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Music alone by Peter Kivy - Essay Example

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To understand Kivy’s work, one has to understand the roots of his representational theory. The element of cognition lies in the fact that music paves way for the listener to view the world through the perspective of another individual…
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Music alone by Peter Kivy
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Music alone by Peter Kivy

Taking the example of sad music, it can be said that music is sad in its quality of having sadness as a solid property just like an egg has an oval shape and white color as apparent properties. This approach gives emotions a defined function. Hence, this essay tends to highlight how Kivy shows that music doesn’t arouse emotions rather it defines them i.e. what type of emotions does music make us experience. On pg 40-41, the stimulation model is not embraced by Kivy as it doesn’t account for the mental aspect of listening to music or relating to it. It can be understood from how Kivy illustrates though Tibby’s addiction and arousal. It is limited to arousal and feelings where as Kivy rightly believes that the mind is equally active while music listening. Arousal occurs like a sort of pleasure that is experienced with sugar or favorite foods or as Kivy says on p.40 “as drugs stimulate euphoria”. This does not answer the artistic or moral sense of suitability which makes it seem morally fitting that we hear serious music when serious while lighthearted music when lighthearted. If we look it through the perspective of Kivy, it is explained that the listeners and individuals say emotional utterances, such as "How amazing" or show movements like Mrs Munt taps her feet, but it is undoubtedly not these responses to music that the listeners are observing and analyzing in their minds. This does not occur “mindlessly”. These descriptions of music are cognitive but not emotive. For instance, a popular quote from Kivy is,
"Sadness is a quality of the music, not a power of the music to do things to the listener"
Kivy rejects stimulation model because it largely ignores the conscious and unconscious features of music listening that Kivy elaborates on pg.43. In the unconscious process, ‘expectations are aroused, fulfilled and frustrated’. The weaknesses of the stimulation model are the strengths on the representation model. The representational model of music paints a picture, imitates non musical sounds or tells a story in a song. All these aspects must be included to deduce pleasure from the integrated cognitive experience of music which is not limited to a stimulus for the nervous system. Simply put, the music becomes a cognitive experience because the listener like Tibby perceives the representation in music. The stimulation is on the right only if it has no content; this way it will have no meaning and the listener will have nothing to register or retrieve in his mind. In this light, the stimulation model is right in saying music arouses emotion but music without content. Kivy verifies his stance yet again by extracting the intellectual aspect of ‘counting’ from Leibniz’s account p.38, (Kivy 1990). Kivy’s representational model is quite convincing especially when the reader reads the entire account in detail; if one applies the theory to different passages of music, one can clearly navigate the cognitive elements. The effect of music, as the stimulation suggests cannot be determined by the impact on the listeners’ sense organs. Emotions have their own physiological component and it cannot be confused as a result of music (Kivy 1990). Otherwise, the stimulation model just attempts to be reductionist in a sense, because it does not focus on the intellectual functioning that occurs during the listening of music especially repetitive listening or in the case of the infant as Kivy highlights ... Read More
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