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An ethnography of hearing: somaesthetic hearing in traditional music

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon McKerrell


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This paper proposes a theoretical approach to aesthetics that is based in the body and a way forward for relativists who are interested in cross-cultural analysis in ethnomusicology. In combining pragmatism’s focus on experience with the ethnography of hearing, this paper attempts to lay out a theoretical position (after Feld’s ‘ethnoaesthetics’) that would allow comparative analysis of different musics on a more interdisciplinary platform. Understanding music pragmatically means abandoning the Cartesian focus on the ‘truth’ of art and creative intention(s) and shifts the focus onto an ethnomusicology of hearing. Based upon detailed interviews with audience members of Scottish traditional music, the language and affective response of a range of listeners is examined in detail. I suggest that hearing can be understood somatically and how ethnomusicologists can comfortably begin formulating comparative questions about the ‘how’ of musical perception, without denying the value or specificity of the local.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McKerrell S

Editor(s): Flath, B., Pirchner, A., Pölzl, E., Sackl, S.

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: The Body Is The Message

Year: 2012

Volume: 2

Pages: 76-89

Series Title: music | media | publishing

Publisher: Grazer Universitätsverlag Leykam

Place Published: Graz, Austria

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9783701102488


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