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Music: Its Expressive Power and Moral Significance
Musical Offerings
  • Sarah Whitfield, Cedarville University
  • Musical expression,
  • emotion
Publication Date
The creation and practice of music is tightly wound with human emotion, character, and experience. Music arouses sentiment and cannot be underestimated as a powerful shaper of human virtue, character, and emotion. As vehicles of musical expression, musicians possess the ability to profoundly influence an audience for good or for evil. Thus, the nature of music and the manner in which musicians utilize it creates innumerable ramifications that cannot be ignored. The pervasiveness of this notion is largely attributed to the Greek theorists, who ascribed various emotions and moral implications to particular modes. The prominent Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle affirmed that music contained an intrinsic element that was conducive to the promotion of moral or spiritual harmony and order in the soul. Plato and his contemporaries attributed specific character-forming qualities to each of the individual harmonia, or musical modes, believing that each could shape human character in a distinct way. These ideas inevitably persisted and continue to endure. Theorists throughout history have agreed that music profoundly influences human character and shapes morality.

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Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0
Citation Information
Sarah Whitfield. "Music: Its Expressive Power and Moral Significance" (2010)
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