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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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Music, consciousness, and the brain:

Music, consciousness, and the brain:

music as shared experience of an embodied present

(p.245) Chapter 14 Music, consciousness, and the brain:
Music and Consciousness

Andy McGuiness

Katie Overy

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the neural basis of musical experience alongside theories of the embodied nature of consciousness. Drawing on previous theoretical work on the role of the human mirror neuron system in emotional responses to music, it proposes that the nature of the musical listening experience is of a shared subjectivity between individual listeners and performers, underpinned by innate bodily responses to musical gestures. Based on an outline of this broad theory, it offers a number of conclusions that include a reassessment of the ideas of ‘musical meaning’ and ‘musical communication’. It is argued that, while communication can be found in music, one of the attributes that distinguishes music from language is that music provides an intimately shared, embodied experience rather than communicating a specific message.

Keywords:   musical experience, consciousness, embodiment, mirror neuron system, musical listening, bodily response, musical meaning, musical communication

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