Two Concepts of Groove: Musical Nuances, Rhythm, and Genre

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 80 (3):345-354 (2022)
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Groove, as a musical quality, is an important part of jazz and pop music appreciative practices. Groove talk is widespread among musicians and audiences, and considerable importance is placed on generating and appreciating grooves in music. However, musicians, musicologists, and audiences use groove attributions in a variety of ways that do not track one consistent underlying concept. I argue that that there are at least two distinct concepts of groove. On one account, groove is ‘the feel of the music’ and, on the other, groove is the psychological feeling (induced by music) of wanting to move one’s body. Further, I argue that recent work in music psychology shows that these two concepts do not converge on a unified set of musical features. Finally, I also argue that these two concepts play different functional roles in the appreciative practices of jazz and popular music. This should cause us to further consider the mediating role genre plays for aesthetic concepts and provides us with reason for adopting a more communitarian approach to aesthetics which is attentive to the ways in which aesthetic discourse serves the practices of different audiences.

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Evan Malone
Lone Star College


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