Experience as cognition: musical sense-making and the ‘in-time/ outside-of-time’ dichotomy

Main Article Content

Mark Reybrouck


Musical sense-making relies on two distinctive strategies: tracking the moment-to-moment history of the actual unfolding and recollecting actual and previous sounding events in a kind of synoptic overview. Both positions are not opposed but complement each other. The aim of this contribution, therefore, is to provide a comprehensive framework that provides both conceptual and operational tools for coping with the sounds. Five major possibilities are proposed in this regard: (i) the concepts of perspective and resolution, which refer to the distance the listener takes with respect to the sounding music and the fine-grainedness of his/her discriminative abilities; (ii) the continuous/discrete dichotomy which conceives of the music as one continuous flow as against a division in separate and distinct elements; (iii) the in time/outside-of-time distinction, with the former proceeding in real time and the latter proceeding outside of the time of unfolding; (iv) the deictic approach to musical sense-making, which conceives of an act of mental pointing to the music, and (v) the levels of processing, which span a continuum between primitive sensory reactivity to actual sounding stimuli and high-level symbolic processing.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Biogram autora

Mark Reybrouck, Musicology Research Group, Faculty of Arts, KU Leuven-University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium IPEM, Department of Art History, Musicology and Theatre Studies, Ghent, Belgium

Mark Reybrouck – studied physical education, physical therapy and musicology. He is actuallyemeritus professor at the University of Leuven and guest professor at Ghent University. His interestsare interdisciplinary in their claims with an attempt to bring together insights from the fields of psychology,biology, semiotics and music. His actual research agenda concerns musical sense-makingwith a major focus on musical semantics and biosemiotics as applied to music and music and brainstudies. At a theoretical level he is involved in foundational work on music cognition and perception,especially the biological roots of musical epistemology and the embodied and enactive approach todealing with music. Besides this theoretical work, he has been involved in empirical research onrepresentational and metarepresentational strategies in music-listening tasks. He published a lot ofpapers in internationally reviewed scientific journals and book chapters. He is also author and editorof several books about listening strategies and cognitive strategies for dealing with music as well asedited volumes on musical semiotics and music and brain studies. His most recent contributionscover the field of embodied and enactive cognition and the domains of neuroaesthetics and neuroplasticityas applied to music.


  1. Abbate, C. (2004). Music—Drastic or Gnostic? Critical Inquiry, 30 (3), 505–536.
  2. Beer, R. (2000). Dynamical approaches to cognitive science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4(3), 91–99.
  3. Benzon, W. (2001). Beethoven’s Anvil. Music in Mind and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. Brandt, P. (2004). Spaces, Domains and Meanings. Essays in Cognitive Semiotics. Bern: Peter Lang.
  5. Bühler, K. (1982). The Deictic Field of Language and Deictic Words (Transl.) In R. Jarvella, &W. Klein (Eds.). Speech, Place and Action. Studies in Deixis and Related Topics (pp. 9–30). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
  6. Bühler, K. (1934). Sprachtheorie: Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache. Jena: Fischer.
  7. Cariani, P. (1997). Emergence of new signal-primitives in neural systems. Intellectica, 2(25), 95–143.
  8. Cariani, P. (2001). Symbols and dynamics in the brain. BioSystems, 60(1–3), 59–83. Special issue on‘Physics and evolution of symbols and codes’.
  9. Clark, A. (2011). Supersizing the Mind. Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  10. Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. (1998). The extended mind. Analyses, 58(1), 7–19.
  11. Clifton, T. (1983). Music as Heard: A Study in Applied Phenomenology. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  12. Cogan, R. (1984). New Images of Musical Sound. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  13. Cogan, R. & Escott, P. (1976). Sonic Design: The Nature of Sound and Music. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  14. Dainton, B. (2000). Stream of consciousness. London, UK: Routledge.
  15. Dainton, B. (2010). Temporal consciousness. The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, Fall 2010Edition. Internet Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2010/entries/consciousness-temporal/
  16. Dannenberg, R. (1997). Machine Tongues XIX: Nyquist, a Language for Composition and Sound Synthesis. Computer Music Journal, 21 (3), 50–60.
