Qualia and Conceptual Blending: Another Structure of Music


Session Title:

  • New Art Theory

Presentation Title:

  • Qualia and Conceptual Blending: Another Structure of Music



  • We would like to show what huge potential resides, for the foundation of a musical analysis concept, in phenomenal consciousness (qualia) and in the conceptual metaphor and in the Conceptual Blending Theory. It would be possible in further work to develop an alternative description of music connecting the actual qualitative experience (qualia) and mental operations of the Conceptual Blending Theory.

    Selected Test with Musical Qualia
    A first test shows two motives beginning with the same note. In the first motive the initial note A is followed by neighboring tones in a traditional tonal manner. In a series of experiments with 20 music students, we played the tonal motive first, and the atonal motive only second. For this purpose the examples were recorded by electronic means so that there could be no differences between the durations and the colors of the sounds. After listening, the subjects were asked how strong the representation, i.e. the sound, of the intitial. A note was in their consciousness after each motive. We detected that, for all the subjects, the representation of the note was still present in the case of the tonal example (quale), while the initial note remained present for only 2 of the 20 students after listening to the atonal motive. This is the effect of the sequence following the note A. In the tonal case, the chunk of the note A is fixed by repetitions and a cognitive structure is built on the accumulation of this note. In the atonal case, this note does not even reappear and is not part of the following sequence: it possesses no significant relevance in the 2 musical bars. Thus vanishes the representation of this quale.

    Full text (PDF) p.  460-462