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Music and Metaphor

Schroeder, S. (2013) Music and Metaphor. British Journal of Aesthetics, 53 (1). pp. 1-19. ISSN 1468-2842

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ays028


Peter Kivy’s contour theory provides a promising explanation of the way we describe instrumental music as expressive of emotions. I argue that if, unlike Kivy, we emphasise the metaphorical character of such descriptions, the contour theory, as a strategy for unpacking such metaphors, can be defended convincingly against common objections. This approach is more satisfactory than those of Scruton and Peacocke, who make much of metaphorical experiences, but leave the underlying metaphors unexplained. Moreover, it gives the contour theory a wider scope than Kivy intended, for even very specific narrative descriptions of music in non-musical terms are perfectly legitimate as long as they are presented, and justified, as metaphors, that is, as mere comparisons, rather than as interpretative claims about the music’s actual contents.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:31294
Publisher:Oxford Journals

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