Today, The Outline published my article, “You Don’t Need Science to Tell You Why You Like a Song.” This essay is like a companion piece to one of the first posts on this blog, “Science Proves Your Favorite Music is the Best.” My earlier post explored how classical music media outlets tend to be self-congratulatory about scientific studies involving classical music. Since The Outline doesn’t focus on classical music, though, I wrote about why we place so much emphasis on scientific (or scientistic) studies of music in the first place. I still mention the Mozart Effect, but I pair it with a ridiculous formula that claims to have determined the “10 most uplifting songs ever,” which are astonishingly all Dad Rock Standards. Here’s a preview:
Art for art’s sake seems frivolous, especially in a culture dominated by the Protestant Work Ethic — but if aesthetic experiences can be shown to improve the bottom line somehow, they become acceptable. It’s not enough to say that some people find some music motivating, or relaxing, or comforting; the music must be dissected to find exactly what makes it so, so that those components can be isolated, harnessed, and put to work. This kind of utilitarianism disregards context and cannot accommodate ambiguity.
I have another guest post coming up soon (the one I’d mentioned earlier about myths surrounding Beethoven’s deafness), and after that I hope to have something purely for this blog. We have a lot to look forward to in 2017!