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The Extravagance of Music

Authors: Brown, David, Hopps, Gavin

  • Discusses the power of music, and its ability to convey suggestions of the divine
  • Challenges the dominant approach to music
  • Offers a new methodological paradigm for thinking about the religious significance of music
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Buy this book

eBook £47.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-91818-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover £59.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-91817-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book explores the ways in which music can engender religious experience, by virtue of its ability to evoke the ineffable and affect how the world is open to us. Arguing against approaches that limit the religious significance of music to an illustrative function, The Extravagance of Music sets out a more expansive and optimistic vision, which suggests that there is an ‘excess’ or ‘extravagance’ in both music and the divine that can open up revelatory and transformative possibilities. In Part I, David Brown argues that even in the absence of words, classical instrumental music can disclose something of the divine nature that allows us to speak of an experience analogous to contemplative prayer. In Part II, Gavin Hopps contends that, far from being a wasteland of mind-closing triviality, popular music frequently aspires to elicit the imaginative engagement of the listener and is capable of evoking intimations of transcendence. Filled with fresh and accessible discussions of diverse examples and forms of music, this ground-breaking book affirms the disclosive and affective capacities of music, and shows how it can help to awaken, vivify, and sustain a sense of the divine in everyday life.


About the authors

David Brown is Emeritus Professor of Theology, Aesthetics and Culture, and Wardlaw Professor at the University of St Andrews, UK.

Gavin Hopps is Senior Lecturer in Literature and Theology at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts (ITIA), UK.



Reviews

“This extraordinarily wide-ranging book is like its subject: an excess of riches and a wander on the wild side. Theological reflection on music will never be the same again.” (Carol Harrison, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford University, UK)

“Brown and Hopps create a truly unique investigation into the power of creativity in music from a theological perspective that is both original and compelling. I have no doubt that this is one of the most serious texts, by experts in both theology and music, that attempts to unravel the deep secrets of a theological understanding of musical creation. It has forced me to constantly rethink my own journey as a composer.” (Paul Mealor, OStJ, Composer and Professor of Composition, University of Aberdeen, UK)

“In this timely and fascinating book, Brown and Hopps argue persuasively that music—both in its form and in the event of listening, in wordless and ‘secular’ works as well as those with deliberate religious associations, and through popular genres just as much as high art—can ‘lead us to the edge of the infinite,’ providing a place not only of religious encounter but also divine revelation. Essential reading for anyone interested in the relationship between theology and the meaning-making possibilities of music.” (Maggi Dawn, Associate Professor of Theology and Literature, Yale Divinity School, USA)

“When I read this book, I was reminded of Faber’s fine hymn ‘There’s wideness in God’s mercy.’ In the face of literature that would limit the revelation of the Divine in music to a few musical works of a particular style with an approved theology, it widens the scope of the spiritual in music to include the musicker as well as the sound of the music itself. It opens up the possibility that a variety of musics can generate a transcendent experience, depending on the musical experience and preferences of the musicker. In this book God is seen as extravagantly generous with grace which cannot be limited in its scope. I recommend it heartily for anyone interested in music and the spiritual; it will challenge and intrigue them.” (June Boyce-Tillman, MBE, Professor of Applied Music, University of Winchester, UK)

“David Brown and Gavin Hopps have given us a wise and wide-ranging treatment of the possibilities of music as a mediator of the divine. Opposing the reductionism of both ‘catechetical’ religious approaches and secularist exclusions of the sacred, they provide cogent arguments for the positive significance of music for awareness of God. The authors place their topics within the large context of theological and especially musical aesthetics, but they are not content with the general observations that frequently characterize theological treatments of music. They invite us to recognize the possibility of musical experiences of different kinds and levels of depth that can reveal varied but complementary aspects of divine encounter. Avoiding simplistic positions, the authors explicitly take into account the inevitable social and individual contexts that condition all experiences. But they argue effectively that within such contexts, for those disposed, truly revelatory moments through music are possible and real.” (Richard Viladesau, Professor Emeritus, Fordham University, New York, USA)

“As a music therapist one of the most common things people say to me is ‘music takes me somewhere else’ or ‘music is spiritual for me.’ Such music may be Bach, The Grateful Dead, or a spontaneous improvisation. The relationship between music and spirituality is a very contemporary concern, and this timely and important book addresses a key imbalance in the growing interdisciplinary literature. To date studies of the relationship between spirituality and music have tended to focus exclusively on high art music as the paradigm case of music as a transcendent experience. Brown and Hopps re-balance this outdated picture with a more ‘horizontal’ and hospitable perspective—thinking across the classical and popular traditions, and presenting a view of how music conceived within everyday experience and action can better help us explore the links between immanence and transcendence. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in these key contemporary concerns.” (Gary Ansdell, Research Associate, Nordoff Robbins, UK)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

  • Introduction: An Art Open to the Divine

    Brown, David (et al.)

    Pages 1-29

  • A Generous Excess

    Brown, David (et al.)

    Pages 35-80

  • Types of Extravagance

    Brown, David (et al.)

    Pages 81-131

  • Discovering God in Music’s Excess

    Brown, David (et al.)

    Pages 133-160

  • Cultured Despisers

    Brown, David (et al.)

    Pages 167-227

Buy this book

eBook £47.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-91818-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover £59.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-91817-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Extravagance of Music
Authors
Copyright
2018
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-91818-1
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-91818-1
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-91817-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXV, 325
Topics