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The Power and Value of Music

Its Effect and Ethos in Classical Authors and Contemporary Music Theory


Andreas Kramarz

Nobody doubts that music has a special, somewhat mysterious power. Less clear is how we can evaluate that power. What makes music good or bad? Are there objective criteria for such a distinction? What impact can or should music have on individuals and on society as a whole? What are the factors responsible for the effect of music? This book summarizes and discusses how authors of classical antiquity addressed these questions on musical «ethos» and how they can be approached from a modern-day perspective.
After systematically assembling and assessing the value-carrying characterizations of music in poetic literature, the author reviews all noteworthy Greek and Latin writings which enlighten musical «ethos» from the theoretical-philosophical perspective. He then carries the intuitions of the ancients into our time by proposing a coherent model to explain the relationship between music, ethos, and emotions based on the results of contemporary research in the disciplines of music psychology and philosophy. The concept of harmony, understood as the appropriate measure or as the balance of opposites and so central to the reflections of the ancient authors, plays a key role in shedding light on the value and impact, both positive and negative, of music in human existence.
This book provides the most comprehensive overview available about the effect and ethos of music in antiquity and discusses many related questions of scholarly interest. It includes numerous references provided in the original language with translation, ample empirical material for further research, and an extensive bibliography.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Kramarz, Andreas, author. Title: The power and value of music: its effect and ethos in classical authors and contemporary music theory / Andreas Kramarz. Description: New York: Peter Lang, [2016] | Series: Medieval interventions: new light on traditional thinking; ISSN 2376-2683 (print), ISSN 2376-2691 (online); v. 1 | Includes bibliographical references and indexes. Identifiers: LCCN 2015047991 | ISBN 9781433133787 (hardcover: alk. paper) | ISBN 9781453918340 (e-book) Subjects: LCSH: Music—Philosophy and aesthetics. | Music, Influence of. | Music, Greek and Roman—History and criticism. Classification: LCC ML3845.K8125 2016 | DDC 781.1—dc23 LC record available at

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

Cover image: Carl Gustav Carus (1789–1869), The Goethe Monument—WGA4518 (1832), Kunsthalle Hamburg, Inventar-Nr. 1157, oil on canvas, 715 × 535 mm

“For Goethe, Carus has devised a mystical ‘earth-life painting’ in which the music of the spheres, the harmony of the cosmos, presides over the harmonious complementarity of geological and meteorological interests.” —Oskar Bätschmann in C. G. Carus, Nine Letters on Landscape Painting

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