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Emotion and Meaning in Music (Phoenix Books)

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226521398
ISBN-10: 0226521397
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This is a book meant for every student interested in music and discusses music theories.
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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Books
  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (February 15, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226521397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226521398
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How many music theory books written over 45 years ago are still taken seriously, never mind still in print?

It was my great pleasure to study with Leonard Meyer at the University of Pennsylvania from '86 through '89. Even though I am a composer and not really a theorist any more, I consider him one of my most influential teachers. His writings and lectures deeply affected me as a composer in that his understanding of music -- how it works, how it affects us, how our individual cognitive processes come to bear on what we are hearing -- found its way into my aesthetic. Even though Dr. Meyer in later years came to argue with himself (this was tremendous fun, by the way: sitting in his lectures, listening to him tell himself why his earlier writings were so wrong), this is great stuff, written by a great man.

Be forewarned that in spite of the title, this is musically technical stuff: don't expect vague, poetic philosophizing. The analyses are intense and detailed and require a strong background in music theory and form.
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Format: Paperback
How very few thinkers on music dare even consider the topic of emotion and meaning in music shows the difficulty of the task Meyer sets himself. This is a truly important book--far beyond any history or theoretical tome I've ever read, this aims right at the heart of what music is about. It is very tough going--this was adapted from Meyer's doctoral dissertation, but it repays every effort made. Meyer's mind is enviably far-ranging; he uses examples from the visual arts to the hard sciences and philosophy to make his points. His later book, Explaining Music, is an easier read, still full of valuable insights but much more oriented toward a theoretical, quasi-Schenkerian approach to music. But for me, Emotion and Meaning in Music (along with his much later Style and Music) is much more significant, dealing with more profound and much less frequently discussed issues. This book has my HIGHEST recommndation.
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Format: Paperback
I see that the other reviewers here either hate this book or love it. I fall in the latter category. Having studied music theory extensively, this is the one book that actually deals with music as a communicating art, not as a bunch of symbols on paper. I think that any composer of music (pop, Classical, rock, etc.) could learn valuable pointers on how to write music that is interesting and moving to the listener. One of the problems with much 20th Century music is that it exists on paper as something interesting, but does not reach the ear as such. It appears that Leonard Meyer has been daring enough to admit that music can affect people's emotions and maintain their interest intellectually, rather than just existing as an exercise in note placement (alla Schenker or Forte).
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Format: Paperback
I found this book quite enlightening, as well as pleasant to read. Like Professor Tolkien's hobbitts, I enjoy books that tell me things I already intuited but had no terms for.
The book explains concepts by illustrations from several fields. If you are familiar with even one of the fields, it gives you immediate insights to the others.
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Format: Paperback
I have yet to finish up with the book but it's a very clear thorough book. Meyer explains details that you thought couldn't be explained. I have intuited a lot of the material but it is so darn gratifying to see it written, to see I haven't made it up out of thin air!

Really a must read!!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was pivotal in my personal musical development. It is very scientific and factual in its approach, using logic and analysis which may seem quite unmusical, but it is all at the service of its title, the Emotion and Meaning in Music.

If you are a scientist, I highly recommend this as an approach to classical music.

If you are a trained musician, I highly recommend this as an opening into musical and psychological analysis that is not covered in music school.
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