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Welcome to JMM14!

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JMM: The Journal of Music and Meaning publishes articles as they become ready for publication. In this blog you can follow the development of the 14th issue of JMM.
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A Music Model of Zettel 608: Haydn and Beethoven

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Jan 12, 2018 10:37:52

Most scholars understand para. 608 of Wittgenstein’s Zettel (Z608) to suggest that language and thought might arise from chaos at the neural centre. Various commentators have suggested that Z608 holds that linguistic meaning may arise from connectionist chaos at the neural centre, causal indeterminacy at the neural centre, some generalized physical chaos at the neural centre, or even a pile of sawdust at the neural centre. However, such views contradict Wittgenstein’s signature view in his later period that the philosopher “must not advance any kind of theory” (Philosophical Investigations, para. 109). Since Wittgenstein believed that music is not just for enjoyment but can “instruct” humanity, and since he repeatedly compared language to music, this paper proposes a music model of Z608. This music-model builds upon the alternative “Religious-Cosmological” interpretation of Z608 by virtue of the traditional connection, tracing to Pythagoras, between tonal music and cosmology, specifically, the view that musical harmonies (as it were, “musical meaning”) arises from a chaos of sounds by virtue of (musical) movement towards the stabilizing tonal centre. After first discussing this connection between music and cosmology in general terms the paper discusses the role of this religious-cosmological imagery in two of Wittgenstein’s most revered composers, Haydn and Beethoven. Finally, the paper shows how this music-model illuminates not just Z608 but Wittgenstein’s later philosophy of language in general. The conclusion is that producing a language is less like pasting labels on things and more like composing traditional tonal music. Since Haydn’s and Beethoven’s music reflects the aesthetic and ethical structure of the classical cosmos, the image in Z608 is, in effect, the image of the emergence of the cosmic symphony from chaos by virtue of (musical) movement towards the true centre, with all of the aesthetic and ethical dimensions this involves, that pervades Western religion, cosmology, literature, music, and art. On this music-model the resolution of philosophical problem is not like the resolution of scientific or engineering problems but is more like the resolution of Haydn’s or Beethoven’s problems. Thus, the music-model of Z608 illustrates the meaning in Wittgenstein’s 1936 remark (reproduced in Culture and Value) that there is a “queer resemblance” between philosophical (conceptual) and aesthetic investigations.

The author, Richard McDonough, has a B.A. in philosophy, with minors in mathematics and chemistry, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell University. He has published a book on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, a book on Martin Heidegger, and about 92 articles and 11 book reviews in philosophy, psychology, and linguistics. He has taught at Bates College, the National University of Singapore, the University of Tulsa, the University of Maryland, James Cook University, and the Arium School of Arts and Sciences in Singapore. He has taught philosophy, psychology, physics and writing courses. He specializes in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, the history of philosophy (especially ancient Greek philosophy and 19th and 20th century German philosophy). He is currently writing a book on Plato and a book on the transition from Wittgenstein’s early philosophy to his later philosophy.

Read Richard McDonough’s paper here.

How can the understanding of analysis of sonata form movements be deepened by the use of graphic representation?

Peer-Reviewed Papers Posted on Aug 01, 2017 13:36:40

The aim of the study presented in this paper is to explore the nature of understanding when learning music through the use of ‘graphic representations’ trialled in a learning conversation with a ten-year old flautist. It is argued that the powerful visual component of presenting a musical score in graphic form can enhance students’ understanding and ability to process the score more effectively by providing a succinct way of accessing the data. Central to understanding the analysis of sonata form movements is the need to create a representation which is independent from the existing score. This study offers a practical way of doing this which has the potential for wider application.

The article has no less than four authors:

David Ferrari has taught music in schools for many years and received a certificate of commendation in the Classic FM’s Music Teacher of the Year Awards. He collected the data for this article while doing further work with the co-authors at Durham University, UK, and currently teaches in the primary sector.

Dimitra Kokotsaki, MA, PhD is a lecturer at the School of Education and a member of the Education Evaluation Group at the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University. She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate modules on the Arts in Education. She has been principal investigator or co-investigator in a number of research projects including leading the evaluation of the Restorative Approaches initiative in County Durham and a recent piece of research funded by the Nuffield Foundation about improving the primary-secondary transition in music education at the North East of England. She is one of the authors of the Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit and is currently the lead process evaluation researcher for the Calderdale writing intervention funded by the Education Endowment Foundation.

Professor Douglas P. Newton PhD DSc teaches and researches in the School of Education of Durham University, UK. His current interest is in the purposeful kinds of thought in formal education, such as, understanding, creative, evaluative and wise thinking. Going beyond the cognitive strategies for exercising such thought, he has described how moods and emotions interact with cognition in ways which direct and shape these kinds of thought. His very successful book, Teaching for Understanding, is now in its second edition (Routledge, 2012), and his latest, highly praised book, Thinking with Feeling (Routledge, 2014) has been very well-received.

Lynn Newton, MA, PhD, is Professor of Education at Durham University, where she is Divisional Director for the School of Education’s range of Initial Teacher Education programmes. She teaches on a range of postgraduate programmes, leading a module on Purposeful, Productive Thought and supervises doctoral students. Previously she worked in schools before moving into university and has published widely in the areas of education generally and science education in particular. Her main interests are effective communication and strategies to encourage engagement. Her latest books are Creativity for a New Curriculum: 5-11 (Routledge, 2012) and From Teaching for Creatvie Thinking to Teaching for Productive Thought: An Approach for Elementary School Teachers (ICIE, Paris, 2013).

Read the article by David Ferrari, Dimitra Kokotsaki, Douglas P. Newton and Lynn Newton here