Thursday, 25 June 1998

Roger Scruton: The Aesthetics of Music (1997)

Edition: Clarendon Press, 1997
Review number: 74

An academic survey of the philosophy of the aesthetics of music must cast its net quite wide. To try to understand the effects that music has on us, and how we distinguish music which has aesthetic effects from sound which does not. The subject, comprehensively surveyed by Roger Scruton, takes in psychology, musicology as well as general aesthetics and philosophy.

A basic knowledge of philosophy and of music is required, though not to such an extent as to exclude amateurs like myself. The discussion is clear, though some bias toward (for example) tonal music does come through. Some of the general aesthetic theory becomes quite hard going, but it is worth while for the understanding of the later music-related discussion.

It is not a book which will change the way I listen to music, but it has certainly shown me the variety of issues which any theory of musical aesthetics needs to answer.

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