A Tale of Two Listeners

  • Martyn Evans
Part of the Swansea Studies in Philosophy book series (SWSP)


Walk into the music section of any decent library and select, in as aimless a way as you like, a dozen or so books about things like composition, the lives of the acknowledged masters, the rudiments of analysis, the history of specific forms and styles, the niceties of interpretation and so on. Read through them at random and pictures will begin to emerge of the experience of listening to music. Not, of course, that the writers need set out consciously to draw such pictures. Nor need their opening remarks lay down the fundamentals of musical experience. Rather, the beliefs they hold about listening will percolate through what they actually say. Whatever their conscious enterprise, they will have assumptions and presuppositions about listening which will inform their discussion. For, after all, it seems likely that it is their own listening which has motivated and indeed which perhaps largely constitutes their particular studies. To discourse, for instance, on a particular composer or on a particular style, or to elaborate on a theory of expression or of musical symbolism they will have listened intensively and extensively. And their own listening may have been of a very methodical and considered kind. The nature of listening is important to their field of interest.


Musical Experience Figurative Language Musical Symbolism Poetic Language Participant Listener 
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Copyright information

© Martyn Evans 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martyn Evans
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Philosophy and Health CareUniversity College of SwanseaWalesUK

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