Zsolt Bátori: The Role of Music Theory in Music Appreciation: Scientific Explanation or Interpretation?
In Fabian Dorsch and Dan-Eugen Ratiu (eds.), Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics, vol. 4, 2012, 70-82.
ABSTRACT. Music appreciation raises a number of intriguing questions, not only from the point of view of what we understand and appreciate when listening to music unaccompanied by text, but also with respect to the role of music theoretical knowledge in the process of understanding and appreciation. Some may argue that there are relevant and adequate analogies between music theoretically informed listening and specific types of scientific explanations, while others may hold that understanding and appreciating music belongs to the realm of interpreting artworks. In this paper I consider the debate between the interpretation and the scientific explanation accounts of music theory, and I argue that the scientific explanation account is mistaken, for its proposed analogies break down. I also examine the role of ear training from the point of view of this debate, and I propose that the interpretation account needs to be extended with an explication of the role ear training plays in theoretically informed appreciation of music.