Enacting Musical Emotions. Sense-Making, Dynamic Systems, and the Embodied Mind
Schiavio, Andrea × van der Schyff, Dylan Cespedes-Guevara, Julian Reybrouck, Mark #
Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
The subject of musical emotions has emerged only recently as a major area of research. However, most of the relevant studies remain committed to a standard cognitivist approach to mind based in appraisal, representations, and a rule-based or information-processing model of cognition. While useful in describing certain aspects of musical emotions, this traditional orientation relies on dichotomous inner-outer frameworks, linear causal schemas, and categorical assumptions about the nature of emotional experience, which is often understood in terms of pre-given mechanistic responses to environmental stimuli. Over the past three decades alternative ‘embodied’ models of mind have challenged this cognitivist approach by emphasising the self-organising aspects of meaning-making, often described as an ongoing process of dynamic interactivity between an organism and its environment. More recently, this ‘enactive’ perspective has been applied to the study of emotion in general, opening up fascinating new possibilities for theory and research. This new approach, however, has received rather limited attention in musical contexts. With this in mind, we critically review the history of music and emotion studies, arguing that many existing theories offer only limited views of what musical-emotional experience entails. We then attempt to provide preliminary grounding for an alternative perspective on music and emotion based on the enactive/dynamic systems approach to the study of mind.