Knowledge matters – The Role of Framing Information for Music Appreciation Processes

In every concert, while listening to a CD, and during a radio broadcast a direct influence is exerted on the music listening and the listener’s aesthetic perspective. Whether we speak of concert-program texts, CD booklets, or a moderator’s comments: in all these cases the listener’s expertise or knowledge is altered—in the ideal-typical assumption at work in this study, before the listening experience—and the attention newly focused in conjunction with the contents that have been read or heard.
Already with its arrival on the scene and integration into nineteenth century concert life, the informative text had three central components (Thorau 2013): 1) knowledge of the work in the more narrow sense, hence for example information on the history of a work’s creation or a composer’s biography; 2) knowledge regarding classification and valuation, conveyed in terms of a general characterization and containing statements regarding the significance of a work’s compositional and cultural history; 3) knowledge of interpretation and reception guiding the reader through the musical sequence by means of analytical-interpretive description and drawing attention to aspects of the work that “should be heard.”
Starting with the assumption that these forms of “knowledge” and “information” become a direct part of the listener’s subjective (musical) conceptualization we are interested in examining their influence on the experience and evaluation of what is heard. At the same time, in this context we will study the influence of the mode of description (for example a description oriented toward a work’s analytic-structural or emotional-expressive aspects) on the perception of musical expression.

External research partner: Timo Fischinger (Freiburger Institut für Musikermedizin/Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main)