return to list of latest ideas

Single Idea 20403

[catalogued under 21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 4. Art as Expression]

Full Idea

The 'expression theory' holds that if music is sad that is because it expresses the composer's sadness, ...but composers take a long time composing sad works, and may even been gleeful at receiving payment for it.

Gist of Idea

It seems unlikely that sad music expresses a composer's sadness; it takes ages to write


Stephen Davies (The Philosophy of Art (2nd ed) [2016], 6.4)

A Reaction

[compressed] Pretty conclusive. I see composing as like acting. Just as you can put on a happy or sad face, so a composer can discover music that feels sad or happy. Three movement sonatas don't fit expression at all.

Book Reference

Davies,Stephen: 'The Philosophy of Art (2nd ed)' [Wiley Blackwell 2016], p.143

Related Ideas

Idea 20404 Music isn't just sad because it makes the listener feel sad [Davies,S]

Idea 20405 Music may be expressive by being 'associated' with other emotional words or events [Davies,S]