by David Clarke, International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University, UK
Eric Clarke, Faculty of Music, University of Oxford, UK
Published in Arts and Humanities in HE Humanities Special Issue 13 (1-2) 2014
Calls to Action and Exemplary Essays http://ahh.sagepub.com/content/13/1-2/77.full.pdf+html
If there is a topic on which the humanities might make a distinctive claim, it is that of consciousness—an essential aspect of human being. And within the humanities, music might make its own claims in relation to both consciousness and being human. To investigate this connection, David Clarke and Eric Clarke brought together a wide variety of contributors in the book Music and Consciousness: Philosophical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives (OUP, 2011). The collection contributes to debates in consciousness studies at large, but also maps out areas peculiar to music and consciousness. Additionally, it lays bare the sheer multiplicity of discourses that emerges when consciousness is approached from even a single field of inquiry, such as music. If this poses a challenge for arriving at any agreed notion of consciousness (in relation to music or otherwise), this instability is something that might be best embraced rather than ‘resolved’. While the study of music and consciousness affirms the importance of the humanities, this is not to foreclose dialogue with scientific disciplines, even as this means maintaining awareness of how the different discursive formations of the humanities and sciences may connote different—and frequently incommensurable—sensibilities and values.