The Acquisition of Musical Performance Expertise: Deconstructing the ‘Talent’ Account of Individual Differences in Musical Expressivity
An apparently almost irresistible popular line of explanation for this general lack of musical accomplishment in the population is the invocation of the presence or absence of ‘musical talent’. John Sloboda, Jane Davidson, and Michael Howe proposed the existence of a folk psychology of talent, which postulates substantial innately determined differences between individuals in their capacity for musical accomplishment. One major purpose of this chapter is to marshal evidence and arguments for an alternative view to the prevalent folk psychology. This alternative view holds the capacity for musical accomplishment of one sort or another to be a species-defining characteristic. The chapter addresses the distinction between technical and expressive aspects of musical performance. Those who are prepared to concede that talent might not be the best explanation of technical development are much more reluctant to concede on the issue of expressivity.
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