Music, empathy and cultural understanding

Wednesday 29 October 2014, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor Eric Clarke

Music affords intense experiences of both the most individual and massively communal kind, and brings together – or exploits – diverse cultures and histories. It is not uncommon to encounter claims for music’s capacity to overcome cultural difference, and to break down barriers of ethnicity, age, social class, and physical and psychological ill health. Recently, a broad notion of empathy has gained considerable attention and currency across musicology, music psychology, the sociology of music and ethnomusicology as a way to conceptualize a whole range of affiliative and identity-constructing capacities in relation to music. This paper considers the disparate nature of the evidence for the claims about music and empathy across a range of theories and findings, and presents a recent empirical study that focuses on one aspect of this relationship.

Location: I/D003