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Listening in the wild: cognitive ecology of music listening

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posted on 2022-10-07, 02:33 authored by Samuel E. Jones

Music listening permeates everyday life. As a practice, it provides the listener with unique opportunities for a multitude of affective and cognitive experiences. In this thesis, I explore music listening as a cognitive ecological process. Rather than a matter of only perception or internal experience, music listening is distributed across mind, body, and both the physical and social environment. I begin by stepping through embodied and extended accounts of cognition to develop the foundation of an ecological approach to music listening. I then discuss the way in which music listening is an acquired and developed skill, contingent upon a complex array of socio-cultural and cognitive processes. In chapters 3 and 4 I briefly explore topics of interest for ongoing research. Chapter 3 explores how the listening ecology model is further shaped by live performance environments. Chapter 4 discusses the role of lyrics in music listening. In particular, what changes in the listener’s experience when the piece of music has lyrical content? By integrating a wide range of views from cognitive science, psychology, philosophy of mind and musicology, I hope to provide a theoretical foundation for future empirical and ethnographic research.


Table of Contents

Chapter one - towards an ecology of music listening -- Chapter two - skilled listening -- Chapter three - live listening, performance & audience -- Chapter four - embedding lyrics in ecology -- Conclusion -- References


In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Medicine, Health & Human Sciences, Department of Cognitive Science, 2020

Department, Centre or School

Department of Cognitive Science

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

John Sutton

Additional Supervisor 1

Kirk Olsen

Additional Supervisor 2

Kath Bicknell


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




58 pages

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