Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Music - The Language of Emotion?

Prospects for a New Orientation in Musical Research of Emotions

Date: March 29, 2004, 7.00 p.m.
Speaker: Udo Will (Columbus, Ohio)

In connection with the Opening Conference of the ZiF Research Group Emotions as Bio-Cultural Processes", the reknown ethnomusicologist Prof. Dr. Udo Will will talk about the relation between music and emotions. Prof. Will studied music and in Detmold and Bielefeld. Apart from his Ph.D. in music, he also holds a Ph.D. in neurobioloy and an M.A. in sociology. For ten years, he has lived in Australia studying the music of the Aboriginals and conducted extensive ethnomusical reserach in China.
He argues that the relation between emotions and music has occupied humans since ancient times and for many people, emotional experiences are the reason why they engage in music. It is widely assumed that music can express and also trigger emotions.
However, in spite of intensive research in this area, one has not yet reached a sufficient understanding of the relationship between music and emotions. One of the reasons for this appear to be the manifold theoretical vaguenesses in this area. In his talk, Prof. Will will sketch a possible new orientation in musical sciences which could helpin solving the problems. Central aspects of his vision are:
1. Not the music, but the individual that is actually experiencing emotions should be in the center of research.
2. Emotions have to be conceptualized as integral components of living, acting and interacting organisms.
3. These components have to be interpreted using an evolutionary frame of reference.

The evening will be rounded up with a concert of the group "Zolim" from Togo (Western Africa), presenting traditional African music and dances and thus giving a vivid example of one possible relation between music and emotions in which the spark might well jump over to the audience.



Print
ZiF - Center for Interdisciplinary Research - Homepage > Talks, Readings, ... > 2004 >