Music and mind

This work was done in collaboration with a musical analyst, Tethys Carpenter. Our belief is that most of the approaches made by psychologists to the question of what music is ignore or grossly mishandle issues such as the meaning of music. We favour the Platonic concept that in some sense as yet to be determined music does have innate meaning. A suggestive idea is Schoenberg's proposal that music (in someone's mind rather than in the air) has properties akin to those of life. Following this idea up, we find there are deep parallels which are expansions of Dawkins' gene/meme parallel. So in some sense yet to be elaborated in detail we can visualise the essential components of a piece of music as working in the mind in a similar way to the way genes (coherent DNA sequences) work to trigger off specific processes for life. As far as it is valid, this idea could explain many of the mysteries of music.

  1. Paper presented at the
    Kaiserslautern Conference on self-organisation
  2. What can Music tell us about the Nature of the Mind? A Platonic Model (paper presented at The First Tucson Conference on Consciousness)
  3. Musical Mountains (letter in New Scientist on the question of whether a piece of music 'really exists')