Browsing Institute for Christian Studies by Publisher "University of Toronto Press"
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A Different Tenor: Songs of Love and Sorrow--Re-Engaging the Social Ethics of MusicThe question of how music relates to our existence as ethical beings has not always elicited the same response. For much of the twentieth century, the relation between music and ethics was addressed from the angle of music's autonomy. Music was fenced off from society so that it might better fulfill its own internal demands. Thus, in answer to the question whether music has, or should have, an ethical dimension, the predominating philosophical answer of the twentieth century was solidly negative. The article that follows, a response to this negative point of view, reproduces a panel discussion that took place in April 2010 during a conference entitled "Songs of Love and Sorrow: Re-Engaging the Social Ethics of Music." Co-organized by the Institute for Christian Studies, the Toronto School of Theology, and the Royal Conservatory of Music, the conference attempted to bring to the musical arts a concern to re-evaluate the social significance of artistic experience and practice. Though not argued like an essay, the article highlights significant themes about the relationship of music to ethics, including the innately social character of music, its possible effect on our behaviour, the potential social content of sound itself, the positive social effect of music's ambiguity, the need to break down the barriers between music practitioners and interpreters, the role communities might play in sponsoring the work of musicians, and the possible compatibility between music's formal requirements and its potential for social engagement.