Frank Burch Brown
Music has often been regarded as the most directly emotional of the arts and the art most intimately involved with religious and spiritual life. In the endeavor to understand music's relation to emotion and religion, a variety of approaches and disciplines are relevant. There are, for example, scientific and psychological studies that can yield insight into the character of musical and emotional response, and of music's access to the affective life. Thus, multiple disciplines are pertinent, from musicology (including ethnomusicology) and history to philosophy, psychology, and various branches of religious studies, particularly theology and comparative religions. This essay deals with historical perspectives, major theories, and current issues regarding music, emotion, and religion. It begins by considering classic and exceptionally enduring images and ideas of music, including the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus. It then considers musical ethics and metaphysics in the West from antiquity through the Renaissance. The essay also examines remaining issues and unresolved tensions about music, emotion, and religion.