Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Philosophy of music, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, presides over a relatively narrow range of field-specific ontological and metaphysical questions. I claim that a focus on classical music and a reliance on analogies to the plastic arts constitutes an unhelpful (but pervasive) methodology in philosophy of music, one that stands in tension with its purported aim of accurately accounting for “the ways we talk, think, and act” in relation to music and musical works (Rohrbaugh 2003, 179). While philosophers of music explicitly aim to describe praxis, a significant gap exists between existing theory and ordinary musical experiences. To work toward closing the praxis-theory gap that exists in traditional philosophy of music I claim that music is an activity or relational mode, and that musical works are best understood as types of relationships constituted by musicking activities; I call this position the Intercorporeal Account.Philosophers of music almost universally treat musical works as objects. The Intercorporeal Account relies on work in queer theory, extended musical cognition, phenomenology, and philosophy of music to argue that music is a corporeal activity that produces relationships, not objects. At its heart, the Intercorporeal Account works toward centering the often philosophically underexplored aspects of musical engagement; what would it look like to begin a serious discussion of music with Alf Gabrielsson’s (2011) claim that “music is much more than just music”? I argue that the Intercorporeal Account best describes music’s extraordinary role in ordinary life, the way that music becomes an integral part of personal identity, and our deeply affectively or emotionally charged experiences of specific works.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Included in

Aesthetics Commons