This is the first comprehensive book-length introduction to the philosophy of Western music that fully integrates consideration of popular music and hybrid musical forms, especially song. Its author, Andrew Kania, begins by asking whether Bob Dylan should even have been eligible for the Nobel Prize in Literature, given that he is a musician. This motivates a discussion of music as an artistic medium, and what philosophy has to contribute to our thinking about music. Chapters 2-5 investigate the most commonly defended sources of musical value: its emotional power, its form, and specifically musical features (such as pitch, rhythm, and harmony). In chapters 6-9, Kania explores issues arising from different musical practices, particularly work-performance (with a focus on classical music), improvisation (with a focus on jazz), and recording (with a focus on rock and pop). Chapter 10 examines the intersection of music and morality. The book ends with a consideration of what, ultimately, music is.

Key Features

    • Uses popular-song examples throughout, but also discusses a range of musical traditions (notably, rock, pop, classical, and jazz)
    • Explains both philosophical and musical terms when they are first introduced
    • Provides publicly accessible Spotify playlists of the musical examples discussed in the book
    • Each chapter begins with an overview and ends with questions for testing comprehension and stimulating further thought, along with suggestions for further reading

chapter 1|28 pages

Song and the Medium of Music

chapter 2|38 pages

Emotions in the Music

chapter 3|30 pages

Emotions in the Listener

chapter 4|32 pages

Musical Understanding

chapter 5|28 pages

The Value of Music

chapter 6|22 pages


chapter 7|25 pages


chapter 8|18 pages


chapter 9|28 pages


chapter 10|28 pages

Music and Morality

chapter 11|31 pages

The Definition of Music