Is there an Ontological Musical Common Sense?

Marcello Ruta


The more or less explicitly formulated identification between ordinary beliefs about music and musical common sense is one of the key assumptions of the descriptivist party of ontology of music. The assumed commonsensical status of such beliefs is what confers on them a sort of “preliminary authority” in the formulation of any descriptivist ontology of music. This article intends to criticize this identification and to cast into doubt the very existence of a musical common sense, at least in relation to ontological questions. This endeavour entails a short analysis of the notion of common sense and an examination of some key notions of musical ontology, traditionally considered as commonsensical ones, which will be shown to be historically and culturally conditioned, and therefore far from exhibiting a commonsensical status.


commonsense; descriptivism; creditability; ordinary beliefs; musical Work

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