On Music

By Theodore Gracyk

© 2013 – Routledge

152 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415807784
pub: 2013-05-28
US Dollars$33.95
Hardback: 9780415807777
pub: 2013-05-21
US Dollars$125.00

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About the Book

Opinionated and example-filled, this extremely concise and accessible book provides a survey of some fundamental and longstanding debates about the nature of music. The central arguments and ideas of historical and contemporary philosophers are presented with the goal of making them as accessible as possible to general readers who have no background in philosophy. The emphasis is on instrumental music, but examples are drawn from many cultures as well as from Western classical, jazz, folk, and popular music.


This is a great introduction to the philosophy of music – accessible yet sophisticated and comprehensive – that is distinguished by the range and variety of musical examples with which it illustrates the issues.

Stephen Davies, University of Auckland

Ted Gracyk’s On Music is the best brief overview there is of the core philosophical questions about music. It’s a great introduction to philosophy for music-lovers, packed with a wide range of pertinent musical examples, from birdsong to bluegrass, Romanticism to ragas. And for those already familiar with the questions it is a rare opportunity to see how a philosopher at the top of his game sees one set of answers hanging together – a unified vision of the nature and value of music.

Andrew Kania, Trinity University

"Gracyk writes clearly and cogently, in a philosopher’s idiom, about what is important about music. [He] supports his argument with copious examples from Western classical, folk, jazz, blues , pop, and Hindustani music. Summing Up: Recommended."

J.M Carvalho, Villanova University, in Choice

Table of Contents

Preface Chapter 1 More Than Meets the Ear: Music and Art Chapter 2 With and Without Words: Listening with Understanding Chapter 3 Music and Emotion Chapter 4 The Siren Voice of Transcendence References Index

About the Author

Theodore Gracyk is Department Chair and Professor of Philosophy at Minnesota State University Moorhead

About the Series

Thinking in Action

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Thinking in Action
is a major series that takes philosophy to its public. Each book in the series is written by a major international philosopher or thinker, engages with an important contemporary topic, and is clearly and accessibly written. The series informs and sharpens debate on topics as wide ranging as the internet, religion, the problem of immigration and refugees and the way we think about science. Punchy, short, and stimulating, Thinking in Action is an indispensable series of books for anyone who wants to think seriously about major issues confronting us today.

Edited by Simon Critchley, New School University, USA and Richard Kearney, Boston College, USA

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / History & Criticism
PHILOSOPHY / Aesthetics