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Examines the nature of music and traces the history of music philosophy from ancient Greece to the twentieth century. Lewis Rowell's Thinking About Music is more than an introduction to the connections between music and other arts, and the philosophical underpinnings of aesthetics. Examines the nature of music and traces the history of music philosophy from ancient Greece to the twentieth century. Lewis Rowell's Thinking About Music is more than an introduction to the connections between music and other arts, and the philosophical underpinnings of aesthetics.


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Examines the nature of music and traces the history of music philosophy from ancient Greece to the twentieth century. Lewis Rowell's Thinking About Music is more than an introduction to the connections between music and other arts, and the philosophical underpinnings of aesthetics. Examines the nature of music and traces the history of music philosophy from ancient Greece to the twentieth century. Lewis Rowell's Thinking About Music is more than an introduction to the connections between music and other arts, and the philosophical underpinnings of aesthetics.

39 review for Thinking About Music: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    Understand that this is a textbook. It is written as a textbook. And thus is rather tedious, a bit dull. The initial title, Thinking About Music, is accurate enough, but the subtitle is half misleading, i.e., it is an Introduction but it’s not quite all together enough to be in regard to philosophizing about music. Although it does concern itself with what is necessary for a preparatory course into the philosophizing about music. And by philosophizing I certainly mean something different than ‘m Understand that this is a textbook. It is written as a textbook. And thus is rather tedious, a bit dull. The initial title, Thinking About Music, is accurate enough, but the subtitle is half misleading, i.e., it is an Introduction but it’s not quite all together enough to be in regard to philosophizing about music. Although it does concern itself with what is necessary for a preparatory course into the philosophizing about music. And by philosophizing I certainly mean something different than ‘musing’. If you stay at the level of this introductory textbook, then indeed, you will be ‘musing’ about music. But it’s a textbook, so you’ll want to have a lecturer/seminar-leader enliving its rather dead pages. What’s dead about it is really what is most unfortunate about it, and is in fact the design of it. Rowell wants a) to remain neutral, sweeping his own ‘opinions’ to the side so that he can present something pretty much without his own input and auseinandersetzungen with the matter of the stuff ; and b) to do little but present the various sets of questions in regard to which musicology and the philosophy of music revolve. The problem with his presentation of ‘b)’, regardless of his being correct about the importance of getting at the questions in relation to the lesser importance of gaining ‘answers’, is that by absolving himself of actually engaging with the questions in a polemical kind of manner he fails to demonstrate why the questions are important, demonstrate what exactly is at stake. And he can spin out as many important questions as he likes, but as long as he doesn’t show how and why they are important by putting his own positions on the line and into the text.... this student mostly yawned his way through. Essentially, an exercise in why an ‘objective’ and ‘disinterested’ presentation of fundamentally oriented questions and matters falls so far from the mark. One should note that this was published in 1983 so there was no need to awkwardly dismiss well intentioned requests to say something about popular music and treat the Beatles on par with Beethoven. In other words, go ahead with it if you have never once engaged in questions of aesthetics and still have nothing more to say than ‘it’s all subjective’. You will, however, need to have already engaged with the history of (western, yes) musics. Included is also a comparative chapter treating the musics of India and Japan. At its length it is guaranteed to disappoint. However, Rowell does have a second book which may serve some interest :: Music and Musical Thought in Early India. But so if you are most interested in philosophical questions and somewhat less in the musicological orientation towards the topic, my standard recommendation is what counts as really about the only book length treatment of the matter, that by Scruton, his The Aesthetics of Music. His bibliography will take one further. I’ll remark here too. One gets a hint of it in things like philosophy of science, but it is thoroughly demonstrated here in this volume claiming to be in regard to the philosophy of music. That is, our author is a music guy, not a philosophy guy. And he is of course thoroughly competent to speak to questions of music. But his grasp of a philosophical orientation and methodology is severely limited and thus he resolves to speaking of music not philosophically but musicologically, ie, from out of the framework of music, not philosophy. Pretty much the same happens when scientists start claiming to be doing philosophy of science; ie, they write as scientists wrestling with scientifically relevant questions, but all too frequently having insufficient grasp of the specifically philosophical orientation towards the specifically philosophical interests. Okay enough. But one more thing. Rowell stands by his non-definition of ‘music’ -- “For now let music signify anything that is normally called music.” Which at first, at the beginning of his study, is quite fine. Dictionaries define words, not philosophers. And had he begun with one of those old reductionist nuggets -- “music is organized sound” -- you see how the entire realm of musical experience would have been destined for the dustbin, probably replete with measurements of sound-carrying waves!! But had he, for instance, provided something of the concept which results from his study, for instance, Scuton’s “[music is] the intentional object of an imaginative perception”, we would have something to work with. I.e., his definition would have allowed the phenomena of music to show themselves from themselves as they are in themselves. I guess too he could have passed around a survey asking, “What, to you, is music?” but then we would have been wholly and entirely outside the realm of philosophy ; unless the results be taken up in an aristotelian dialectic and had that survey also surveyed the views of Those Who Know. At any rate, there are many rich avenues of philosophical investigation which Rowell could have pursued, but didn’t. Conclusion -- whether you’re interested in music or in philosophy, you’ll do better to read something else.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Francisco Paniagua

    Un libro interesante y autocontenido que sufrió la mala suerte de ser editado (en español) sin cuidado. El texto aborda la problemática filosófica (ontológica, epistemológica y aun metafísicamente) de la música, desde las perspectivas del compositor, el intérprete y el oyente; así como el desarrollo histórico de la estética occidental desde la Edad Media a los 1950. Este afán de completitud es uno de los inconvenientes del texto, ya que una lectura lineal no solo es difícil, sino francamente no Un libro interesante y autocontenido que sufrió la mala suerte de ser editado (en español) sin cuidado. El texto aborda la problemática filosófica (ontológica, epistemológica y aun metafísicamente) de la música, desde las perspectivas del compositor, el intérprete y el oyente; así como el desarrollo histórico de la estética occidental desde la Edad Media a los 1950. Este afán de completitud es uno de los inconvenientes del texto, ya que una lectura lineal no solo es difícil, sino francamente no recomendable, ya que la escritura es monótona a ratos y los capítulos presentan superposiciones de contenido entre sí. Sin embargo, el libro carece de una buena introducción que delinee las lecturas posibles. Sin embargo, el texto ofrece un sinfín de preguntas que podrían inscribirse en un programa de investigación filosófica de largo alcance; así como un comparativo entre la estética de la música occidental y aquéllas de Japón e India, que no es fácil encontrar en otros textos.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trent

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vic

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    Paul

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    Alex Mader

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    Basilisco Escarlata

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    Warren Senders

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dana Hammer

  11. 5 out of 5

    Janet Shelley

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    Casey Robertson

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    j.

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    Fiorella Pesce

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    Pequeniosaltamontes

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    Jennifer Stuart

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    Ingrid

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    Marty

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    Kar Vega

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    Warren Senders

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    Chris Passafume

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    Stephen Williamson

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    Taman_shud

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    Stephen

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    Daniel

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    Basheir Hashim

  39. 4 out of 5

    Hope Morgan

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