Music and Ethical Responsibility

Book cover

My book, entitled Music and Ethical Responsibility published by Cambridge University Press, is now out!

The research question that is common to all of my work is: how does music affect the ways people interact? This book explores this question directly. In a nutshell, it explores the ethical responsibilities that arise in musical experience. Using a phenomenological approach, I argue that all musical experience involves encounters with other people. Drawing upon the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, I also argue that ethical responsibilities arise in encounters with others. So, what are the ethical responsibilities that arise in musical experience? That is what I explore in the book, using case studies ranging from improvisation to ‘other people’s music’ to noise along the way. To dig into this question, I explore a range of topics including: musical meaning, musical experience, and inherited ideas of music and morality. Below is the table of contents.

Here are some links to publisher descriptions and previews:
* Book page at Cambridge University Press
* Google books

Music and Ethical Responsibility

Jeff R. Warren, PhD


Chapter One : Meaning and Ethics in Music

  • Five Models of Musical Meaning​
    1. Meaning ‘in the music’​
    2. In the ear of the beholder​
    3. Interpreting what is heard​
    4. The influence of culture​
    5. Music, ethics, responsibility
  • Applications of Ethics to Music​
    1. It’s ‘just music​’
    2. But that piece was written by an anti-Semite!​
    3. I am a musical genius! Listen to me!​
    4. Look at how well the string section gets along​
    5. Music, ethics​, responsibility

Chapter Two : Experiencing Music

  • See those neurons firing? That must explain everything​
  • Phenomenology and Music​
  • Historically Effected Listening​
  • Musical Meaning and Appropriateness​
  • Negotiating Appropriateness​ and Ethical Responsibility

    Chapter Three : Framing Elements of Musical Experience

  • Framing Texts and Categories​
  • Historical Reception and Interpretation​
  • Acoustic Surroundings​
  • Embodied Acts

    Chapter Four : Improvisation and Ethical Responsibility

  • The Attraction of Improvisation​
  • The Problem of Applying Improvisation to Social Relationships​
  • What is Improvisation?​
  • Negotiating Contingencies

    Chapter Five : Musical Improvisation as Festival

  • Festival has shared intention​
  • Festival has contingencies negotiated through improvisation​
  • Festival as playing-along-with​
  • The togetherness of the temporal occasion of festival​
  • The interpretive meaning making of togetherness​

    Chapter Six : Music, Proximity, Ethics

  • Sound and Proximity​
  • Art-Religion and Ethical Responsibilities to Music​
  • Levinas and Criticism​
  • Secularized Art-Religion​
  • The Trace of the Other in the Experience of Music​

    Chapter Seven : Ethical Responsibility and Other People’s Music

  • Performing other people’s music​
  • Other people’s noise​
  • Music as Social Regulation​

    Conclusion: Ethical Responsibility in Musical Experience


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