Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Landini, Gregory

First Committee Member

Fumerton, Richard

Second Committee Member

Fales, Evan

Third Committee Member

Duerlinger, James

Fourth Committee Member

Addis, Laird


The central undertaking of this project is to initiate a phenomenological theory of musical experience. The core views expressed are that musical rhythm is the most fundamental, and the only essential, component of the musical experience, and that the essence of musical experience lies in attending to rhythm as communicative of a sense of time.

In the introduction I set out the general phenomenon of musical understanding and argue for the relevance of phenomenological description of basic musical experience for the theory of musical understanding. I continue this work by considering Jerrold Levinson's concatenationist view, and indicate the need for a more adequate characterization of basic musical experience. I then discuss Roger Scruton's attempt to distinguish musical from nonmusical hearing in terms of metaphorical perception and acousmatic listening and conclude that neither provides an essential characteristic of musical hearing. I present the theory and method of phenomenology and trace out what I take to be phenomenologically adequate theories of sound and auditory experience. The heart of the work explores the notion of musical time along with the nature of the experience of rhythm and meter.

The first part of the final chapter contains an historical and critical overview of philosophical accounts of the connection between music and the emotions, and the related issue of whether music possesses any "content" beyond sounds and their melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic organization. The second part considers attempts to pursue a theoretical analogy between music and language.


v, 147 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 142-147).


Copyright 2012 Shawn Raja Akbar

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