a relation to the emotions while not necessarily refuting any of Hanslick’s ideas.
Arousal theory states that the value of a piece of music is said to lie in its ability to arouse emotion in listeners. A piece of music is said to be expressive of a certain emotion if this emotion is invoked in people who hear the music. The first way that Hanslick attacks this theory is by arguing that it is not possible to have an emotion without an ‘intentional object’. By this he means that in order to have an emotion we require a concept, something which the emotion is about. For example if a particular piece of music is described as ‘angry’, is it possible for the piece to arouse that emotion in a listener?. In order to feel an emotion such as anger we require a person (or object) to be angry towards. We also need to have some reason to feel anger towards this person, which would probably be the fact that they have in some way treated us unjustly. ...
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