Virtual Book Club: Chapters 8, 9, & 10 A Philosophy of Music for Music-Centered Music Therapy Theory

Virtual Book ClubIt’s been a while since I’ve posted on the Virtual Book Club. I have to admit, I’m getting tired of reading this book, so I’m putting it off more and more. Aigen’s writing is very complicated and becomes more work to read it and less enjoyable. I had a difficult time understanding the next few chapters in isolation, so since they are all one section, I will process them in this one post, rather than in individual posts, like I’ve done previously.

Need to catch up? Here are the links to the first two parts:

Music-Centered Music Therapy Radio Show


Chapter 1 The Nature of Theory

Chapter 2 Theory in Music Therapy


Chapter 3 Origins and Foundations of Music-Centered Music Therapy

Chapter 4 Values Central to Musicing in Music-Centered Music Therapy

Chapter 5 Rationales, Practices, and Implications of Music-Centered Music Therapy

Chapter 6 Music-Centered Thinking in Music Therapy Models

Chapter 7 Music-Centered Thinking in Contemporary Music Therapy Frameworks


This section has its own introduction, which explains that music is a behavior but is more than just a behavior so we don’t need to use behavioral models to explain it, and music requires a brain, but is more than neurological impulses so we don’t need to use neurology to explain it. Aigen poses this section as an argument for the inherent clinical value of the musical experience.

In Chapter 8 Music Therapy and Schema Theory, Aigen explains that schema theory uses metaphors which explain how we experience music in order to understand the nature of music. There are images in schema theory, like part-whole, front-back, and up-down, that we use when we describe music, because these ideas are how humans experience the world. An arm is part of our whole body. We can understand that and use those images to explain other things in our world. In music, rhythm is part of a song. As a music therapist, I might emphasize rhythm to get the outcome from the client that I’m hoping for, but I know that without the rhythm being part of the whole song, I probably won’t get the same type of response that I do when that rhythm is presented within the song.

In Chapter 9 Zuckerkandl’s Dynamic Theory of Tone, Aigen discusses the work of Zuckerkandl, an Austrian that posed ideas about the fundamental nature of music. In the introduction to this section, Aigen summarizes these ideas as using the elements of music to understand the nature of humans. This chapter was really complex and I read it while going through some complex personal times, so I’m sure that impaired my comprehension a bit. What I got from this chapter was that Aigen wants to use these ideas in his argument, along with schema theory; Zuckerkandl’s ideas and schema theory seem to not have much in common; and there were some criticisms of Zuckerkandl’s ideas that Aigen needed to counter so that the reader would go along with Aigen’s argument.

Which brings us to Chapter 10 The Status of Musical Force, Motion, and Space: Reconciling Schema Theory and Zuckerkandl. Apparently, if you understood the previous two chapters, you would assume that schema theory and Zuckerkandl’s thinking are not compatible. This chapter resolves that incompatibility. I consider myself a well-educated, intelligent, and accomplished music therapist, but I did not understand much of these three chapters. I believe the take-away was supposed to be that music has force, motion, and space, and that there are very good, scientific reasons for why we should believe that. I never actually doubted those things, so maybe I didn’t need the convincing that this section of the book was trying to impart.

If you’ve read this book and have a better understanding than I do, I would love to hear from you.