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Music and Consciousness: Philosophical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives [Paperback]

David Clarke , Eric Clarke

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Book Description

25 Sep 2011
What is consciousness? Why and when do we have it? Where does it come from, and how does it relate to the lump of squishy grey matter in our heads, or to our material and social worlds? While neuroscientists, philosophers, psychologists, historians, and cultural theorists offer widely different perspectives on these fundamental questions concerning what it is like to be human, most agree that consciousness represents a 'hard problem'.

The emergence of consciousness studies as a multidisciplinary discourse addressing these issues has often been associated with rapid advances in neuroscience-perhaps giving the impression that the arts and humanities have arrived late at the debating table. The longer historical view suggests otherwise, but it is probably true that music has been under-represented in accounts of consciousness. Music and Consciousness aims to redress the balance: its twenty essays offer a timely and multi-faceted contribution to consciousness studies, critically examining some of the existing debates and raising new questions.

The collection makes it clear that to understand consciousness we need to do much more than just look at brains: studying music demonstrates that consciousness is as much to do with minds, bodies, culture, and history. Incorporating several chapters that move outside Western philosophical traditions, Music and Consciousness corrects any perception that the study of consciousness is a purely occidental preoccupation. And in addition to what it says about consciousness the volume also presents a distinctive and thought-provoking configuration of new writings about music.

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This collection of papers, consisting of twenty well-crafted chapters, offers a variety of approaches to the topics of music and consciousness. In particular, the chapters related to embodied and especially enactive music cognition may trigger the interest of constructivists and lead to further explorations in this steadily growing field of enactive music cognition. (Enactive Cognitive Science)

About the Author

David Clarke is Professor of Music at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He is a music theorist in the broadest sense, interested in analytical, philosophical, and cultural approaches to musical and meaning. These concerns have informed his work on the British composer, Michael Tippett, on whom he is a leading authority and the author of several books and essays. Similar priorities have also shaped his recent research into cultural pluralism and musical postmodernism-which has yielded articles on Eminem, 'Elvis and Darmstadt', and BBC Radio 3's 'Late Junction'. David Clarke is also a practicing musician-a violinist and conductor, and lately a vocalist in the North Indian khyal tradition.

Eric Clarke is Heather Professor of Music at Oxford, and Professorial Fellow of Wadham College. He has published widely on various issues in the psychology of music, musical meaning, and the analysis of pop music, including Empirical Musicology (OUP 2004, co-edited with Nicholas Cook), Ways of Listening (OUP 2005), The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music (CUP 2009, co-edited with Nicholas Cook, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson and John Rink) and Music and Mind in Everyday Life (OUP 2010, co-authored with Nicola Dibben and Stephanie Pitts). He was an Associate Director of the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music, and is an Associate Director of the successor Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (2009-14). He is on a number of editorial boards, and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2010.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Mysteries That Give Life to Life 20 May 2013
By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A conundrum wrapped in an enigma, to paraphrase Mr. Churchill, are the "Hard Problems" of consciousness-mind and the power and inter-relationships of music. This book will not offer any solutions but it will outline how music may be a key in understanding how we are aware that we are aware. It also brings the two problems usefully together. The editors of the collection of academic essays from international scholars and investigators are British musicologists David Clarke (Newcastle) and Eric Clarke (0xford), who each contribute a chapter. As in most scholarly collections, the sections vary widely in style and readability. They are truly at the graduate level, for those who have studied, informally or professional, some aspect of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, or the anthropological side of musicology. I strongly suggest that readers do NOT read the leading chapter at first because it could very well be off-putting, as it is philosophically difficult and dense for the uninitiated. It can be best approached after chapter 2 or later. The topics have an extraordinary range, from Husserl's foundations of music cognition (with the roles of memory and anticipation) to Buddhist abidharma and meditation on sensation, perception, and consciousness, from dhrupad in Hindustanti vocal music to psychedelic experiences as related to music, from the essential connection of movement in music (and in face-to-face communication) to the social unity of music and consciousness. Some cultures do not even have a word for music, as it is a unity with dance and ritual. I personally have been engaged in both problems for decades and must say that this book has brought the matter into fine focus and I gained new insights. This is especially with the concepts of movement in music assimilation, the learned and inherent mimicking memory neurons, and the distinction of the alap of dhrupad versus the alap of more modern instrumental ragas (an aha! reaction after many years of listening to the Dagar Brothers and other Indian musicians). This multi-disciplinary book is an important resource for further study. Every reader will surely relate to some element of the discussion (perhaps from meditation, the use of entheogens, or experiences of deep listening or trance) and then be able to correlate other concepts. Thus, this reading journey may be arduous but rewards are aplenty.
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