Music and Ethical Responsibility

Music and Ethical Responsibility

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Discussions surrounding music and ethical responsibility bring to mind arguments about legal ownership and purchase. Yet the many ways in which we experience music with others are usually overlooked. Musical experience and practice always involve relationships with other people, which can place limitations on how we listen to and act upon music. In Music and Ethical Responsibility, Jeff R. Warren challenges current approaches to music and ethics, drawing upon philosopher Emmanuel Levinas's theory that ethics is the responsibilities that arise from our encounters with other people. Warren examines ethical responsibilities in musical experiences including performing other people's music, noise, negotiating musical meaning, and improvisation. Revealing the diverse roles that music plays in the experience of encountering others, Warren argues that musicians, researchers, and listeners should place ethical responsibility at the heart of musical practices.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 5 b/w illus.
  • 1139899287
  • 9781139899284

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Meaning and ethics in music; 2. Experiencing music; 3. Framing elements of musical experience; 4. Improvisation and ethical responsibility; 5. Musical improvisation as festival; 6. Music, proximity, ethics; 7. Ethical responsibility and other people's music; Conclusion: ethical responsibility in musical experience.
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Review quote

'... it has altered my perceptions of musical experience and perhaps it will challenge yours as well.' Erik W. Goldstrom, The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians
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About Jeff R. Warren

Jeff R. Warren is Tutor of Music and Humanities at Quest University in Squamish, British Columbia. He has a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London. Before moving to Quest in 2013, he spent nine years at Trinity Western University, where he retains the title of Adjunct Professor of Music and Interdisciplinary Arts. His research areas include music and ethics, improvisation, soundscape, and phenomenology. He is also a jazz bassist and sound artist, and was commissioned to create a sound sculpture for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. His research project 'The Ethics of Timbre: Phenomenology, Spectralism, and two Levinas's', is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. More can be found on his website at
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