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

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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.


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Reybrouck, M. (2019). Experience as cognition: musical sense-making and the ‘in-time/ outside-of-time’ dichotomy. Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology, (19), 53-80. https://doi.org/10.14746/ism.2019.19.4
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 actually
emeritus professor at the University of Leuven and guest professor at Ghent University. His interests
are 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-making
with a major focus on musical semantics and biosemiotics as applied to music and music and brain
studies. 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 to
dealing with music. Besides this theoretical work, he has been involved in empirical research on
representational and metarepresentational strategies in music-listening tasks. He published a lot of
papers in internationally reviewed scientific journals and book chapters. He is also author and editor
of several books about listening strategies and cognitive strategies for dealing with music as well as
edited volumes on musical semiotics and music and brain studies. His most recent contributions
cover the field of embodied and enactive cognition and the domains of neuroaesthetics and neuroplasticity
as applied to music.


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