Ordinary Expression and Musical Expressiveness

María José Alcaraz León


A general assumption embedded in different approaches to musical expressiveness has been to accept that ordinary expression is the paradigm or the reference phenomenon for explaining other forms of (artistic) expression and in particular musical expressiveness. This has led to an attempt to find a relationship between ordinary expression and musical expressiveness that can account for why we find expressive features or content in things such as symphonies, sonatas and other forms of musical composition. In this paper I argue for the idea that musical expressiveness does not necessarily have to be understood in terms of, or by drawing an analogy to, ordinary expression. Rather, I will try, first, to defend the idea that musical expressiveness could be conceived on a continuum with ordinary expression. Secondly, I will try to show that this understanding of musical expressiveness can make more sense of the way in which some features of musical expressiveness may pass on ordinary expressiveness and enrich its repertoire.


ordinary expression; musical expressiveness; music and language; community of expression

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Aisthesis-14105

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