- Taschenbuch: 224 Seiten
- Verlag: Harpercollins Publishers; Auflage: New Ed (7. April 1997)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0006861865
- ISBN-13: 978-0006861867
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13 x 1,4 x 19,7 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
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Music and the Mind (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 7. April 1997
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Why does music have such a powerful effect on our minds and bodies? It is the most mysterious and most tangible of all forms of art. Yet, Anthony Storr believes, music today is a deeply significant experience for a greater number of people than ever before. In this book, he explores why this should be so. Drawing on a wide variety of opinions, Storr argues t hat the patterns of music make sense of our inner experience, giving both structure and coherence to our feelings and emotions. It is because music possesses this capacity to restore our sense of personal wholeness in a culture which requires us to separate rational thought from feelings that many people find it so life-enhancing that it justifies existence. The author also wrote "Churchill's Black Dog".
"Writing with grace and clarity...he touches on everything from the evolution of the Western tonal system, to the Freudian theory of music as infantile escapism, to the differing roles o the right and left brain in perceiving music."
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Drawing on his own life long passion for music and synthesizing the theories of Plato, Schopenhauer, Stravinsky, Nietzsche, Bartok, and others, distinguished author and psychologist Anthony Storr illuminates music's deep beauty and timeless truth and why and how music is one of the fundamental activities of mankind. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.
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There are however some minor flaws. The connection between the biological foundations of music and western philosophy is a difficult and dubious one and Storr does not really manage to fuse them in a smooth and comprehensive way. They stand aloof and strange to each other. Another flaw is the fact that the book heavily, though not exclusively, draws on classical western music: an admitedly very peculiar and eurocentric kind of music. This leaves out much of the richness of other kinds of music e.x. jazz, folk music, religious music. It also makes his principal endeauvour, to connect music to the mind/body, more difficult. Classical music after all epitomizes the cerebral, distanced and controlled sort of musical apprehension in contrast to folk and popular music which is more expressive and ecstatic. Had he made the opposite methodological choice, folk before classical, he might have had more succes in making the connection between music to the mind/body.
Still the book is an excellent introduction to the topic.
I bought this book hoping for a scientific discussion of how music influences us, for example things like: the influence of music of different types on animals, the reactions of children to different types of music, what MRI and PET scans tells us about the effect of music on the brain,
differences in music across cultures; stuff like that.
What I got was a text in the worst traditions of Freud and Jung, a rambling collection of fragments and observations from the writings of Western Civ over the last two thousand years and presumed to be true simply because their language is resonant and evocative. This is doubtless of interest to some people, but is of very little interest to me.
To people like myself, interested in what is actually known about music and the mind, rather than interested in simply reading a hundred different ways in which people have essentially said the same thing "Music has a profound and mysterious effect on the mind", this book is a complete waste of time and money. I cannot warn you strongly enough that it will do nothing but disappoint you.
In Ch 2 Storr begins to unpack his central theme - we can all have physical and emotional responses to music and while we may share similar responses, one person may not necessarily respond to a piece of music exactly the same as another or indeed respond to the same piece in the same way at different times in life. Our methods of perception (left/right brain alone) may mean that we take from music something that another does not. He also notes the capacity for some to empathise with a piece music while others focus on its structure and form. Similarly, a capacity to appreciate music doesn't necessarily translate into a talent for performing music. Music he notes, plays a variety of roles in health care and interestingly, the brain can process music or song in differing ways pre and post injury.
Ch 3 is a tough read but he draws forth some important insights. First that music is deeply embedded in culture. The creation of specific works of music draw deeply from that culture and are unique to it. Here he draws attention to the variety of musical scales that exist and which may be unique to a given culture. He suggests that one may learn the music of another culture, just as one can learn their language, but few will be deeply grasp that which is not culturally theirs. In this chapter his also introduces another key thematic, that of the cultural imperialism of the westernised form of music, noting some perceptions of it as though it were the only true musical form.
In Ch 4 he explores the idea that music in itself can express ideas without words. But at the same time poses the idea that what the composer wrote in the music, their ideas and insights may be set in a given time and space, and as such others may never perceive in the music what the composer intended. Again here he brings forth his insight about the cultural centricity or groundedness of compositions and the capacity of the listener of such creations to ever get what the other was on about. One cannot just know a composer because you have studied their music (121). Here and else where (e.g. page 129) Storr brings forth a social constructionist theme, questioning our capacity to grasp a thing in itself as distinct to our interpretation of phenomenon as they seem to us.
