Understanding our experience of music: What kind of psychology do we need?
Allesch, C. G. & Krakauer, P. M. (2005). Understanding our experience of music: What kind of psychology do we need? Musicae Scientiae, Special issue 2005-2006, 41-63.
Background in the psychology of music. The historical development of the psychology of music largely followed that of psychology in general. In the 20th century it adopted the research methods and interests of cognitive psychology and more recently has turned to new interdisciplinary connections with psychobiology and the neurosciences. There remains, however, a certain inadequacy regarding work in the psychology of music and cultural psychology and as well of interpretative research aimed at interpreting the role of music in those processes, processes Bruner called "the nature and cultural shaping of meaning-making, and the central place it plays in human action". Background in historical musicology and cultural anthropology. Historical musicology and cultural anthropology maintain that experiencing and understanding music represents a process fundamentally dependent upon cultural context. This begs the question as to how cultural context influences social and individual representations of music in the sense that a particular "style of aesthetic experience" typifies a historical period. Although this is a genuine psychological question, it cannot be answered by a psychology which is restricted to "ahistorical" explanations of information processing. Thus from a cultural anthropological perspective there is strong interest in any kind of "cultural psychology" which is able to conceptualise the dynamic interactions between culturally determined "social representations" of music and the individual mind. Goals. We argue for a "cultural turn" in the psychology of music. Following developments within psychology, research over recent decades in the psychology of music has concentrated on neuro-cognition while cultural aspects have been underestimated as they continue to be in psychology in general. Conclusions. An important task for an interdisciplinary framework that wishes to include the cultural sciences and psychology should be to review recent cultural psychological theories to assess their implications for a psychological theory of music. As examples we use Ernst E. Boesch's Symbolic Action Theory which explicitly refers to the role of aesthetic experience in cultural contexts and Alfred Lang's "semiotic ecology" which provides an appropriate model for conceptualising the complex relations between the development of cultural patterns and the development of related individual representations. ...