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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores relationships between music and meaning, and between music and ideas of meaning. It reviews conceptualizations of meaning in general before surveying the ways in which meaning has been attributed to music in the course of Western intellectual history, providing a framework within which the privileging of the notion of the aesthetic in philosophical treatments of musical meaning over the last two centuries can be understood. It reviews other ways of conceiving music as having meaning—largely derived from music’s embedding in social and cultural context—before summarizing issues and problems in the empirical exploration of meaning in music. The chapter concludes by suggesting some possible future and alternative directions for the study of music and meaning from psychological perspectives.

Keywords: music, meaning, empirical exploration, aesthetics, philosophical, cultural context

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