Issue 40/2012

Music – Work of Art, Intention, Event?

  1. Ross P. Cameron: There are No Things That are Musical Works
  2. Jakub Chachulski: Between the Score and the Rendition. On Difficulties With Identity of Musical Work of Art Once Again
  3. Marta Rendecka: Boris Asafiev’s Concept of Musical Form – Between Marxist Aesthetics and Hegel’s Philosophy of Music

On the Perception of Musical Work of Art

  1. Justyna Humięcka-Jakubowska: Implementation of Creative Strategies and Perceptive Listener’s Expectation
  2. Piotr Podlipniak: The Specificity of Tonal Music Experience in the Light of the Contemporary Understanding of Music Adaptability
  3. Krzysztof Lipka: Intentional Object in the Context of the Creative Process
  4. Ewa Schreiber: Music and the Experience of Space and Movement. Between Conceptual Metaphor and Perception
  5. Marcin Napiórkowski: Difficulty of Classical Music as a Contemporary Trial of Initiation
  6. Anna Chęćka-Gotkowicz: In Pursuit of Speech, Music and Body adventures: Sensual Discourse of Pascal Quignard
  7. Rafał Ilnicki: “Maldoror’s Mechanical Singing” – On the Experience of Industrial Music


  1. Michał Νakοneczny: Stephen Davies, Themes in the Philosophy of Music
  2. Anna Chęćka-Gotkowicz: Between Euphony and Disgust Or the Modern History of Ear

Notes on Contributors

There are No Things That are Musical Works

Ross P. Cameron

Works of music do not appear to be concrete objects; but they do appear to be created by composers, and abstract objects do not seem to be the kind of things that can be created. In this paper I aim to develop an ontological position that lets us salvage the creativity intuition without either adopting an ontology of created abstracta or identifying musical works with concreta. I will argue that there are no musical works in our ontology, but nevertheless the English sentences we want to hold true are literally true. I rely on a meta‑ontological view whereby ‘a exists’ can be true without committing us to an entity that is a. This meta‑ontological view is illustrated by its application to the familiar example of the statue and the clay. I argue that my account of musical ontology fares better on the balance of costs and benefits than its rivals.

Between the Score and the Rendition. On Difficulties With Identity of Musical Work of Art Once Again

Jakub Chachulski

According to the common knowledge, specifically musical work of art – as a poem for the poetry or a canvas for the painting – is created and notated by a composer. From this viewpoint the performance has much lower significance, it is a dependent, secondary phenomenon, reproducing of composer’s concept. This standpoint is strongly supported by musicological researching practice, focusing on musical composition and disregarding performance issues, and has received its complete philosophical background in Roman Ingarden’s thought. It has also important implications for describing the performance practice, appreciating capturing artistic means applied by performer in relation to work’s features notated in the score.

This distinction between composer’s and performer’s contribution, however, is not necessarily present in perception of music, and if even, it is rather historically or culturally determined factor or a result of deliberately taken analytic attitude. Especially, it remains outside the aesthetical perception which captures the sounding music as an artwork. In such a perception the music appears as the integral whole, with no mark of any split into “work” and “performance”. From this viewpoint, recognizing the performance as “reproducing of the work” is no more justified than considering the composition as a “raw material” in the relation to the final aesthetic result.

The article discusses the relation of the both standpoints on the ground of aesthetical perception of music, considering also historical determinations (especially the development of the “musical work” concept) and demonstrates superiority of the latter as a theoretical background for description and valuation of the musical performance. It also shows the aporetical character of the issue – mutual irreducibility of the both standpoints and their foundations on different kind of argumentation: description of specific features of XIX‑XX century European musical culture for the first, and analysis of pure experience of music for the second view.