  17. Desantos, S. (1997). Acousmatic morphology: an interview with François Bayle. Computer MusicJournal, 21(3), 11–19.
  18. Dewey, J. (1925). Experience and nature. Chicago – London: Open Court Publishing Company.
  19. Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York: Minton, Balch.
  20. Diessel, H. (2006): Demonstratives, joint attention, and the emergence of grammar. Cognitive Linguistics, 17(4), 463–489.
  21. Dufourt, H. (1989). Musique et psychologie cognitive: les éléments porteurs de forme. In S. McAdams & I. Deliège (Eds.). La musique et les sciences cognitives (pp. 327–334). Liège – Bruxelles:Pierre Mardaga.
  22. Elliott, D. (1995). Music Matters. A New Philosophy of Music Education. New York: Oxford University Press.
  23. Fillmore, Ch. (1982). Towards a Descriptive Framework for Spatial Deixis. In R. Jarvella & W. Klein (Eds.). Speech, Place, and Action. Studies in Deixis and Related Topics (pp. 31–59). Chichester– New York: John Wiley.
  24. Gallagher, S. & Zahavi, D. (2008). The Phenomenological Mind. An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science. London – New York: Routledge.
  25. Gallagher, S., & Brøsted Sørensen, J. (2006). Experimenting with phenomenology. Consciousnessand Cognition, 15(1), 119–134.
  26. Gal’perin, P.I. (1992). Stage-By-Stage Formation as A Method of Psychological Investigation. Journalof Russian and East European Psychology, 30(4), 60–80.
  27. Gibson, J. (1966). The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems. London: Allen & Unwin.
  28. Gibson, J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston, Dallas, Geneva, Illinois:Hopewell – New Jersey, Palo Alto, London: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  29. Gibson, J. (1982). Reasons for Realism: Selected Essays of James J. Gibson. Reed, E. & Jones, R.(Eds.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  30. Godøy, R. I. (1997). Formalization and Epistemology. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.
  31. Grassmann, S. & Tomasello, M. (2009). Young children follow pointing over words in interpretingacts of reference. Developmental Science, 13(1), 252–263.
  32. Haeckel, E. (1988 [1866]). Generelle Morphologie des Organismus, Bd. 2: Allgemeine Entwicklungsgeschichte.Berlin: de Gruyter.
  33. Haenen, J. (2001). Outlining the teaching-learning process: Piotr Gal’perin’s contribution. Learningand Instruction, 11, 157–170.
  34. Hanks, W. (2005). Explorations in the Deictic Field? Current Anthropology, 46(2), 191–220.Helmuth, M. (1996). Multidimensional representation of electroacoustic music. Journal of New MusicResearch, 326 (25), 77–103.
  35. Husserl, E. (1928). Vorlesungen zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewußtseins. M. Heidegger (Ed.). Jahrbuch für Philosophie und Phänomenologische Forschung, 9, 367–489.
  36. Husserl, E. (2001). Logical Investigations I–II. Trans. J. N. Findlay. London: Routledge.
  37. Jack, A., & Roepstorff, A. (2003). Trusting the Subject? vol 1. Charlottesville, VA: Imprint Academic.
  38. James 1976 [1912]. Essays in Radical Empiricism. Cambridge MA – London: Harvard University Press.
  39. James, W. (1890). The Principles of Psychology. New York: Dover.
  40. Jankélévitch, V. (2003). Music and the Ineffable. (C. Abbate, Trans.). Trans. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press.
  41. Johnson, M. (2007). The Meaning of the Body. Aesthetics of Human Understanding. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  42. Kelly, S. (2005). The puzzle of temporal experience. In A. Brook & K. Akins (Eds.). Cognition and thebrain: The philosophy and neuroscience movement (pp. 208–238). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  43. Kerman, J. (1980). How we Got into Analysis, and How to Get out. Critical Inquiry, 7 (2), 311–331.
  44. Kerman, J. (1985). Contemplating music: challenges to musicology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  45. Kita, S. (2003). Pointing. Where Language, Culture, and Cognition Meet. Mahwah (N.J.): Erlbaum.
