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Author(s) Unknown, , . Yue Ji 樂記—Record of Music: Introduction, Translation, Notes, and Commentary
1995, Asian Music 26(2): 1-96.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: The earliest extant Chinese treatise on music. The Yue Ji presents largely Confucian ideas on the connections between music, self-cultivation, proper governance, and the realization of natural patterns. Human character is described as a musical progression with ties to the transformation of sound into a kind of music that is distinguished by its relationship to virtue. The exact identity of the author(s) is debated, and it is believed to have been compiled from various sources no later than the middle of the Western Han dynasty (206BCE-24CE).

Comment: This text is appropriate for an aesthetics (especially philosophy of music) and/or Chinese philosophy course. It is best accessed by a reader with a basic understanding of early Chinese philosophy (especially Confucianism).

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Goehr, Lydia, , . Political music and the politics of music
1994, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 52 (1):99-112.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: On September 24th, 1947, a composer with “an international reputation” became the first Holly wood artist to be called before the Committee on Un-American Activities [HUAC]. The charge against him was that his music had aided the Communist infiltration of the motion-picture industry.’ A significant part of his defense con sisted in his claim that he was only a musician and thus not responsible for any part of a Com munist conspiracy. What is peculiar is that he almost got away with this unlikely defense, unlikely because he had spent much of his life developing a political music consistent with the ideals of Communism. In the end, the Commit tee caught him out on technical grounds: it found a history of inaccurate statements in his visa applications. The composer was deported. It was the second exile of his life: the first had been from Germany ten years earlier.

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Goehr, Lydia, , . The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music
1992, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: What is the difference between a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the symphony itself? What does it mean for musicians to be faithful to the works they perform? To answer this question, Goehr combines philosophical and historical methods of enquiry. She describes how the concept of a musical work emerged as late as 1800, and how it subsequently defined the norms, expectations, and behavior characteristic of classical musical practice. Out of the historical thesis, Goehr draws philosophical conclusions about the normative functions of concepts and ideals. She also addresses current debates amongst conductors, early-music performers, and avant-gardists.

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Higgins, Kathleen Marie, , . The Music of Our Lives
1991, Temple University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: Kathleen Higgins argues that the arguments that Plato used to defend the ethical value of music are still applicable today. Music encourages ethically valuable attitudes and behavior, provides practice in skills that are valuable in ethical life, and symbolizes ethical ideals

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Hsi K’ang, , . Music Has Neither Grief Nor Joy
1983, In Philosophy and Argumentation in Third-Century China. Princeton: Princeton University Press
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: The controversial essay in which Xi Kang offered a distinct counterargument to the orthodox Confucian view that music contains and transfers emotions between musicians and listeners. Xi Kang crafts a series of arguments against the presence of emotions and images in music and contends that the widespread belief to the contrary leads to the misuse of music for political and moral agendas.

Comment: This text is best used in a course on aesthetics (especially philosophy of music) and/or Chinese philosophy. A basic understanding of Daoism is helpful.

Related reading:

  • Essay on Music. Ruan Ji. In Reed Andrew Criddle’s “Rectifying Lasciviousness through Mystical Learning: An Exposition and Translation of Ruan Ji’s Essay on Music.” Asian Music 38(2), 2007.
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Robinson, Jenefer, , . The expression and arousal of emotion in music
1994, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 52 (1):13-22.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: This essay is about the relation between the expression and the arousal of emotion by music. I am assuming that music frequently expresses emotional qualities and qualities of human personality such as sadness, nobility, aggressiveness, tenderness, and serenity. I am also assuming that music frequently affects us emotionally: it evokes or arouses emotions in us. My question is whether there is any connection between these two facts, whether, in particular, music ever expresses emotion by virtue of arousing emotion. Of course, what it means to say that music expresses emotion is a contentious issue and I shall not be directly addressing it here, although what I say will have implications for any theory of musical expression. Nor will I be examining all the possible contexts in which music can be said to arouse emotion. My focus in this essay will be narrower. The question I shall try to answer is this: Are the grounds on which we attribute the expression of emotion to music ever to be identified with the arousal of that same emotion in listeners?

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