Selected Theories of Music Perception

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This is an historical and philosophical analysis of eight major theories that concern music perception, cognition, and meaning. These theories, developed in the 20th century, are among those most often cited by the music psychology and philosophy research literature. Included are Carl Seashore's theory of musical inheritance, Information theory, Mary Louise Serafine's theory of music as thought, music cognition versus speech cognition, neural network and Connectionist theory, and the musical meaning and communication theories of Susanne Langer, Leonard Meyer, and Peter Kivy. The links between these theories and other experimental and philosophical research are considered as well. The final chapter offers a list of 21 principles of music cognition and aesthetic communication derived from the analysis of each theory. The analyses reflect the recent historical development of music psychology and philosophy research, and serve as a useful guide for future investigations.


"This publication is an outstanding contribution to the field of music cognition and should be of great interest to philosophers, psychologists, aestheticians, musicians, and those music specialists interested in music psychology and music education. . . . written in a style that makes the reading easy, even when the going gets tough. . . . I highly recommend this book to those interested in music cognition and to those who simply are looking for some explanations of theories about how human brains deal with music." - Jack J. Heller

"Although frequently theoretically dense and always scholarly and rigorous, it is written in a style that at times is almost conversational, revealing a sense of humour and a fascination with the process of thinking itself. . . . it would be an excellent companion to a course in psychology of music or in cognition and perception, especially at the graduate level." - Lee R. Bartel

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