Matteo Ravasio

Matteo Ravasio

University of Auckland


Heuristic Devices in Music

Adelaide Workshop 2017

In this paper, I will term ‘heuristic device’ a particular type of strategy used by composers, performers and listeners in order to create, interpret and appreciate expressive music. This strategy involves the use of extra-musical references, in the form of imaginative processes or structural analogies, in the composition, performance and listening of expressive music. I contend that heuristic devices, as described in this paper, play an important role in shaping our experience of music when listening and in guiding our action when composing and performing. I support my claims with references to both philosophical literature and music history. In the final part of the paper I briefly discuss the relation between heuristic devices and Peter Kivy’s contour theory of musical expressiveness: I contend that Kivy has mistaken heuristic devices that may be employed in the production and appreciation of expressive music for constitutive elements of the phenomenology of music listening.