Philosophy & music theory

Estetica trascendentale in musica
La psicologia del suono di J. F. Herbart e C. Stumpf

Milano-Udine: Mimesis, 2012
ISBN 978-88-5751-480-2
Collana/Book series: Ricercare

Setting Kant’s ‘Transcendental Aesthetic’ into Music
J. F. Herbart’s and C. Stumpf’s Tone Psychology

Herbart and Stumpf wish to set Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic to music. They offer a genetical interpretation of Kant’s a priori intuition forms and replace transcendental investigation with scientific psychology. Forms – space, time, and musical relationships as well – stem from experience and their actual constitution can be psychologically accounted for. Herein lies the philosophical origin of Tonpsychologie. Tonal fusion represents a key concept in the explanation of sound and it undergoes significant change between Herbart and Stumpf. Moreover, fusion involves further issues within the context of their philosophical and psychological theories: the whole-part relationship, the functionalistic view of mind and phenomena, the Gestalt. A proof of the systematic background of Tonpsychologie casts considerable doubt on commonly accepted interpretations contrasting Herbart’s “atomism” to Stumpf’s alleged “gestaltism”. The historical and theoretical import of Herbart’s and Stumpf’s investigations turns out to be more complex than usually admitted and opens to multiple developments. Such are the contributions of Herbart’s pupil Drobisch on tuning systems and his pitch helix illustrating basic harmonic relationships. These can be considered as a subsequent stage in the psychological recognition of musical structures, mediating between Herbart and Stumpf in the theoretical discussion concerning experience forms.

A Summary in English is delivered at pp. 241–249.

Review: Bettetini, M. (2013, March 31, p. 24). Musica trascendentale: Immanuel ora suona meglio. Il Sole 24 ore. Supplemento Domenica, 89