A Brief History  of Music and Psychology


In the western (Euro-American) cultural traditions,
 early work on the psychology of music can be seen in the ideas of:

Pythagoras (570--495 BC)

The problem of the Irrational - The Golden Section (0.618) 

Plato - Theory of Forms - The perfect world......  Draws from Pythagoras

Harmony -Discord in training the mind and the spirit, along with theatre & arts

Middle Ages 

Spirituals - Choral (later forms emerge blended with other traditions)

Aesthetics  - Along with Emotion and Mind finding beauty and pleasure, goodness.


Modern Foundations

Johan Joseph Lausch (1751-1825) Published in 1782
Psychologishe Abhandlung uber den Einfluss der Tone und besondere de musik auf die Seele

Hermann L. F. von Helmholtz (1821-1894)

- expert on Physics and Physiology.
Theory of Colour Vision and Theories on Acoustics
    On the sensations of tone as physiological basis for the theory of music(1948).

Carl Stumpf (1848-1930)

While studying at gymnasium (1859-1863) received his musical training
which he continued to nourish and develop over his lifetime.

Attended Wurzburg university and studied under Brentano,
    took an interest in ethical-religious studies.

Left for Gottingen to study with Lotze and began to take lectures with Wilhelm Weber.

1868 returned to Wurzberg entered ecclesiastical seminary and found the ascetic lifestyle wanting.

1870 back to Gottingen for instructorship in philosophy. Participated in many "Music Evenings"
 Soon met The Leipzig psychophysicists: E.H, Weber and Gustav Fechner
                                                      (arguably the godfathers of psychology).

1875 began work on Tonopsychologie, thanks in part to the "excellent collection
of acoustical devices at the institute of Physics." 
     Examined "sensory judgments" not sensations.

1879 - Prague continued work... got into ethnological literature of music.... 1883 first volume published.....

1884 Spent summer in Halle, progressed on the seconded volume,
including fusion-experiments using cathedral organ, best source of constant tone waves.

1889 called to Munich then settled in Berlin and continued to test overtones

1897 began to study prodigies and Kinderpsychologie.

1900 initiated the Archive for Phonographic Records
 - by 1923 became a valuable archive ( 10,000 records ) with special music from dying cultures.

1903 examined Kruger's work on combination tones upon which his new consonance theory was based.

Continued to work at Berlin until the first world war when he slowed his academic work and collaboration. Resumed work for a few years until retiring in 1921 on his 73rd birthday.


Wilhelm Wundt (1897)

Outlines of Psychology 

Discusses the parallels between sensation and affective elements 
notion of there being 'opposite qualitative differences' between states and tones.

That in the middle zone one can move between one end and the other imperceptibly and that feelings disappear (as with high and low tones) in this 'zone of indifference'

Unity of creative synthesis of consciousness is central to his system.

Christian von Ehrenfels (1859-1932)
        Gestalt experiences involve the qualities of more than
         merely the sum of the parts. A whole perception

        Music perception - gave rise to studies in transposition (i.e., Happy Birthday).

School of Gestalt Psychology Grew from his work

Background to Contemporary Research

Various important topics and Figures arose from these earlier scientific studies of Psychology  & Music

Bartholomew (1899) Relation of Psychology to Music

Meyer, M. (1901) Contributions to a psychological Theory of Music

Lipps (1905) Psychologische Studien (Consonance & Dissonance in Music)

Fisher (1905) Psychology for Music teachers

Bingham (1910) Studies in Melody

Bacon (1922) Effects of Practice on Judgments of absolute pitch

Schoen (1927) The Effects of Music

Swisher (1927) Psychology for the music teacher

Alder (1929) Music Appreciation

Paul R. Farnsworth Ohio State University (BA 1921, MA 1923, PhD 1925), dissertation " Ending Preferences and Apparent Pitch of a Combination of Tones". Published on:

                                (1930) Short Studies in Musical Psychology
                                (1941) Are "Music Capacity" tests more important than "intelligence"
                                            tests in the prediction of the several types of Music Grades
                               (1958) The social Psychology of Music

Kurth (1931) Musikpsychologie

Petran (1932) An Experimental Study of Pitch recognition

Bugg (1933) Factors Influencing Consonance judgments

Lee (1933) Music and its Lovers, and Empirical Study of Emotional and Imaginative Responses to Music

Matthay (1939) An Introduction to Psychology for Music teachers

Wellek (1939) Typologie der musilbegabung im deutschen Volke

Carl Emil Seashore (1866-1949)
        (1924) A survey of Musical Talent in the Public Schools...
        (1937) Objective Analysis of Musical Performance
        (1938) The psychology of Music
        (1947) In search of Beauty in Music
        (1956) Measures of Musical talents manual

Watson, K. (1942) The nature and Measurement of Musical Meanings

Weaver (1943) Studies in Ocular Behavior in Music Reading

Wyatt (1945) Improvability of Pitch discrimination

Meyer, L. (1956) Emotion and Meaning in Music

Cazden (1958) Pythagorus and Aristoxenos reconciled

Ohio State University Music 829F Bibliography of the History of Music & Psychology



Journal Psychology of Music http://pom.sagepub.com/archive/

Society for Education, music and psychology Research (Sempre) http://sempre.org.uk/

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_psychology