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Strong Experiences with MusicMusic is much more than just music$
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Alf Gabrielsson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199695225

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695225.001.0001

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Music and transcendence

Music and transcendence

(p.159) Chapter 13 Music and transcendence
Strong Experiences with Music

Alf Gabrielsson

Oxford University Press

In accounts of strong experiences with music, the experience is sometimes described with words such as ‘magical’, ‘mysterious’, ‘supernatural’, or ‘extraterrestrial’. The narrator feels as if he/she is put in a trance or ecstasy, there may be a feeling of totally merging with something bigger and of glimpsing other worlds or existences. These are examples of transcendental experiences (from the Latin transcendere = to exceed, surpass), that is, experiences that go beyond what is considered as ordinary perception and experience. This chapter presents a selection of accounts that can illustrate such transcendental experiences in connection with music. It is, of course, self-evident that these are hard to put into words. Often, such descriptions are restricted to one or several expressions of the type above, perhaps with the addition of an image or a metaphor. One can also count so-called ‘out-of-body experiences’ as transcendental experiences.

Keywords:   strong experiences with music, transcendental experience, ecstasy, trance, cosmic experiences, magical experience, supernatural, extraterrestrial, personal accounts

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