In a lively and engaging introduction to the aesthetics of music and the issues that illuminate musical listening, understanding, and practice, R. A. Sharpe guides the reader through three key questions: What is the work of music? Can music have meaning? Can music have value? He anchors his discussion to examples from Western classical music and jazz and places it in the context of the historical background and philosophical thinking on music from the Ancient Greeks to Eduard Hanslick and Edmund Gurney. Accounts of the philosophy of music often present it as a branch of metaphysics, raising questions about sounds, tones, and musical movement. Sharpe's non-technical treatment is problem-orientated and the questions he raises are about the value of music, the individuality of our assessments, and the way we prize music for its power to move us. He argues that when it comes to music philosophical analysis has its limitations and it is no surprise that there are contradictions in the aesthetics of music or that our judgements about its value are not internally consistent.
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