The Journal of Sonic Studies
Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 2, nr. 1 (May 2012)Joshua Banks Mailman: SEVEN METAPHORS FOR (MUSIC) LISTENING: DRAMaTIC

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This essay probes the nature of listening by refusing to pin it down to a single essence. The epistemological value of metaphor is explained in terms of the cognitive metaphor and embodied mind theories of Lakoff and Johnson as well as the philosophies of Rorty and Fiumara. Then the various natures of listening are explained via seven metaphors: (1) Digestion, (2) Recording, (3) Adaptation, (4) Meditation, (5) Transport, (6) Improvisation, and (7) Computation. As a positive example, this set of metaphors promotes recognition of the inherent plurality of listening by staking out distinct facets which cannot be reduced to one another. This irreducibility is made more vivid and conceptually manageable by associating each of these facets with more concrete activities that are literally irreducible, or indeed seemingly unrelated. Moreover, some of these metaphors suggest the complementary and sometimes interdependent nature of diverse aspects of listening.