A History of Emotion in Western Music: A Thousand Years from Chant to Pop

ISBN : 9780190061753

Michael Spitzer
456 Pages
178 x 254 mm
Pub date
Dec 2020
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When asked to describe what music means to them, most people talk about its power to express or elicit emotions. As a melody can produce a tear, tingle the spine, or energize athletes, music has a deep impact on how we experience and encounter the world. Because of the elusiveness of these musical emotions, however, little has been written about how music creates emotions and how musical emotion has changed its meaning for listeners across the last millennium. In this sweeping landmark study, author Michael Spitzer provides the first history of musical emotion in the Western world, from Gregorian chant to Beyonce. Combining intellectual history, music studies, philosophy, and cognitive psychology, A History of Emotion in Western Music introduces current approaches to the study of emotion and formulates an original theory of how musical emotion works. Diverging from psychological approaches that center listeners' self-reports or artificial experiments, Spitzer argues that musical emotions can be uncovered in the techniques and materials of composers and performers. Together with its extensive chronicle of the historical evolution of musical style and emotion, this book offers a rich union of theory and history.


Introduction: Why Not?
Part I: The Theory
Chapter 1: Concepts
Chapter 2: Categories
Chapter 3: Compounds
Chapter 4: Histories
Part II: The Narrative
Before Emotion
Chapter 5: The Augustinian Ascent
The Age of Affective Realism
Chapter 6: Passions
Chapter 7: Sentiments
Chapter 8: Emotions
After Emotion
Chapter 9: Affects

About the author: 

Michael Spitzer is Professor of Music at the University of Liverpool, leading the department's work on Classical music. He is former Chair of the Editorial Board of Music Analysis and past President of the Society for Music Analysis. His many publications explore the interactions between music theory, philosophy, and psychology. He inaugurated the series of International Conferences on Music and Emotion at Durham in 2009 and co-organized the International Conference on the Analysis of Popular Music in Liverpool in 2013.

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