Boris Asafiev’s Concept of Musical Form – Between Marxist Aesthetics and Hegel’s Philosophy of Music

Marta Rendecka

In his main work – Musical Form as a Process – Asafiev discusses all aspects of musical form: its conditions of existence, its internal structure, its ways of functioning, the conditions for its perception, etc. Influenced by Hegel and Marx, Asafiev studies the dialectical nature of musical form (the coexistence of and the interaction between contrasting elements) and musical process. Asafiev finds the origins of these dialectics in two phenomena: motion and harmony. In his analysis of the first phenomenon, Asafiev introduces the idea of “the state of unsteady balance” to describe musical motion. It appears to be a set of contrasting forces. It is in fact a dialectical process. Every musical construct is built according to certain rhythm, determined by changes of contrasting phenomena. The dialectical nature of the forming process is revealed also by harmony and its influence on the listener. When music starts to play, our hearing is engaged to perceive relations between sounds from the very first sound. Later in the process of perception, the listener grasps the sequence of sound complexes, where one complex is “incorporated” into another (synthesis). Although Asafiev’s concept of music‑forming process may resemble the Marx’s “negation of the negation”, it seems adequate to trace it back to Hegel and his ideas contained in Aesthetics.

Implementation of Creative Strategies and Perceptive Listener’s Expectation

Justyna Humięcka-Jakubowska

Conscious listening to music requires its perception, which in psychology is characterised as a certain set of psychic processes, that lead to the recognition, organize, synthesize and impart meanings of an auditively perceptible sound shapes. They result from the composer’s auditory representations, which in turn reflect his thoughts about the musical work and influence the shape of the perceptual representations arising in the mind of the listener. There is a direct correlation between the physical musical material – in nature – and psychic processes induced at the time of the creation of music by composer and present also in the listener. Composers of Darmstadt School often took the attitude of scientists. The understanding of music as a pure flow, the researching of connection between frequency and duration of sound, the expanding one moment, the creation a continuum built on endless micro‑transformations, these are characteristics of their wide range of different creative strategies. This favours the creation of complex auditory images. Aesthetic perception takes place in direct contact with the music and it relies on “the way of reading”, “the peculiar understanding” of the musical work. In the case of music created in Darmstadt School, “the way of reading” is hampered by the variability of auditory images and the consequently hindered categorisation and schematisation, which constitute a problem for the listener per se, but they do not effect negatively on the forming of the mental representation of a given work in the composer’s mind. If the composer’s mental representations of the configuration of the auditory ideas and the listeners’ mental representations of the configuration of the sound images are largely similar, then we can speak of a similarities in “the peculiar understanding” of the musical work. One can be linked the different creative strategies and the certain types of listener’s expectation, arising at the time of music listening to.

The Specificity of Tonal Music Experience in the Light of the Contemporary Understanding of Music Adaptability

Piotr Podlipniak

A traditional understanding of music as the ‘art of sounds’ suggests that every music experience consists in the same cognitive mechanisms, which are used during the processing of any sound stimuli. However, the last two decades have been marked by a heated debate about the possibility of understanding music as a biological adaptation of Homo sapiens. One of the most crucial issues in this debate is the existence of heritable brain modules responsible for processing music stimuli. The existence of such cognitive specialization necessitates differentiating between music and other sound stimuli. However, this task seems to be unrealizable due to avant‑garde movements which emerged in the music of the 20th century. Namely, avantgarde musicians compose music without any pitch and metro-rhythmic orders – features which are processed in separate domain specific brain modules. The debate about music adaptability causes a range of doubts related to the specificity of music experience. If music really were a biological adaptation, one would have to divide human experience of the ‘art of sounds’ into two categories. The one which is music specific and the other which does not particularly differ from listening to environment. This kind of experiential dichotomy would indicate duality of music phenomena which are present in the contemporary culture. The vast majority of music would be built of the following two components: the ‘adaptive’ one and the ‘inventive’ one. The former would emerge spontaneously in all music cultures and it would be processed by music specific cognitive mechanisms. The latter would depend on composers’ imagination and human creativity. A part of the avantgarde music, however, would be deprived of the ‘adaptive’ component. Therefore, experiencing this kind of music would not involve the distinction between music specific listening and listening to environmental sounds.

