Music and emotions

Thormählen, W. (2022) Music and emotions. In: The Routledge History of Emotions in the Modern World. Routledge Histories . Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 345-359. ISBN 9780367902438 (hardback) 9781003023326 (e-book)


Discussions on music's relationship to the emotions reach back to Antiquity. During the Enlightenment, this relationship gained particular significance as the arts were framed as tools in the modern moral and social education project. The first part of this chapter explores the aesthetic, theoretical understanding of the idea that music is the ‘language of the emotions’, charting the history of this ‘language’ as it emerged in tandem with idealised notions of fixed works of art. In contrast to the idea of universal emotions in music, the second part reveals music's role as an emotional tool within wider social discourses: here music's emotional impact is not immanent to a work of art; instead music as practice uniquely inspired emotional communities, networks and agencies.

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