Susanne Langer on Music and Time

Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 58 (1):35-56 (2021)
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Abstract

Susanne Langer’s idea of the primary apparition of music involves a dichotomy between two kinds of temporality: ‘felt time’ and ‘clock time’. For Langer, musical time is exclusively felt time, and in this sense, music is ‘time made audible’. However, Langer also postulates a ‘strong suspension thesis’: the swallowing up of clock time in the illusion of felt time. In this essay, we take issue with the ‘strong suspension thesis’, its philosophic foundation and its implications. We argue that this thesis is overstated and misdirecting insofar as it purports to describe what we experience when we hear music with understanding, and that it rests on a contested presupposition concerning the conceptual primacy of memory-time.

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Eran Guter
Max Stern Yezreel Valley College

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