  46. Kühl, O. (2007). Musical semantics. Bern – Oxford: Peter Lang.
  47. Langacker, R. (1987). Foundations of cognitive grammar, vol. 1. Stanford CA: Stanford UniversityPress.
  48. Laske, O. (1977). Music, Memory and Thought. Explorations in Cognitive Musicology. Ann Arbor, Profess MI: University Microfilms International.
  49. Lazarus, R. & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.
  50. Leibniz, G. (1974). Dissertatio de Arte Combinatoria. In Opera philosophica quae extant Latina, Gallica, Germanica omnia. Aalen: Scientia.
  51. Le Van Quyen, M. (2010). Neurodynamics and Phenomenology in Mutual Enlightenment: the exampleof the epileptic aura. In J. Stewart, O. Gapenne, & E. Di Paolo (Eds.). Enaction. Toward aNew Paradigm for Cognitive Science (pp. 245–266). Cambridge (MA): The MIT Press.
  52. Lochhead, J. (1986). Phenomenological Approaches to the Analysis of Music: Report from Binghamton. Theory and Practice, 11, 9–13.
  53. Luhmann, N. (1990). Essays on self-reference. New York: Columbia University Press.Luhmann, N. (1995). Social systems. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  54. Lutz, A. (2002). Toward a neurophenomenology as an account of generative passages: a first empiricalcase study. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 1, 133–167.
  55. Lutz, A., Lachaux, J.-P., Martinerie, J., & Varela, F. (2002). Guiding the study of brain dynamics byusing first-person data: synchrony patterns correlate with ongoing conscious states during asimple visual task. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 99, 1586–1591.
  56. Lutz, A., & Thompson, E. (2003). Neurophenomenology: integrating subjective experience and braindynamics in the neuroscience of consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10, 31–52.
  57. Maturana, H. & Varela, F. (1980). Autopoiesis and cognition: the realization of the living. London: Reidel.
  58. McAdams, S. (1989). Contraintes psychologiques sur les dimensions porteuses de la forme. InS. McAdams & I. Deliège (Eds.). La musique et les sciences cognitives (pp. 257–280). Liège –Bruxelles: Pierre Mardaga.
  59. Menary, R. (2010). Cognitive integration and the extended mind. In R. Menary (Ed.). The extendedmind (pp. 227–243). Cambridge: The MIT Press.
  60. Meystel, A. (1998). Multiresolutional Umwelt: Towards a semiotics of neurocontrol. Semiotica, 120(3/4), 343–380.
  61. Nunberg, G. (1993). Indexicality and deixis. Linguistics and Philosophy, 16 (1), 1–43.
  62. Pask, G. (1961a). An Approach to Cybernetics. Science Today Series. New York: Harper & Brothers.
  63. Pask, G. (1961b). The cybernetics of evolutionary processes and of self-organizing systems. ThirdInternational Conference on Cybernetics. Namur, Belgium (1961), 27–74.
  64. Pask G. (1992). Different kinds of cybernetics. In van de Vijver, G. (Ed.). New perspectives on cybernetics:self-organization, autonomy and connectionism (pp. 11–31). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
  65. Pattee, H. (1979). The complementarity principle and the origin of macromolecular information.BioSystems, 11, 217–226.
  66. Petitot, J. (1989). Perception, cognition et objectivité morphologique. In S. McAdams & I. Deliège, I.(Eds.). La musique et les sciences cognitives (pp. 242–256). Liège – Bruxelles : Pierre Mardaga.
  67. Piaget, J. (1968). Le structuralisme. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
  68. Port, R., & Van Gelder, T. (1995). Mind as Motion: Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition.Cambridge, London: MIT Press.
  69. Prinz, W. & Chater, N. (2005). An Ideomotor Approach to Imitation. In S. Hurley (Ed.). Perspectiveson Imitation: From Neuroscience to Social Science. Vol.1: Mechanisms of imitation and imitationin animals (pp. 141–156). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  70. Reybrouck, M. (1998). Musical space. Mathematical bases and psychological constraints. MusicalPraxis 5 (1), 61–77.
