Marta Quiñones – Music, sound and the anthropology of emotions

15 March 2019
Universitat de Barcelona (Spain)

WHO: Marta García Quiñones, Independent Researcher

The centrality of emotions (or feelings, or affect) in music and sound can hardly be underestimated, though for centuries much more attention has been devoted to what we may call their “production side”, that is how particular feelings may be invoked or expressed by musicians, than to their “reception side”, that is the feelings experienced by audiences or whoever is exposed to music. However, in this century, in parallel to the increasing presence of music in everyday life, often as part of audiovisual products, an interest in the emotions induced by music and sound has developed, particularly among music psychologists and researchers into the neurobiology of music. Universalist notions of (basic) music emotions, like those advocated by Stefan Koelsch and his research team (Fritz et al., 2009), have found resonance, also with public opinion. For that reason it may be productive to turn our attention to the social constructivist approach to emotions developed mainly by anthropologists since the 1970s (Plamper, 2015). In this presentation I will briefly summarize the main tenets of the anthropology of emotions and will address how both approaches have dealt in contrasting ways with the roles of the body and language in emotions. I will also consider how an anthropology of sound may find ways to discuss the emotions experienced in audition without leaving either language or the body out.

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