Stephen Davies

In Stecker and Gracyk, Aesthetics Today (2010) 

This document is a summary of Davies. 
My personal comments are in red. 

Although he does not mention Hanslick, think of Davies as a response to Hanslick.

Thesis: Music "expresses" emotion by presenting appearances of MOTION that we perceive as matching the appearances of humans who have various emotional states.

We do not have to believe that someone has an emotion in order to see their appearance as expressive. Example: dogs, trees, the front of a car

Although music does not literally express emotion, expressiveness is present.

Music moves through and unfolds in aural space (not literal space) and so it has motion appearances that we directly perceive as expressive.

Objection: There is nothing that persists in time that is actually moving from place to place, so we don't perceive motion.

Reply: As long as we have a temporal process, we can experience motion. The stock market moves up and down, faster and slower. Dynamic processes do not always involve motion of the same thing in space. They can be temporal but not genuinely spatial.

CULTURAL FACTORS make a difference. In Western cultural, most music has teleological movement (i.e., movement towards a goal). This sense of end-directed motion introduces additional dynamics. Other cultures use other musical materials for similar purposes.

Conclusion: The expressiveness of music is as objective as the expressiveness of other non-human appearances.


                        Last updated Jan. 26, 2011 ~ All text 2011 Theodore Gracyk