Judging Music: Roger Scruton
Music lovers are constantly confronted with the question how we might judge between different music styles – from classical music to hip-hop. Are there principles of musical criticism, and if so, do they apply to all forms of music or merely to some?
Music has been a vital part of Western civilisation from ancient times, with a role to play in religion, courtship and domestic life that has profoundly affected the nature of our societies. The growth of listening, as a distinct posture with distinct rewards, encouraged the emergence of music from the church and the private home into the concert hall. And around the concert hall has grown a repertoire that many consider to be one of the greatest artistic achievements of humanity. Increasingly, however, other musics have arisen in competition with the classical tradition - musics that are not always to be listened to, rather than danced to or heard in the background. However, music lovers are constantly confronted with the question how we might judge between the sounds by which we are now surrounded. Are there principles of musical criticism, and if so, do they apply to all forms of music or merely to some? Is there any way that we can compare hip-hop with Indie music, or string quartets with Heavy Metal, and come up with a judgement that discriminates between them? And anyway, why does it matter?
Roger Scruton is a philosopher and a writer. He has specialized in aesthetics throughout his career. In 1972, he completed a Ph. D. in philosophy at Cambridge University, with a thesis on aesthetics, which formed the basis of his first book Art and Imagination. Nowadays, he is resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University. Scruton has written over 30 books, including The Aesthetics of Music (1997), A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism (2006), Beauty (2009), Green Philosophy (2012) and Our Church (2012). Scruton has also written a number of general textbooks on philosophy and culture, two novels, and composed two operas.
The Griph-lecture is the annual lecture of the Groningen Institute of Philosophy. This lecture is organized by the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Groningen, in cooperation with Studium Generale Groningen.