Philosophical Perspectives on Music


The first Romantic period of the nineteenth century is characterized by the emergence of the new musical genre known as “romanticism.” Unlike earlier composers who emphasized the beauty of form and formal features of music, the Romantics placed equal importance on expressive qualities and evocative power. The term “romanticism” derives from the medieval tales of chivalry and heroes, who travel to far-off lands to win the hearts of their lovers. Later, the German and Italian operas were dominated by Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi.

Among philosophers, Kivy rejected the idea of a conceptual tension between music and emotions. While music may take on an intentional object, emotion cannot take on that form unless we believe it is threatening. This is why, in some philosophical schools, music is not a pure form of art. It is, however, the form of an object that is perceived to be threatening that causes people to experience fear. The same holds true for art.

A key distinction between improvisation and composition is its scope. Improvisation involves two different activities: analyzing musical works and performing them. Critical interpretation is the process of analyzing music works and performative interpretation refers to the process of singing or playing a work. According to Maus and Levinson, “the two are not equivalent. A musician who has mastered both techniques has a deeper understanding of music than a person who does not.”

Philosophers have long acknowledged the importance of music, although no one has ever claimed it is necessary for human existence. Democritus, an ancient Greek philosopher, argued that music was simply a by-product of superfluous things. This view has remained prevalent in some circles, but the development of psychological understanding of play and its role in human life has begun to change this notion. This article is intended to provide a brief overview of music’s historical development.

Throughout history, music has shaped the social and cultural environment. It has influenced all spheres of human life, from ancient cultures to modern societies. It has the power to stir passions, incite social change, and bring people together. As a result, many cultures believe that music can affect the soul and cause deep emotional responses. Furthermore, its emotional effect has become so widespread that it has been used for therapeutic purposes, geriatric care, and even in advertising.

While St. Augustine was attracted to music, he remained skeptical of its sensual aspect, and was concerned that its melody would never overshadow the words. St. Augustine’s view was in line with other early Christian thinkers, such as Aristotle and Plato. While Augustine admired music as a necessary part of religious practice, Thomas Aquinas reaffirmed his view, arguing that music is a natural expression of celestial motion.

The debate on the expressiveness of music is similar to the debate on the expressiveness of architecture. The defenders of expressiveness argue that music expresses emotion by way of its dynamic character. However, this approach has its logical-priority problem. Regardless of the theory, the expressiveness of music contributes to its overall musical value. The resemblance between expressiveness and emotional content has been the focus of much debate.