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Kivy on justifying music in liberal education

journal contribution
posted on 2002-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ron Goodrich
Within analytical aesthetic circles, Peter Kivy is best known for re-igniting the debate inaugurated by Eduard Hanslick over the issue of whether or not music of the purely instrumental or absolute kind can be said to express a content, and, if so, whether or not listeners' emotional responses to it bear any relation to that content. Kivy's particular contribution countenances the possibility of interpreting the appearance of a musical work as expressive - be it the percussive Allegro barbara [1911] by Bela Bartok or the lyrical Adagio for Strings {1936] by Samuel Barber - without having to presume that music itself, being non-sentient by nature, possesses any emotional, subjective state.  This short essay, however, will critically examine a rather neglected facet of Kivy's prolific writings. In a relatively recent attempt to justify the place of purely instrumental music in liberal education without drawing upon the above-mentioned notion of expressiveness, Kivy reconceptualizes the matter in a manner that significantly shifts us from the dominant epistemological arena of debate. No longer are we to dispute the place of music within the terms set by the highly influential forms-of-knowledge approach revived by P.H. Hirst a generation ago and currently under revision by Jim McKenzie in terms of forms of argumentative discourse. But before first surveying and then critically assessing Kivy's proposal, perhaps we should briefly remind ourselves of the contrasting frame of reference associated with Hirst.

History

Journal

Journal of aesthetic education

Volume

36

Issue

1

Season

Spring

Pagination

50 - 59

Publisher

University of Illinois Press

Location

Champaign, Ill.

ISSN

0021-8510

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2000-2008, JSTOR

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