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Contemplating ArtEssays in Aesthetics$
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Jerrold Levinson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199206179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206179.001.0001

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Evaluating Music

Evaluating Music

(p.184) 10 Evaluating Music
Contemplating Art

Jerrold Levinson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This essay attempts to identify plausible mid-level principles by reference to which one might conceivably justify an evaluation of some music as good, where mid-level principles are ones whose specificity lies between the extremes of, on the one hand, music's being good if it affords appropriate listeners worthwhile experiences, and on the other hand, music's being good if it displays this or that set of technical features held to be productive of musical worth, such as monothematic structure or coherent harmony. The essay draws on the perspective developed in an earlier essay, ‘What Is Aesthetic Pleasure?’, which proposed that the distinctive mark of aesthetic satisfaction in art is that it is satisfaction deriving from attention that focuses on the relation of content to form and form to content in the given work of art. The mid-level principles of musical evaluation arrived at are illustrated in connection with one of Schubert's piano sonatas, the Sonata in A major, D. 959.

Keywords:   musical value, mid-level principles, Schubert sonata, artistic value

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