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Durham University



Publication details for Professor Martyn Evans

Evans, H. M. (2018). Music in body and imagination. In The Oxford Handbook of Music and the Body. Kim, Youn & Gilman, Sander Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Author(s) from Durham


Music is widely thought to have therapeutic possibilities. The predominant attempts to understand music-as-therapy focus on “how it works.”. This readily leads to reductionist accounts that appear to leave out an understanding of musical experience—and of the metaphysics of music—that takes seriously the imagination and the will as well as the body. One way to approach this is through considering another side of musical experience—its sometimes intrusive, disruptive appearances (including musical hallucinosis), and the connections that these reveal between imagined sound, the sensations of bodily movement, restlessness, and anxiety. This approach can lead to an alternative, more “existential,” view of music-as-therapy whereby musical experience, operating through the imagination, recalls the sense of “premorbid states”—offering both consolation and reassurance. The account may have relevance to a wider understanding of musical experience beyond the therapeutic context.