Cover image for Music in the moment
Music in the moment
Levinson, Jerrold.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, [1997]

Physical Description:
xii, 184 pages : music ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1620 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3845 .L47 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"Jerrold Levinson's new book, Music in the Moment, makes a major contribution to the now flourishing field of philosophy of music. He has a daring thesis about music listening that is going to shake up the experts, and pose for them, and for us all, some very hard questions. To reuse, yet again, the old clich , no one interested in the field, can afford not to read Levinson's book."--Peter Kivy, author of Authenticities"Jerrold Levinson is one of the world's outstanding philosophers of music. His new book, Music in the Moment, is bold, meticulous, cogent and immensely illuminating of the experience of listening to music."--Malcolm Budd, University of LondonWhat is required for a listener to understand a piece of music? Does aural understanding depend upon reflective awareness of musical architecture or large-scale musical structure? Jerrold Levinson thinks not. In contrast to what is commonly assumed, Levinson argues that basic understanding of music only requires properly grounded, present-focused attention, and that virtually everything in the comprehension of extended pieces of music that suggests explicit architectonic awareness can be explained without positing a conscious grasp of relationships across broad spans.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The conundrum of musical understanding has always been problematic because of music's keen relationship to time: it progresses through time, and therefore does not reveal itself inherently holistically. Levinson (philosophy, Univ. of Maryland, College Park) examines this dichotomy most effectively. Focusing his argument against the idea that synoptic comprehension of a piece of music is a necessary condition for basic musical understanding, he maintains that the perceived coherence of a piece of music rests primarily on our moment-to-moment awareness of it. Building on the ideas of nineteenth-century musician Edmund Gurney, particularly that of "concatenationism," Levinson challenges the implicit architectonic assumptions of some musical theorists, especially the idea that large-scale form must always be consciously held before the mind while listening in order to effect basic musical understanding. The points of his argument demonstrate a good deal of common sense as well as critical acuity, and the book as a whole is a readable phenomenological account of musical hearing. His views are significantly different from those of Peter Kivy in Authenticities: Philosophical Reflections on Musical Performance (CH, Nov'95) and Philosophies of Arts: An Essay in Difference (CH, Feb'98). The bibliography is a good compendium of basic readings in the area of musical aesthetics. General readers and all levels of students. M. Neil; Augustana College (IL)