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Reading recommendations on musical meaning

I received some good feeback from my post last week briefly explaining musical meaning. Several were on Twitter:

One question I received on Twitter was whether I would provide some reading recommendations on the topic of musical meaning:

Here are some sources if you are interested in pursuing this topic.

Of course, my two books both deal with the subject extensively:

Appendix C in John Makujina’s book does an excellent job dealing with it as well.

For musicologists’ and philosophers’ perspectives, I recommend the following books:

  • What to Listen for in Music by Aaron Copland
  • The Unanswered Question by Leonard Bernstein (originally a Harvard lecture; watch here)
  • Musical Meaning and Expression by Stephen Davies
  • Emotion and Meaning in Music by Leonard Meyer
  • Feeling and Form by Susan Langer
  • Introduction to a Philosophy of Music by Peter Kivy

Finally, I’ve dealt with the subject from various angles in some articles:

  • I deal with the issue in my series on Christian rap and in my debate with Shai Linne.
  • I presented this paper at BJU Seminary for several years.
  • In this article, “Musical Relativism in Pelagian,” I link to the lecture series given by Makujina at DBTS and then give an argument myself (which may be somewhat of a repeat of the argument in the Christian rap series). I’d recommend Makujina’s lecture series as well, of course.
  • Speaking of Makujina, he presented this paper at a regional ETS that deals with the issue from a similar perspective.
  • I presented this paper (audio) at the Preserving the Truth Conference a few years back, in which I deal with the issue tangentially.
  • This paper (audio) on form in hymnody deals with the issue of meaning in music.
  • I deal with the issue from a multiculturalism perspective in this article. That whole series is worth reading in this regard.

What else would you recommend? I’ll update the post with good suggestions.

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.