Emotions in the Listener: A Criterion of Artistic Relevance

Matteo Ravasio


Philosophers of music and psychologists have examined the various ways in which music is capable of arousing emotions in a listener. Among philosophers, opinions diverge as to the different types of music-induced emotions and as to their relevance to music listening. A somewhat neglected question concerns the possibility of developing a general criterion for the artistic relevance of music-induced emotions. In this paper, I will try to formulate such a criterion. In whatever way music may induce emotions and regardless of the sorts of emotion music is taken to arouse, a given emotion will qualify as artistically relevant if and only if it is caused by appropriate listening, it is dependent on features of the piece of music as a work of art and is capable of further directing our attention to such features.


Music; Emotion; Artistic Relevance; Artistic Value; Musical Understanding

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