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Exploring the Musical MindCognition, emotion, ability, function$
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John Sloboda

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198530121

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198530121.001.0001

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Music and Worship: A Psychologists Perspective

Music and Worship: A Psychologists Perspective

(p.345) Chapter 20 Music and Worship: A Psychologists Perspective
Exploring the Musical Mind

John Sloboda

Oxford University Press

The role of music in worship is not a topic that has greatly exercised psychologists. Both the psychology of music and the psychology of religion are very much ‘fringe’ topics in contemporary psychology. The number of psychologists interested in both must be tiny. This chapter takes a phenomenological approach to worship. That is to say, the chapter concentrates on what it understands people to be doing or feeling in worship, and tries to describe this in theologically neutral language. Where it has seemed necessary, for ease of expression, to use terms like ‘God’, the chapter is neither claiming to be theologically precise nor attempting to use any particular set of dogmatic assumptions, whether Christian or otherwise, to support the arguments. It further shows that one has choices about the mental processes one engages in a musical context, and discusses musical ineffability.

Keywords:   music, worship, psychology of music, religion, phenomenological approach, God, mental processes, musical context, ineffability

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