Bicknell Study Guide


Bicknell, Why Music Moves Us, Chapters 5 & 6

  • What are the reductive strategies, as Bicknell terms them, that are used to explain strong emotional responses to music?


  • Why does Bicknell find these explanations inadequate?


  • What did Descartes mean when he said that music stimulates our “animal spirits”?


  • What is the role of cognition in musical experience?


  • What does it mean to “hear backwards”?


  • Why, according to Bicknell, is it significant that music is fundamentally a social experience?


  • Do you agree that there is no “private” musical experience?  Why or why not?


  • What are the implications of Bicknell’s claim that “systems of musical meaning are conventional” (90)?


  • How does Bicknell defend her characterization of music as social from the objection that music is an escape from the social?


  • How does music contribute to social bonding?


  • What are the effects of music on the brain and why does Bicknell find these effects significant?


  • Can encounters with music be intimate?


  • How our relationships with music similar to friendships with people?


  • How does music facilitate intimacy with ourselves?

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