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Psychology of Music

What makes music good or bad? Are there objective criteria for such a distinction? What impact can and should music have on individuals and on society as a whole? These questions are not new; ancient Greek and Latin authors had already reflected deeply upon the relationship between music, human character, and human behavior. The considerations of the ancients provide valuable guideposts and context for analyzing and reflecting upon the new data collected over the past decades in the fields of psychology, musicology, and music therapy. In this study, bridges are built between the reflections of the classical tradition and the modern fields of research, fostering a mutually beneficial interdisciplinary dialogue related to how music influences the human person. After briefly considering the role of music in ancient culture, a thorough analysis and systematization of the various terms and arguments related to music and its effect on behavior is undertaken, based on a complete review of all Greek as well as Latin writings related to the subject, from the time of the early Pythagoreans (sixth century BC) up until Isidore of Seville († 636 AD). Since the publication almost 50 years ago of Warren D. Anderson’s Ethos and Education in Greek Music, the last major work in the English-speaking world to present reflections of the key Greek authors related to this issue, scholarship has made much progress, and this calls for an updated synthesis of both the historical and current reflections on musical effect and ethos by a systematic presentation and evaluation of terminology and argument. In this study, themes related to music and its effect on human behavior are gone into with particular care, and the various opinions are analyzed and grouped systematically: what could make certain musical innovations or practices “problematic”; how “musical” order relates to a more general “natural” and “cosmic” order; how music can and should contribute to the education and formation of individuals. In a final step, an attempt is made to develop a coherent model for explaining the relationship between music, ethos, and emotions, taking into account the results of contemporary research in various disciplines. The concept of harmony, understood as the appropriate measure or as the balance of opposites and so central to the reflections of the ancient authors, plays a key role in shedding light on the value and impact, both positive and negative, of music in human existence.
ImageInstitute for Religiosity in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RPP-Institute
ImageThe International Theological Institute, ITI-School of Theology
Image Fr Andreas Kramarz, Ph.D.
Admission free admission
Date & TimeThursday, 08 September 2016
19.00 - 22.00
LocationInternationales Theologisches Institut
Schlossgasse 21
A-2521 Trumau