In the ensuing chapters he takes up some more psychological themes. In Ch 5 he considers music thru the question as to whether it is an escape from reality. I am no fan of Freud and as such I found parts of this chapter overly analytical - sometimes an ink blot is just an ink blot Sigmund! Music does though, have the capacity to take us to another 'mental space' and give life satisfaction - a thematic that he draws forward now until the end of the book, noting in the end that like Neitzsche music has been 'something for the sake of which it is worthwhile to live on earth' (188). Music can be a source of comfort for those who find themselves alone, but do not wish to be so (111). Music can also be a source of solace in an otherwise alienating world (121).
Ch 7 & 8 get to the heart of the question for me, the place of music in the realisation of the self - the finding and expressing of meaning in life. Here the breadth and deep of discussion, encompassing Jung, Plato and Schopenhauer (among others) is exhilarating. The experience of the aesthetic, the contemplation of beauty, abstraction, knowing ourselves, personal striving and the will to power, the satisfaction of desire and dealing with the internal hunger, the craving that the death of God means for individuals, in this case Jung and Neitzsche, something that many of us can identify with. And what is this striving about but: "becoming what one is (as) a creative act comparable with creating a work of art" (153). But it is not gooey art - it is art that embraces the fullness of life as tragedy wherein "we have moved beyond mere enjoyment of music to a condition in which we are saying yes to life as it actually is: tragic, ecstatic, painful and joyful - following Neitzche, music and art make sense of the world and justifies existence' (158).
I enjoyed this book and it is one that I will read again. I can't recall what I thought I would find in this book but I was surprised and delighted by the breadth and depth of the lenses thru which he considered not just music but life as well. From his early discussions of the role of hearing in the develop of emotion thru to the difficult questions of finding meaning and satisfaction in a "tragic" world, Storr takes one on a journey. And thru his Jungian lens, he suggests that there is a sense of wholeness, of balance to be found on this journey. And when one has music in mind, I think he is saying that it is as much as what we bring to music in our yearnings, expectations, or current realities, at a given time and place in our lives, as it is as about what we take away from it that makes music so very personal. Storr recognises that music can engage us physically, emotionally, economically, environmentally, psychologically, socially, in solitude as well as isolation and spirituality. Music can meet us at the intersection of multiple perspectives and combined life experiences. For sure we can all respond to a given piece of music at some level of shared experience but fundamentally music will speak to us as who each of us is at a given moment in our life journey. Thru these multiple pathways music speaks not just to us and thru us, but also thru the expression of and/or the creation of music we too can have a say, we can express what we need to share with a wider world and we too can be a part of the creation of beauty and of the every day. Certainly life has its discords, but even within the dissonance of life harmony exists and perhaps it is within our hands to resolve the dissonance and either express a chord that resonates within, or to express a sound that for us is our enduring albeit individual statement of meaning, purpose or being.
Storr sees music as subjective, emotional need for communication with other human beings; it structures time and brings order out of chaos, and it has a positive effect upon patients with neurological diseases. Physiologically, the emotional response is centered in the right hemisphere whilst the ability to appreciate structure and make critical judgments is located on the left side of the brain. He is of the opinion that music originates from the human brain rather than from the natural world and its universality depends on the urge to impose order upon our experience. He criticizes the dispute between formalists and expressionists since for him it is obvious that appreciation of both form and emotional significance enter into the experience of every listener and cannot be separated. Contrary to Freud's opinion, Storr holds that music is not an escape from reality but a means to structure our auditory perceptions and can also serve as a precursor to creative discovery.
The last few chapters are dedicated to a philosophical analysis of the views held mainly by Schopenhauer, Jung, Nietszche with respect to music. Storr does not fully accept Schopenhauer's "unus mundus" or Jung's "pleroma," and is more inclined to accept Nietszche's concepts: music reconciles an individual to life and enhances it, it is physically and emotionally based, and it links the two principles of Apollo and Dionysus.
Storr gives a historical, psychological, philosophical, and above all a passionate account of importance of music in the life of an individual. Quoting his own words, music is "something for the sake of which it is worthwhile to live on earth... it is an irreplaceable, transcendental blessing."