John Sloboda

Published On


Page Range

pp. 389–398


  • English

Print Length

10 pages


‘A Psychologist’s Perspective’

The afterword provides a summative commentary on some key themes and issues raised by the contributors to the volume. It is offered from outside the disciplines of music and theology, from the perspective of an empirical psychologist. Issues of generality (or specificity) of the spiritual musical experience are discussed in relation to quantitative and qualitative approaches to data gathering. This has relevance to (a) the positionality of different scholars studying the phenomenon of spirituality through music, and (b) the great variety of individual contexts and modes of response to music in the populations studied. A technical means of encompassing different viewpoints on, and understandings of, the term "spiritual" is proposed: the construction of a conceptual map of the different terms found in discourse on the topic, organised along a small number of dimensions which elucidate the connection of different terms to each other. This afterword also revisits an earlier discussion of the usefulness of applying the notion of affordances to account for the opportunities that music affords (but does not dictate) for spiritual experience, through its ineffability, its associative power, and its unifying characteristics.


John Sloboda

Emeritus Professor at Keele University

John Sloboda is Emeritus Professor at the University of Keele, where he founded and directed the Study of Musical Skill and Development, and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His publications include The Musical Mind: The Cognitive Psychology of Music (1985), Exploring the Musical Mind: Cognition, Emotion, Ability, Function (2005) and, as co-editor with Patrik N. Juslin, Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, Applications (2009).