Philosophy of Music: Basic Principles


- to understand the specificity of the philosophy of music (in contrast to the history of ideas about music) in a interdisciplinary perspective;
- to recognise and explore concepts, currents and problems in the domain of music philosophy from the ancient times to the contemporary age;
- to connect the issues discussed in class to musicological culture and musical experience broadly conceived;
- to develop capacities of reflexive elaboration, theoretical justification and critical argumentation while addressing the topics of the course;
- to hone writing and communication skills;
- to cultivate the appreciation of philosophical reflection about music;
- to enrich the aesthetic experience of music, to foster artistic sensibility and to stimulate intellectual curiosity.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

João Pedro de Bastos Gonçalves Cachopo


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language



Reading skills in English are recommended.


AAVV, The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy. Ed. T. McAuley, N. Nielsen & J. Levinson. Oxford: OUP, 2021.
ADORNO, T. W., Essays on Music. Berkeley: UCP, 2002.
ATTALI, J., Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Trad. Brian Massumi. London: UPP, 2009.
BOWMAN, W., Philosophical Perspectives on Music. Oxford: OUP, 1998.
GOEHR, L. The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works. New York: OUP, 2007.
HANSLICK, E. Do Belo Musical. Um contributo para a revisão da estética da arte dos sons. Trad. A. Morão. Lisboa: Edições 70, 1994.
JANKÉLÉVITCH, V., La Musique et l’ineffable. Paris: Seuil, 1983 [1961].
KANT, I., Crítica da Faculdade do Juízo. Trad. de A. Marques e V. Rohden, Lisboa: INCM, 1992.
NIETZSCHE, F., O Nascimento da Tragédia. Trad. H. H. Quadrado e T. R. Cadete. Lisboa: Relógio d’Água, 1997.
QUIGNARD, P. La Haine de la musique. Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1996.
SCHOPENHAUER, A., O Mundo como Vontade e Representação. Trad. M. F. Sá Correia. Porto: Rés, s.d.

Teaching method

The classes are theoretical-practical. They will feature moments of presentation and moments of debate around the discussion of crucial texts, as well as the examination of concepts and the analysis of musical, visual or audio-visual examples. The development of critical thinking and argumentation skills, stressing the complementarity of individual research and collective discussion, will be of the utmost importance. The emphasis will be put on the relationship between the topics addressed and the contemporary musical and intellectual life with a view to the development of a broad and critical musicological culture.

Evaluation method

Evaluation Methodologies - 1) a written test(40%), 2) written assignments and their discussion(40%), 3) the participation in class(20%)

Subject matter

1. Introduction: scope and problems

2. From Antiquity to Enlightenment (Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine of Hippo, Boethius, Rousseau, Kant)

3. Romanticism and its dissidents (Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wagner, Hanslick)

4. Music and Modernity (Adorno, Attali, Jankélévitch)

5. Contemporary debates (Goehr, Abbate, Cook, Kivy, Bowie, McClary, Quignard, Rancière)


Programs where the course is taught: