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Marcel Cobussen on 'Listening as a Multisensorial Experience' in The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy

Marcel Cobussen wrote the essay “Listening as a Multisensorial Experience” for The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy.

Engaging in music, to be affected by it, to experience its effects, is perhaps first of all achieved by listening to it. Responding to the call of music happens in and through several different regimes of listening. However, in this essay I will demonstrate, first, that our contact with sounds is most often multi-sensorial. Second, I will stand up for certain regimes of listening that frequently have been treated with some scorn.
Listening involves the whole body: visual, tactile, and even olfactory systems contribute in very specific ways to auditory experiences. Listening also involves the mind: it triggers our intellect as well as our emotions, imagination, and memories. Listening is influenced by the environment: material as well as immaterial developments determine not only what we are listening to and when we can listen, but also how we listen: attentively, analytically, but also – and perhaps more often – distracted, dipping in and out a concentrated contact with music. 

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