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Music and ConsciousnessPhilosophical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives$
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David Clarke and Eric Clarke

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553792

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553792.001.0001

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From formalism to experience:

From formalism to experience:

a Jamesian perspective on music, computing, and consciousness

Chapter:
(p.157) Chapter 9 From formalism to experience:
Source:
Music and Consciousness
Author(s):

Meurig Beynon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553792.003.0051

In his essay ‘Does consciousness exist?’ William James identifies a commonly held (mis)conception: that consciousness is ‘one element, moment, factor — call it what you like — of an experience of essentially dualistic inner constitution, from which, if you abstract the content, the consciousness will remain revealed to its own eye’. This chapter shows how James's thinking, in association with an alternative foundational approach to computing, provides the basis for a treatment of the theme of music and consciousness that can embrace many varieties of musical experience and interpretation without compromising integrity. The chapter draws on professional background in computer science to highlight parallels between composing or performing music and Empirical Modelling (EM) — a specific way of using computing technology to build artefacts that has been developed under his direction over the past twenty years. The musical illustrations and references discussed are drawn from the German classical and romantic traditions, which are most salient in his own experience as a pianist and accompanist, with a particular interest in chamber music and songs. But while this reflects his area of relative musical competence, it should not necessarily be taken as indicating that the ideas developed apply only to the narrow musical culture of Western score-based tonal music on which the chapter focuses.

Keywords:   William James, consciousness, Empirical Modelling, computing, musical performance, composing, tonal music, German classical music

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