Music and dance

Thormählen, W. (2019) Music and dance. In: A Cultural History of the Emotions in the Age of Romanticism, Revolution and Empire (1780-1920). A Cultural History of the Emotions, 5 . Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 9781472515063


The relationship of music to emotions is intricately linked to the fundamental shift in the conception of the emotions themselves from physical to mental states at the beginning of the century. The commonplace that music is the language of the emotions is cemented as emotions become a cognitive entity. This chapter outlines the last vestiges of a musical emotionology still rooted in physiologial effects in theories propounded in the late eighteenth century before tracing music’s transfiguration into the metaphysical realm. The myriad aesthetic and scientific approaches to music’s powerful effects that characterise nineteenth-century engagement with music share one common objective: they herald a canonisation of particular musical repertoires by arguing for their powers independent of external, "interested" factors. Music as social practice is relegated to a lower status; context aesthetically compromises true art if emotion is foregrounded as music’s manipulative rather than universal power. Dance is thus separated from "pure music" and aestheticised separately as a theatrical more than a musical art.

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