Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 August 2019
In one form or another, a critical discourse on the merit, the emotional/moral impact and the structural coherence of the art of sounds in its manifold manifestations and modes of fruition (individual works, genres and their social affiliations, performance, musical taste, the act of listening, etc.) has existed in Western culture since the origins of Western music. As Fred Everett Maus points out, the very act of assembling tones to create a melody implies a conscious act of self-criticism on the part of the musician. In this broad sense, music criticism is closely aligned to music theory: as early as in ancient Greek culture, the awareness of the affective power of organised sound upon listeners led to forms of musical ‘science’ that offered meticulous quantifications of the structures of musical pitch (such as scales, intervals, proportions, temperament, etc.) in conjunction with a consideration of the psychological and social effects of those same structures.
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