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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New ears for old music
Having read other Scruton titles I was initially rather discouraged when I realised that this was going to be a much tougher job of work than I had been looking for. I was hoping for a gentle introduction to aesthetics, a general survey or bluffer's guide, but instead I found it to be an earnest work of philosophy, including carefully developed arguments and theories of...
Published on 18 Mar 2010 by John Ferngrove

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5 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Astonished at how poor this book is
I have grave reservations about this book, because it often fails to examine its own premises. Fundamental definitions are lacking.

The concluding chapter on "culture" makes swipes at popular music and modern Western popular culture, going well beyond what I would expect in an academic publication. Assertions such as "Democratic man is essentially...
Published on 3 May 2011 by S. Chadwick


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New ears for old music, 18 Mar 2010
By 
John Ferngrove (Hants UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aesthetics of Music (Paperback)
Having read other Scruton titles I was initially rather discouraged when I realised that this was going to be a much tougher job of work than I had been looking for. I was hoping for a gentle introduction to aesthetics, a general survey or bluffer's guide, but instead I found it to be an earnest work of philosophy, including carefully developed arguments and theories of his own, in a field that would seem to have few, if any final answers. What I had also not anticipated was that Scruton's musical erudition would be on a par with his philosophical acuity, as the numerous examples and the penetrating analyses that accompany them, which he uses to illustrate his arguments attest. To be honest, I think I understood about 60% of the book, but have had my ears opened to new levels of musical understanding that have made the struggle eminently worthwhile. I have every intention of reading this book again one day, but want first to brush up on a bit more harmonic theory before I do, in order to get even more out of it the next time around. Mercifully, each chapter tends to examine a different aspect of the musical puzzle, so even when one chapter left me puzzled or confused, I could retain some hope of maybe better understanding the next. In fact, this is a rare example of a book that gets (a little bit) easier as it progresses.

Aside from pointing the way to a level of aesthetic apprehension I had not even glimpsed before, there are several aspects of music which Scruton has caused me to reconsider, there being two broad areas I can articulate with relative ease. Firstly, at the basic metaphysical level, my respect for the ineffability of our experience of music has been refreshed. That our cognitive faculties endow us with the capacity to find such depths of meaning and communicative intent in patterns of sound turns out to be one of those human intangibles that, like language or consciousness, becomes more mysterious the more closely we examine it.

Secondly, in more 'practical' aesthetic terms, I have been obliged to radically reappraise my concepts regarding tonality and atonality. I have a renewed understanding of what they are, what they each bring to the table, and what is lacking in the latter that must be made up for in 'less musical' ways, like extreme dynamics or timbre, if it is to be able to project form and structure. I had always held what I see now as a naive view, that tonality was there to be transcended. That one could train oneself through `sufficient' listening to 'comprehend' ever more extreme departures from the world of tonality. I'm still considering Scruton's arguments, but their implication is that atonality can only ever really be a style or fashion, and that where it works best, or even at all, it has to rely on ways of hearing that were initially acquired by our common experiences of tonality. This has had a direct impact on my listening in that I have a new respect and admiration for composers of the late romantic era, particularly Brahms and Tchaikovsky, that I have always ignored until now, in favour of more modernistic composers. It has also helped me to put my finger on the growing suspicion that, while I have always had a bit more of a taste for dissonance than is typical, I only really enjoy dissonance when it is rooted, even if to a minimal degree, in some kind of tonality. I have accepted at last that pure atonality does nothing for me. It turns out I'm not quite as modern as I thought, but then I'm OK with that.

This is a demanding but profoundly rewarding book if you have the musical background required to engage with it.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to play with., 22 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Aesthetics of Music (Paperback)
This is one of those books - like Leonard Bernstein's The Unanswered Question - that's so generous with musical examples that you read and play your piano through it at the same time. I had a blast. Scruton's such a good writer, and his clear presentation of the elements of music is so accessible, that one simply learns a huge amount from time spent with this book. His enthusiasm for composers like Janacek and Grainger makes you want to run out and listen to their work. Indeed the effect of the whole book is to heighten your excitement about music, and to refine your sense of what makes some music exceptional.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Aesthtics of Music - Roger Scruton, 26 Mar 2009
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This review is from: The Aesthetics of Music (Paperback)
Hard to get hold of this book in many retail outlets. Subject matter heavy going (but I expected this). Only for those seriously interested in music and/or for those with a philosophical turn of mind. Superbly written.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Philosophical Aesthetics of the Classics., 22 Sep 2006
By 
Prof Harvey Crichton (Gloucester, Oxford, London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aesthetics of Music (Paperback)
Roger Scruton is obviouslya philsopher in how he writes and clearly argues and catergaries and structures us through each chapter whether it is tonality or other fundamentals of what music is with great examples from all the great composers he also has a real passion for music. The last chapter itself on the Culture and Sociology of Muisc was alsi written with great insight. This is abook that would suit philosophers who like classical music or music students who need to get a bit more philosophical about music itself. I real delight, very well written, erudite and also I would have to agreee with other reviewers very clearly written as you would expect from a philosopher and someone who knows their music. I researched along while to see which one book I would buy on the subject and a few other choices on this is stiill the best overall book on the subject. I not only learnt alot from this book I also really enjoyed reading it as well. I`d be surprised if this doesn`t get 5 stars all round. It does exactly what the title says. if gives you a tour through the Aesthetics of Music. A Psychologist would gleam stuff from the studies and theories mentioned, a musician able to read the the examples of music given and a philsopher aware of the metof he uses but there is not enough of this to put anyone off. You can enjoy this book if you cannot read a note or have no real interest in the psychology or have no understanding of philosophy. Hence why it is so well written. I real tour de force through classical music using Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and everyone as and when necessary and touching briefly on the 20th C scene in music. Highly recommended work.
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6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books ever written on Music, 16 Oct 1998
By A Customer
No one seriously interested in Music will regret reading this. Why does music move us? Scruton helps us to an even stronger appreciation and enjoyment of Music. (Also look out for his new book on Foxhunting.)
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5 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Astonished at how poor this book is, 3 May 2011
By 
S. Chadwick (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aesthetics of Music (Paperback)
I have grave reservations about this book, because it often fails to examine its own premises. Fundamental definitions are lacking.

The concluding chapter on "culture" makes swipes at popular music and modern Western popular culture, going well beyond what I would expect in an academic publication. Assertions such as "Democratic man is essentially 'cultureless', without the aspirations that require him to exalt his image in literature and art", give pause for thought. Scruton tells us that the decline in religion explains why popular music has gone beyond decadence into "idolatry". Music, apparently, is a character forming force, and the decline in musical taste that "we" are suffering, is a decline in morals.

This book seems to revel in its ignorance of music outside of the cosy world of Western classical music as experienced in England. I can see how the book would appeal to philosophers sharing the author's politics, with little knowledge of music. I also see how this book could appeal to those working narrowly within the Western Classical music tradition, with no interest in or knowledge of the music of the rest of the world.
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The Aesthetics of Music
The Aesthetics of Music by Roger Scruton (Paperback - 3 Jun 1999)
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