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Enacting Musical Experience

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Abstract:

I argue for an enactive account of musical experience - that is, the experience of listening 'deeply' (i.e., sensitively and understandingly) to a piece of music. The guiding question is: what do we do when we listen 'deeply' to music? I argue that these music listening episodes are, in fact, doings. They are instances of active perceiving, robust sensorimotor engagements with and manipulations of sonic structures within musical pieces. Music is thus experiential art, and in Nietzsche’s words, ' we listen to music with our muscles'. This paper attempts to explicate and defend this claim. First, I discuss enactive approaches to consciousness and cognition generally. Next, I apply an enactive model of perceptual consciousness to the experience of listening to music. To clarify what is at stake, I use Peter Kivy’s 'enhanced formalism' as a philosophical foil. I then look at how the animate body shapes musical experience.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 140-142, 5th Floor, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark., Email: joelk@hum.ku.dk

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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