Intentional Object in the Context of the Creative Process

Krzysztof Lipka

The most important element of the creative process is working out in detail the entire concept of the work, while during the stage of its realization, modeling of the work’s ethos in line with the concept takes place. This is being done by condensation and setting up reciprocal relevance of transcendentals: beauty, goodness, truth which are assigned to each important elements of the work: form, content, material. Of course, in this modeling of the ethos of a work of music, an artist’s intuition plays the main role. Art’s biggest secret consists of the task in which – as per the above possibilities – the planned contents are completed with the most appropriate other two elements: material and form. This is a problem which does not occur in any other types of existence.

Music and the Experience of Space and Movement. Between Conceptual Metaphor and Perception

Ewa Schreiber

Since the 1980s, the cognitive theory of metaphor has strongly influenced many musicologists. The followers of the interactionist approach are mainly interested in musical meaning and the relations between music and language. Those scholars, who follow the cognitive theory of metaphor concentrate on the categorization of reality and the relations between mind and body. The concepts of space and movement rate among the most elementary metaphors used in music description. However, both their understanding and genesis is presented in different ways. Roger Scruton states that the metaphors of musical movement and space are intentional products of imagination, devoid of any empirical elements. According to the followers of cognitive linguistics (Candace Brower, Steve Larson, Janna Saslaw), metaphors of space and movement are grounded in everyday bodily experience.

The authors who question the functionality of such research stress that dealing with music requires special terminology and the knowledge about its historical transformations (Michael Spitzer). They also state that contemporary music is described by different and more adequate metaphors (Robert Adlington). Other scholars, on the contrary, do not define these concepts as metaphors and argue that they can be understood as either abstract terms (Naomi Cumming) or the actual elements of perception (Eric Clarke).

The debate on the concepts of space and movement reveals the music perception as a complex phenomenon, formed between the concrete and the abstract, between the bodily experience and the verbal description.

Difficulty of Classical Music as a Contemporary Trial of Initiation

Marcin Napiórkowski

The text analyzes the category of ‘difficulty’ in contemporary critical discourse. It appears that it is rooted simultaneously in three different fields: it describes some immanent qualities of the music piece; it is a characteristic of an act of perception; and it is a tool of social stratification separating ‘the initiated’, who have understood the piece, from ‘the rest’. This phenomenon resembles some well‑analyzed trials of initiation, where, by facing some artificial danger, and experiencing the difficulty, a disciple proves that he is ready to become a member of a certain group.

In Pursuit of Speech, Music and Body adventures: Sensual Discourse of Pascal Quignard

Anna Chęćka-Gotkowicz

The article below is a reconstruction of these connections between language, image and music, which in Quignard’s output reveal a unique, sensual aspect of experiencing art. Through this experience, the subject reaches the mystery of its own origin, eroticism and death. A starting point for the author is the presentation of the biographical context of the French writer’s output. Against this background, there appear analyses of Quignard’s key issues, such as the expressive potential of speech or the precedence of music over the visual and the verbal. The purpose of the article is to show the novelty of Quignard’s perception of art and existence. The artistic character of his writing precludes putting him into the framework of any specific methodology or philosophical system. However, there is no doubt that Quignard’s work can be recognized as an inspiring reading for aestheticians, cultural studies experts and all sensitive recipients of art.

“Maldoror’s Mechanical Singing” – On the Experience of Industrial Music

Rafał Ilnicki

In this article, Maldoror serves as a conceptual personae of the experience of industrial music; an experience which cannot be reduced merely to the sensory experience of mechanically generated noise. The article presents the outline of a theory grounded in the listener’s being – the listener is constantly subjected to “chaotic sounds” which, by design, destroy the image of his thought. Consequently, industrial music is interpreted in terms of chaonticity – a chaotic reality that replaces images of thought. The main purpose of this interpretation is to show the therapeutic value of industrial music, which might seem paradoxical since experimental phenomenology is contrary to the philosophy of destruction in the area of existential practice. The therapeutic value would lie in the ability of industrial music to reconstitute being itself in new images
of thought based on chaonticity.

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