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2012 | 2 | 11-23

Article title

Czy rozumienie muzyki zależy od świadomego śledzenia struktur formalnych utworu? Jerrold Levinson i Peter Kivy wobec problemu doświadczenia muzycznego


Title variants

Does musical understanding depend upon refl ective awareness of large-scale musical structure? Jerrold Levinson versus Peter Kivy and the problem of musical experience

Languages of publication



Does musical understanding depend upon refl ective awareness of large-scale musical structure? Jerrold Levinson, in his brilliant book Music in the Moment, rejects this notion and defends the view that musical comprehension is fundamentally a matter of individual momentary impressions. In other words, understanding music is a matter of moment-by-moment absorption of individual bits of music. Levinson calls this perspective ‘concatenationism’. This perspective helps to defend music lovers who are passionate and attentive, yet structurally unconcerned. On the other hand, Peter Kivy, in his distinctively elegant style, defends the structuralist position, as it contributes a substantial part of the satisfaction derived from classical music. My aim in this article is to present the main strands of that passionate controversy between Kivy and Levinson.


  • Uniwersytet Gdański, Wydział Nauk Społecznych


  • Chęćka-Gotkowicz Anna, Dysonanse krytyki. O ocenie wykonania dzieła muzycznego, Gdańsk 2008.
  • Gurney Edmund, The Power of Sound, New York 1966.
  • Kivy Peter, Music Alone. Philosophical Reflections on the Purely Musical Experience, Ithaca and London 1990.
  • Kivy Peter, New Essays on Musical Understanding, Oxford 2001.
  • Levinson Jerrold, Music in the Moment, Ithaca and London 1997.
  • Scruton Roger, The Aesthetics of Music, Oxford 1999.
  • Tillmann Barbara, Bigand Emmanuel, The Relative Importance of Local and Global Structures in Music Perception, „The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism” 2004, nr 62 (2), s. 211–222.

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Publication order reference


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