Music, Mind, and Body, 1650-1900

This project traces the role of music in theories of the mind and body, as well as the ways in which understandings of the mind and body have been historically applied to explain the effects of music during the period bookended by Descartes and Charcot. I argue that everyday engagement with music and sound —ranging from the properties of acoustics to the use of music for mood regulation and the acquisition of complex motor skills involved in learning an instrument— provided a richly intuitive domain from which to imagine neurophysiological accounts of physical and subjective experience alike. Music and sound thus played a crucial role in the development of what eventually became the modern cognitive sciences.


Related publications:

Carmel Raz, “Hector Berlioz’s Neurophysiological Imagination.” Forthcoming, Journal of the American Musicological Society 75.1 (2022).

Carmel Raz, “Séances, “Sperrits,” and Self-Playing Accordions: Musical Instruments in Victorian Spiritualism.” Journal of Musicology 38.2 (2021),  230-59.       Link

Carmel Raz, “How the Sheng became a Harp,” Journal of Sound Studies 6.2 (2020): 239–56. DOI: 10.1080/20551940.2020.1794648        Link.

Carmel Raz and Stanley Finger, “Musical Glasses, Metal Reeds, and Broken Hearts: Two Cases of Melancholia Treated by New Musical Instruments.” In The Routledge Companion to Music, Mind and Wellbeing: Historical and Scientific Perspectives, ed. Penelope Gouk, Jacomien Prins, Wiebke Thormaehlen, and James Kennaway.Routledge, 2018, 77–92.        Link

Carmel Raz, “Music, Theater, and the Moral Treatment: the Case Dei Matti of Aversa and Palermo,” special issue on “Italian Music and the Medical Sciences,” Laboratoire italien 20.2 (2017).       Link

Carmel Raz, “‘The Expressive Organ Within Us’: Ether, Ethereality, and Early Romantic Ideas about Music and the Nerves,” 19th-Century Music 38.2 (2014): 115–144.        Link



Listen to a BBC feature about work relating to this project here (the segment starts around minute 36 of the program).