A Phenomenology of Musical Absorption

  • Simon Høffding

Part of the New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science book series (NDPCS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Simon Høffding
    Pages 1-9
  3. Meeting the Danish String Quartet

  4. Comparative Perspectives

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 89-89
    2. Simon Høffding
      Pages 91-113
    3. Simon Høffding
      Pages 115-133
    4. Simon Høffding
      Pages 135-143
    5. Simon Høffding
      Pages 145-160
    6. Simon Høffding
      Pages 161-171
  5. Phenomenological Underpinnings of the Musically Extended Mind

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 173-173
    2. Simon Høffding
      Pages 175-215
    3. Simon Høffding
      Pages 217-246
    4. Simon Høffding
      Pages 247-255
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 257-282

About this book


“Examining skilled performance in all its fascinating and mysterious intensity, Høffding really
listens to his informants, developing exciting novel methods for interdisciplinary research on
—John Sutton, Professor of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

”A valuable addition to the growing field of music and philosophy, the results are as fascinating
as they are enlightening, and would be of interest to anyone seeking to explore the rich
complexity of musical experience and the ways in which it is possible – and indeed desirable –
to understand ourselves through it.”
—Nanette Nielsen, Associate Professor, University of Oslo, Norway

“This is a study conducted from the inside out – starting inside the masterful musical
performances of the Danish String Quartet, explicated in a detailed set of interviews with the
musicians. Høffding brings the latest developments in phenomenology and cognitive science
to bear on these issues, and creates one of the rare places where expertise in phenomenology
meets expertise in musical performance – an overall performance not to be missed.”
—Shaun Gallagher, Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Excellence, University of
Memphis, USA

This book presents a detailed analysis of what it means to be absorbed in playing music.
Based on interviews with one of the world’s leading classical ensembles, “The Danish String
Quartet” (DSQ), it debunks the myth that experts cannot reflect while performing, but also
shows that intense absorption is not something that can be achieved through will, intention,
prediction or planning – it remains something individuals have to be receptive to. Based in
the phenomenological tradition of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty as well as of Dan Zahavi and
Shaun Gallagher, it lays out the conditions and essential structures of musical absorption.
Employing the lived experience of the DSQ members, it also engages and challenges core ideas
in phenomenology, philosophy of mind, enactivism, expertise studies, musical psychology,
flow theory, aesthetics, dream- and sleep studies, psychopathology and social ontology, and
proposes a method that integrates phenomenology and cognitive science.

Simon Høffding is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Musicology, University of
Oslo, Norway.


philosophy music phenomenology classical music Danish String Quartet Expertise Aesthetic experience Affectivity Musical Absorption Enactivism Cognitive science

Authors and affiliations

  • Simon Høffding
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OsloOsloNorway

Bibliographic information