  71. Reybrouck, M. (2001a). Biological roots of musical epistemology: Functional Cycles, Umwelt, andenactive listening. Semiotica, 134(1–4), 599–633.
  72. Reybrouck, M. (2001b), Musical Imagery between Sensory Processing and Ideomotor Simulation.In R. I. Godøy & H. Jörgensen (Eds.). Musical Imagery (pp. 117–136). Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger.
  73. Reybrouck, M. (2004). Music Cognition, Semiotics and the Experience of Time. Ontosemantical andEpistemological Claims. Journal of New Music Research, 33(4), 411–428.
  74. Reybrouck, M. (2005). A Biosemiotic and Ecological Approach to Music Cognition: Event Perceptionbetween Auditory Listening and Cognitive Economy. Axiomathes. An International Journal inOntology and Cognitive Systems, 15(2), 229–266.
  75. Reybrouck, M. (2008). The Musical Code between Nature and Nurture. In M. Barbieri (Ed.). TheCodes of Life: The Rules of Macroevolution (pp. 395–434). Springer: Dordrecht.
  76. Reybrouck, M. (2009a). An Experiential Approach to Musical Semantics: Deixis, Denotation andCognitive Maps. In J. Deely & L. Sbrocchi (Eds.). Semiotics 2008 (pp. 806–818). Ottawa: Legas.
  77. Reybrouck, M. (2009b). Similarity perception as a cognitive tool for musical sense-making: deicticand ecological claims. Musicæ Scientiæ, Discussion Forum 4B, 2009, 99–118.
  78. Reybrouck, M. (2012). Musical Sense-Making and the Concept of Affordance: An Ecosemiotic andExperiential Approach. Biosemiotics, 5 (3), 391–409.
  79. Reybrouck, M. (2013). Musical universals and the axiom of psychobiological equivalence.In J.-L. Leroy (Ed.). Topicality of Musical Universals/Actualité des Universaux musicaux (pp.31–44). Paris, France: Editions des Archives Contemporaines.
  80. Reybrouck, M. (2014). Musical sense-making between experience and conceptualisation: the legacyof Peirce, Dewey and James. Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology, 14, 176–205.
  81. Reybrouck, M. (2015a). Music as Environment: An Ecological and Biosemiotic Approach. BehavioralSciences, 5 (1), 1–26.
  82. Reybrouck, M. (2015b). Real-time listening and the act of mental pointing: deictic and indexicalclaims. Mind, Music, and Language, 2, 1–17.
  83. Reybrouck, M. (2016a). Music Shaped in Time: Musical Sense-making between Perceptual Immediacyand Symbolic Representation. RS∙SI (Recherches sémiotiques – Semiotic Inquiry, 36 (3),99–120.
  84. Reybrouck, M (2016b). Musical Information Beyond Measurement and Computation: Interaction,Symbol Processing and the Dynamic Approach. In P. Kostagiolas, K. Martzoukou, C. Lavranos(Eds). Trends in Music Information Seeking, Behavior, and Retrieval for Creativity (pp. 102–122). Hershey, US-PA: IGI-Global.
  85. Reybrouck, M. (2016c). The musical experience between measurement and computation: fromsymbolic description to morphodynamical approach. In G. Pareyon, E. Lluis-Puebla, O. Agustin-Aquino (Eds.). The Musical-Mathematical Mind: Patterns and Transformations(pp. 253–262). Berlin: Springer.
  86. Reybrouck, M. (2017a). Music and Semiotics: An Experiential Approach to Musical Sense-making. InA. Lopez-Varela Azcarate (Ed.). Interdisciplinary Approaches to Semiotics (pp. 73–93). Rijeka: InTech.
  87. Reybrouck, M. (2017b). Perceptual immediacy in music listening: multimodality and the ‘in time/outside of time’ dichotomy.’ Versus, 124 (1), 89–104.
  88. Reybrouck, M., & Eerola, T. (2017). Music and its inductive power: a psychobiological and evolutionaryapproach to musical emotions. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, art. nr. 494.
  89. Reybrouck, M. (2018–2019). Music as Environment: Biological and Ecological Constraints on Copingwith the Sounds. Recherches Sémiotiques – Semiotic Inquiry, 38 (3) and 39 (1–2), 19–35.
