Music as an Aesthetic Experience

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The introduction of Donald J. Funes' book Musical Involvement addresses the topic of music as an aesthetic experience. The preface to the introduction is the realization that truly listening to music requires an active response, and this type of listening is not innate. All throughout the day we are bombarded with music and every day sounds, most of which remain in our periphery. It can be difficult to focus on a single event such as a concert, lecture or any other situation that requires a quite environment because we can attend to around seven sensory inputs at any one time, including our internal conversations. Suddenly our periphery senses can become distracting to the point where they detract from the single auditory source we are trying to focus on. Actively listening requires the listener to minimize the external an internal distractions so that the important details of the work are heard. Funes notes that this is a highly rewarding way of listening but it is not the only way interacting with music. Musical Involvement is a guide to learning how to actively listen to music to achieve an aesthetic experience.

Funes argues that in order to have an aesthetic experience with music, then first it is necessary to perceive music as an aesthetic object which is only possible if an aesthetic attitude is adopted. There are several components to having an aesthetic attitude. The first is the realization that preconditioned responses limit experiences. Meaning, your attitude influences your perception. A negative attitude can prevent anyone from enjoying an experience. Learning to view a situation from other perspectives can improve control over mindset therefore expanding the possibilities of responses to experiences. Since a negative attitude is a contradiction to adopting an aesthetic attitude, all aesthetic listening is positive.

To adopt an aesthetic attitude it is not necessary to develop a personal theory on aesthetics; it is only necessary to...
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