Reception-Aesthetics of Music

Reception – Strategy in Aesthetics of Music

Consistent application of reception strategy in scientific reflection of music opens up brand new research starting points for musicology. Sounding music becomes a text, the meanings of which are only potential, i.e. not given in advance. The a priori presumption that music investigated by musicology is a set of musical and artistic works vanishes. For a reception aesthetician, music becomes what it actually is for a real listener: a mass of various sound structures offering themselves to one’s auditory attention. Only the listener is an arbitrator and chooses their own listener’s attitude towards them. Regardless of the intentions of the author or concert dramaturge, it remains up to the listeners whether they will listen to the presented music as to music or art or whether the music will remain only a sound structure that they don’t understand. That is a very worrying scientific situation.

Free Ebook Reception Aesthetics of Music

Free Ebook Reception Aesthetics of Music

What is clear and apparent to a musicologist from a musical notation or a sound recording loses its generality in the reception perspective. What was once proven and argued needs to be proven and argued anew in the current musical and cultural situation, i.e. whether the interpretation of a piece of music valid in the past or only recently is still valid at the present time and if so, is it valid in general? Brand new questions appeared on the scientific scene along with theory of reception-aesthetics of music, the ones familiar to reception aesthetics, e.g.: How does a reader (listener) reveal the semantic potential of texts (pieces of music)?, which led to more fundamental questions: How, why, and under what circumstances do the ways of perceiving texts/listening to pieces of music change? Apparently, the competences of traditional musicology are insufficient here, although the structuralist method retains its indispensable role. It provides reception aesthetics with information obtainable only through an analysis and knowledge of historical facts. However, the result of such an analysis remains a half- truth. Its current evaluation and interpretation has a value only if it gets in the context of a living culture and is evaluated in the reader’s/listener’s perception.

Auditive culture in aesthetics of music

Reception-aesthetics of music brings the concept of auditive culture into the aesthetic framework of thinking about music. Auditive culture belongs to a set of interconnected, interdependent and coexistent socio-cultural spheres: auditive environment – auditive culture – musical culture.

  • This very triad, i.e. the relationships inside it, is the foundation of the philosophy of reception-aesthetics of music. The auditive environment is an environment that constantly resounds. Human sounds are the most significant sounds in our urban environment. They include all the sounds that humans produce directly, and the sounds produced by man-made objects. The sphere of sound production is directly affected by their function. It would be most logical and understandable that the most used and most salient sounds in the environment are those intentionally used by the humans. However, we know that quite the opposite is true: paradoxically (and contrary to our understanding), the functionally important sounds in our environment are overshadowed by the non-functional sounds; the so-called acoustic smog. Acoustic smog represents the body mass of our auditive environment.
  • The second member of the triad is auditive culture. It is in inseparable harmony with the auditive environment. According to reception-aesthetics of music, auditive culture is the image of human sensitivity towards all sounds produced by the humans, and surrounding the humans. Auditive culture expresses the level of awareness and cultivation of sound. This not only applies to the selection of sounds, but also to how they are used, or overused and misused. Whether we like it or not, it is our auditive culture that alters the auditive environment to a “junkyard” with unintended, uncontrolled and unconscious sound production. The auditive environment is a mirror in which the society can view itself and its relationship to the sound (if the society is ever aware of its auditive environment, or chooses to perceive it). Therefore, it is us who complete our sound world and therefore we can conclude that the auditive environment is a mirror, and our auditive culture is the image that is reflected in it.
  • The third member of the triad is musical culture. It is obvious from the above that our auditive culture is directly responsible for the shape of our musical culture. It can be stated without extensive argumentation that it is impossible to live in an uncultivated auditive environment and simultaneously nourish cultivated musical culture in it.

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