THE BIAS OF “MUSIC-INFECTED CONSCIOUSNESS”: THE AESTHETICS OF LISTENING IN THE LABORATORY AND ON THE CITY STREETS OF FIN-DE-SIÈCLE BERLIN AND VIENNA

Authors

  • ALEXANDRA E. HUI


Abstract

Shifts in the psychophysical study of sound sensation reinforced the changing status of musical expertise in the nineteenth century. The Carl Stumpf-Wilhelm Wundt debate about tone-differentiation experimentation narrowed the conception of hearing. For Stumpf, “music consciousness” (Musikbewusstsein) granted the experimental subjects exceptional insight into sound sensation. This belief reflected a cultural reevaluation of listening, exemplified in music critic Eduard Hanslick decrying the scourge of the city: the piano playing of the neighbors. Stumpf and Hanslick's defenses of subjective musical expertise both inside the laboratory and on the city streets reveal the increasingly divergent conceptions of hearing and listening.

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