Aesthetic experience of music:
influencing factors on individual and group level
The observation that one and the same aesthetic object is valued differently by different people was already made and discussed in antiquity, as well as the observation that people differ in regard to their more or less stable preferences for or aversions to aesthetic objects and object classes. So far, research has discussed a number of psychological and sociological factors that influence individuals’ preferences and judgments in specific ways.
We expand on this in various ways, most notably by studying not only effects on judgments, but on differences in perception and aesthetic experience, and by researching not only socially but also culturally diverse groups.
The notion that music is not only the art of sound but also something like a universal “language” of emotions is widely held in both popular opinion and scientific research until today. This notion can be traced back into the 18th century and to philosophical theories about the origin of language and music (Rousseau, Herder, and Forkel, among others).
This project investigates the perception and performance of musical rhythm in different cultures. It compares them in terms of their degree of cross-cultural similarity or diversity and thus will enhance an empirically founded discussion of anthropological universals and cultural diversity.
Particularly in the eighteenth century, the conviction that there was an essential relationship between musical contents and the facial expressions and gestures of performers, so that “a large part of music” lay in the art of gesture (Johann Mattheson), belonged to the topoi of an enlightened musical aesthetic. In the tradition of antique rhetoric, facial expressions and gestures were understood to be an important element in an expressive musical “sound discourse.”
Music and art historians specializing in the Late Medieval period and Renaissance are familiar with the typical pictorial representation of a vocal ensemble: the singers are assembled around a single lectern or manuscript, pressed tightly together;
In quantitative research on musical tastes and preferences, data from national surveys play a major role. However, these surveys usually serve other purposes than those of taste research and are almost never designed by the researchers themselves. This typically results in somewhat akward and incompatible operationalizations of taste and preference.
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