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Academic Articles // Musicking // Part #1

1. Dura, Marian T. // 2009 / The Phenomenology of the Music-Listening Experience
Arts Education Policy Review, 107(3), pp. 25-32
Limited Access here

Based on the review of literature above, the music-listening experience, which is seen as immediate and concerned with the mind’s organization of sound into meaningful patterns and understandings, is a complex and manyfaceted phenomenon. I will conclude with a synthesis of the ideas presented and recommendations for music education at the pre-K–12 level. The music-listening experience is one of immersion in sound, with a concomitant loss of the directionality that one experiences in hearing sounds nonaesthetically. It is a very different kind of experience than that of vision, even artistic vision, since sound is invasive and penetrating, and vision is a distancing sense. Music is heard within the entire body, with the ears serving merely as focal organs. Music listening is an active experience but a special kind of activity that confers a quasi-subjectivity on the object, giving it an animated quality and making it appear to have a life of its own. The object seems to “put itself together” for presentation to the listener, and it contains within itself its own meaning. At the same time, some writers see the need for disinterestedness or psychical distance, which removes the experience from concern about practical outcomes and enables the listener to become lost in the power of the experience.78 The flow, flux, and ephemerality of music emphasize its temporality, give it a history, and link it essentially to imagination. The elements of space and time are represented together in movement; indeed, sound cannot occur without movement, since it is a product of collision or friction, both of which imply motion. There is a bodily reaction as well as a cognitive component to the music-listening experience, and they occur simultaneously, coloring each other. Some writers have included an emotional dimension as well, and some have distinguished between perception and reflection in the cognitive realm. As Ellen Dissanayake puts it, “Sheer sense experience, whether unconscious or conscious, without mental mediation, is aesthetically meaningless. It is what the mind makes of the physical sensations that is interesting and relevant”. In her view, cognition and emotion are inseparable. The music-listening experience is seen by some as a heightened form of everyday experience, and by others as a special form of experience, one which requires nurturing and education to develop fully. It is seen as a product of circumstance, with the characteristics of the individual listener and the particular listening situation having a bearing on the quality of the experience.

2. Hargreaves David J. , North Adrian C. // 1999 // The Functions of Music in Everyday Life: Redefining the Social in Music Psychology
Psychology of Music, 27(71), pp. 71-83
Limited Access here

What psychological functions does music serve in everyday life? In this paper we argue that the answer to this question is changing as a result of current social and technological changes in music itself, and that these changes force us to re-evaluate the role of the social context in music psychology. After describing the changes we go on to outline the psychological functions of music in everyday life in terms of the cognitive, emotional and social domains. We next attempt a detailed redefinition of the social psychology of music by reviewing the contents of our recent book of this title. The research findings lead us to conclude that the social functions of music are manifested in three principal ways for the individual, namely in the management of self-identity, interpersonal relationships and mood. This leads us to propose a new agenda for music psychology which places the social dimension at its core, and which considers the interdisciplinary context; the effects of the "democratisation" of music; the role of theory; the relationship between theory and practice; and the implications for research methodology.

3. Helsing, Marie // 2012 // Everyday music listening: The importance of individual and situational factors for musical emotions and stress reduction
Doctoral Dissertation. Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Social Sciences
Free Access here

Music listening primarily evokes positive emotions in listeners. Research has shown that positive emotions may be fundamental for improving both psychological and physical aspects of well-being. Besides from the music itself it is essential to consider individual and situational factors when studying emotional experiences to music. Everyone does not respond in the same way to a piece of music and one individual may respond differently to a piece of music at different times. The main aim with the four papers in this thesis was to explore the effects of everyday music listening on emotions, stress and health. By using the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM), a new approach was taken to study the prevalence of musical emotions in everyday life. In the DRM the previous day is divided into episodes, in terms of activity, experienced emotions, and time of day. The results from study I showed that music occurred in 30 % of the episodes and that positive emotions were more often and more intensively experienced in musical episodes than in non-musical episodes. Music was also related to lower stress levels and higher health scores. The results from study II showed that if music occurred in the episode after a particularly stressful episode, the stress level was lower in both that episode and in the next one compared to if music did not occur. A mediation analysis suggested that the positive emotions induced by the music were mediating the effect of music on stress. The results did also show that liking of the music affected the level of stress. In study III, an experiment group who listened to their self-chosen music on mp3-players when arriving home from work every day for 30 minutes for two weeks’ time was compared to a control group who relaxed without music and with a baseline week when the experiment group relaxed without music. The results showed that although no significant differences were found between the groups, the experiment group showed an increase in intensity of positive emotions and decrease in perceived stress level and cortisol levels over time. No such changes were found within the control group. In study IV, data from study I and III was reanalysed with the purpose of exploring the associations between personality and emotional responses to music. The results showed that the associations between personality and intensity of positive emotions, perceived stress, and use of emotion regulation strategies differed in the two datasets and these inconsistencies indicate that personality is not the main contributor to emotional responses to music. Overall, the results from this thesis indicate that everyday music listening is an easy and effective way of improving well-being and health by its ability to evoke positive emotions and thereby reduce stress. But not just any music will do since the responses to music are influenced by individual and situational factors.

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