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«Seiner Leidenschaften Meister sein» - «In control of the passions»

Zur Reflexion des Gefühls im Musikdenken - Emotion as reflected in musical thinking

Joachim Noller

Was heißt es, wenn Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach vom ausführenden Musiker fordert, er müsse selbst gerührt sein, bevor er seine Zuhörer in Rührung versetzen könne? Der Autor schreibt über die Idee der Emotion, über ihre Rolle im Szenario sogenannter Musikanschauung (von ca. 1750 bis heute). Von Interesse ist dabei weniger die Gefühlshaltigkeit der Musik selbst, als vielmehr die Art, wie das Musikdenken dieselbe be- und verhandelt; nicht Emotionen in tatsächlicher Wirkung, sondern wie sie, als Denkfigur, in musikalischen Zusammenhängen theoretisch bewältigt werden.
What does it mean when Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach demands that a performing musician must himself be moved before he can move his listeners? The author writes about the idea of emotions and their role in the scenario of what is called music appreciation (from about 1750 till the present day). His focus is not primarily on the emotional content of music as such, but rather the way in which it is treated in thinking about music; not on the actual impact of emotions, but the way in which they have been thought about in a musical context, as concepts around which a theoretical discourse crystallizes.
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II Music and thinking about emotion. Prolegomena


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Music and thinking about emotion. Prolegomena

By way of a brief introduction to our theme, this chapter will deal with the linkage between music and emotion; our intention here is to explore the corresponding associations in general thinking about music, above all ideas which cling on tenaciously and which place emotional content at the centre of the conventional perception of music.

When someone thinks of their favourite music, they associate it with a certain mood, with the feelings it evokes etc.. But this may also occur in the opposite direction: thinking about feelings conjures up associations with music, either diffuse or sometimes very specific ones. We quoted extensively from Antonio Damasio's neuropsychological book on emotional theory Looking for Spinoza in the previous chapter. This hardly touches at all on the connection between neuropsychology and music, and yet it is striking how the scientist - on the very first page of the book - starts his train of thought off: "But there they are, feelings of myriad emotions and related states, the continuous musical line of our minds, the unstoppable humming of the most universal of melodies that only dies down when we go to sleep, a humming that turns into all-out singing when we are occupied by joy, or a mournful requiem when sorrow takes over"356. The author wants to put emotions into words - and to do it he draws on musical metaphors. The need to find an...

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