  90. Reybrouck, M. (forthcoming). Musical Sense-making: Enaction, Experience and Computation. NewYork – London: Routledge.
  91. Roeckelein, J. (2000). The Concept of Time in Psychology: A Resource Book and Annotated Bibliography.Westport – London: Greenwood Press.
  92. Sahler, O. & Carr, J. (2009). Coping Strategies. In O. Sahler, J. Carr, J. Frank, & J. Nunes (Eds.).The Behavioral Sciences and Health Care (pp. 491–496). Cambridge, MA – Göttingen: HogrefePublishing.
  93. Schiavio, A., van der Schyff, D., Cespedes-Guevara, J. & Reybrouck, M. (2017). Enacting musicalemotions. Sense-making, dynamic systems, and the embodied mind. Phenomenology and theCognitive Sciences, 16 (5), 785–809.
  94. Schubert, E. (2001). Continuous measurement of self-report emotional response to music. In P.Juslin & J. Sloboda (Eds.). Music and Emotion: Theory and Research (pp. 393–414). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  95. Schubert, E. (2004). Modeling Perceived Emotion With Continuous Musical Features. Music Perception:An Interdisciplinary Journal, 21 (4), 561–585.
  96. Schütz, A. (1971). Making Music Together. In Collected Works, II. (pp. 172–173). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
  97. Schütz, A. (1976). Fragments on the Phenomenology of music. In F. Kersten (Ed.). Music and Man,2, 5–71.
  98. Seemann, A. (2011.) Joint Attention: New Developments in Psychology, Philosophy of Mind andSocial Neuroscience. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.
  99. Sloboda, J. (2005). Exploring the Musical Mind. Cognition, Emotion, Ability, Function. Oxford:Oxford University Press.
  100. Smalley, D. (1997). Spectromorphology: explaining sound-shapes. Organized Sound 2 (2), 107–126.
  101. Stern, W. (1897). Psychische Präsenzzeit. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, XIII, 325–349.
  102. Tagg, Ph. (2013). Music’s meanings. A modern musicology for non-musos. New York & Huddersfield:The Mass Media Music Scholars’s Press.
  103. Thelen, E. (1995). Time-Scale Dynamics and the Development of an Embodied Cognition. In R. Port& T. Van Gelder (Eds.). Mind as Motion: Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition (pp. 69–100). Cambridge MA-London: MIT Press.
  104. Thelen, E., & Smith, L. (1994). A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition andAction. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
  105. Thom, R. (1980). Modèles mathématiques de la Morphogenèse. Paris: Bourgois.Thompson, E. (2007). Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind. Cambridge:Harvard University Press.
  106. Uttall, W. (1973). The Psychobiology of Sensory Coding. New York – Evanston – San Francisco –London: Harper & Row.
  107. Uttal, W. (1998). Toward a New Behaviorism. The Case Against Perceptual Reductionism. Mahwah (NJ) – London: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.
  108. van Gelder, T. (1998). The dynamical hypothesis in cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences,21 (05), 615–665.
  109. Varela, F. (1996). Neurophenomenology: a methodological remedy for the hard problem. Journal ofConsciousness Studies, 3, 330–350.
  110. Varela, F. (1999). The Specious Present: A Neurophenomenology of Time Consciousness. In J. Petitot,F. Varela, B. Pachoud, & J.-M. Roy (Eds.). Naturalizing Phenomenology: Issues in Contemporary Phenomenology and Cognitive Science (pp. 265–314). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  111. Varela, F. & Shear, J. (Eds.) (2002). The view from within. First-person approaches to the study ofconsciousness. Thorverton: Imprint Academic.
  112. von Foerster H. (Ed.). (1974). Cybernetics of cybernetics. Illinois: University of Illinois.
  113. von Foerster H. (1984). Observing systems. Seaside, CA: Intersystems Press.
  114. West, D. (2011). Deixis as a symbolic phenomenon. Linguistik online, 50 (6).
  115. Xenakis, I. (1965). La Voie de la recherche et de la question. Preuves, 177, 33–36.