Ways of ListeningAn Ecological Approach to the Perception of Musical Meaning

Ways of ListeningAn Ecological Approach to the Perception of Musical Meaning

Eric F. Clarke

Print publication date: 2008

ISBN: 9780195151947

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

Theories of musical meaning and psychological research on music have tended to treat music as a special domain, removed from the practical realities of everyday life. This book takes a different approach, tackling musical meaning from the perspective of perception, and treating meaning in terms of listeners' experiences and responses, rather than in abstractly philosophical terms. Using an eclectic mix of musical examples, it discusses the relationship between music and everyday sounds, music and motion, music and subjectivity, and the experience of music as a virtual environment. It starts from the premise that there is a significant overlap between our auditory experience of music and the primarily practical function of auditory perception in the lives of human beings. Framed by the ideas of ecological theory, the book emphasizes the importance of understanding perception as the relationship between perceivers and their environments, as a reciprocal relationship between perception and action, and in terms of the ways in which sounds specify events. Sitting at the intersection of music psychology, analysis, and critical musicology, the book presents an appraisal of cognitive and ecological accounts of perception as well as detailed analytical discussions of musical examples.