Of Essence and Context

Between Music and Philosophy

  • Rūta Stanevičiūtė
  • Nick Zangwill
  • Rima Povilionienė

Part of the Numanities - Arts and Humanities in Progress book series (NAHP, volume 7)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Interrogating Essence

  3. Genesis and Structure

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 95-95
    2. Audronė Žukauskaitė
      Pages 97-108
    3. Tijana Popović Mladjenović
      Pages 119-135
    4. Nicolas Royer-Artuso
      Pages 137-148
    5. Rima Povilionienė
      Pages 149-161
    6. Svetlana Savenko
      Pages 163-170
  4. Musical Work and Performance

  5. Musical Aesthetics of Modernity

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 371-409

About this book


This book provides a new approach to the intersections between music and philosophy. It features articles that rethink the concepts of musical work and performance from ontological and epistemological perspectives and discuss issues of performing practices that involve the performer’s and listener’s perceptions. 

In philosophy, the notion of essence has enjoyed a renaissance. However, in the humanities in general, it is still viewed with suspicion. This collection examines the ideas of essence and context as they apply to music. A common concern when thinking of music in terms of essence is the plurality of music. There is also the worry that thinking in terms of essence might be an overly conservative way of imposing fixity on something that evolves. Some contend that we must take into account the varying historical and cultural contexts of music, and that the idea of an essence of music is therefore a fantasy. 

This book puts forward an innovative approach that effectively addresses these concerns. It shows that it is, in fact, possible to find commonalities among the many kinds of music. The coverage combines philosophical and musicological approaches with bioethics, biology, linguistics, communication theory, phenomenology, and cognitive science. The respective chapters, written by leading musicologists and philosophers, reconsider the fundamental essentialist and contextualist approaches to music creation and experience in light of twenty-first century paradigm shifts in music philosophy.


Aesthetic Turn Interdisciplinarity Musical Work and Performance Musicology Negotiating Essentialism and Contextualism Verbal Models in Music Musical Morphogenesis Concept of Musical Experience Chinese Traditional Music Essence of Music German Musicology Plurality of Music

Editors and affiliations

  • Rūta Stanevičiūtė
    • 1
  • Nick Zangwill
    • 2
  • Rima Povilionienė
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Music HistoryLithuanian Academy of Music and TheatreVilniusLithuania
  2. 2.University of HullKingston upon HullUK
  3. 3.Department of Music TheoryLithuanian Academy of Music and TheatreVilniusLithuania

Bibliographic information