Messages in Art and Music: On Route to Understanding Musical Works with Jerrold Levinson

Dialogue and Universalism 20 (3-4):97 (2010)
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In his article untitled Messages in Art Jerrold Levinson discusses the idea of a message behind a work of art. He argues that despite certain disclaimers put forward by artists it is „hard to deny that artworks (...) very often do have messages, and far from inexpressible ones”. From given examples it would seem that Levinson assumes that musical work just as other artworks sometimes generate messages and that in order for a work of music to be successful in expression this message should be comprehensible and certainly not incoherent. The author of this paper draws on Levinson's “Messages in Art” as well as his “Music as Narrative and Music as Drama” to explore further the issues mentioned above. In particular the author argues that seeing musical works through the message it may generate is somewhat reductive and that musical work as well as other artworks are prone to abiding by an aesthetic code and therefore even when they allow for interpretation in terms of messages or morals these messages are incoherent or vague at best.
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