return to list of latest ideas

Single Idea 20404

[catalogued under 21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 3. Emotion in Art]

Full Idea

The 'arousal' theory says music is sad because it moves the hearer to sadness, ...but this seems to get things back to front, because we normally think it is because the music is sad that it moves the listener to sadness.

Gist of Idea

Music isn't just sad because it makes the listener feel sad

Source

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

A Reaction

The objection is right. If Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' always makes me feel sad (because it is so hopelessly optimistic), then that makes the music sad. Is the theory saying that there are no feelings in the music?

Book Reference

Davies,Stephen: 'The Philosophy of Art (2nd ed)' [Wiley Blackwell 2016], p.144

Related Ideas

Idea 20403 It seems unlikely that sad music expresses a composer's sadness; it takes ages to write [Davies,S]

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