2022-02Thematic Section
The Singing Voice’s Charms: Aesthetic and Transformative Aspects of Singing in Literature, Art, and Philosophy


Music, as sung and listened to, has been described in many a tale as powerful and transformative. Yet, the important question is not so much if that claim is true or whether it may be verified, but what kind of power and transformation are alluded to in those mythical and literary sources? Taking these symbolic claims and elaborating on their possible meaning, alongside thinkers such as Carolyne Abbate or Roland Barthes, proceeds to find ways in which these claims may suggest different roles that music and singing play in human lives. As much as current musicological and anthropological academic narratives point to the power and its negotiation in society, there is more to singing voices’ charms than this. The author points to an important transformation that happens when the human existential qualities found in the voice’s imperfections (its materiality) are matched with the music’s aesthetic qualities (its beauty, sublimity, its symmetry, its impression) to transform the listener and make her listen.


voice, singing, music aesthetics, Carolyn Abbate, Theodor Adorno

How to cite:

Szyszkowska, Małgorzata A. “The Singing Voice’s Charms: Aesthetic and Transformative Aspects of Singing in Literature, Art, and Philosophy.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 6, no. 2 (2022):  26-36. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2022.0013.


Małgorzata A. Szyszkowska
Chopin University of Music
Okólnik 2, 00-368 Warsaw, Poland


Abbate, Carolyne. Unsung Voices: Opera and Narrative in the Nineteenth Century Music. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Adorno, Theodor, and Max Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.

Baldwin, James, “Sonny’s Blues.” In The Jazz Fiction Anthology. Edited by Sascha Feinstein and David Rife, 117-48. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

Barthes, Roland. “The Grain of the Voice,” In Image, Music, Text. Edited and translated by Stephen Heath. London: Fontana Press, 1977

Bernard, Catherine. Celtic Mythology.

Blacking, John. “The Value of Music in Human Existence.” In Vol. 1, Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council, 33-71. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

Campbell, Joseph. “The Masks of God.” In Vol. 4, Creative Mythology. Penguin Compass Books, 1991.

Duncan, Michelle. “The Operatic Scandal of the Singing Body: Voice, Presence, Performativity.” Cambridge Opera Journal 16, no. 3, Performance Studies and Opera, (2004): 283-306.

Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths.

Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Samuel Butler. Project Gutenberg, 1999.

Kivy, Peter. Music Alone.

Le Guin, Ursula. “The Furthest Shore.” In Earthsea. Atheneum Books, 1972.

Le Guin, Ursula. Steering the Craft. A 21-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story. Boston and New York: Mariner Books, 2015.

Levinson Jerrold. “Music as Narrative and Music as Drama.” Mind and Language 19, no 4 (2004): 428-441.

Levinson Jerrold. “What a Musical Work Is.” The Journal of Philosophy 77, no. 1 (January, 1980): 5-28.

Lyotard, Jean-François. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.

Maus, Fred Everett. “Music as Narrative.” Indiana Theory Review 12 (1991): 1-34.

Merriam, Alan P. The Anthropology of Music. Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1964.

de Nora, Tia, and Gary Ansdell. “What Can’t Music Do.” Psychology of Well-Being: Theory, Research and Practice 4, no. 23 (2014).

Plato. “Republic.” In Vol. 1, The Dialogues. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. London: Oxford University Press, 1892.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. “Essai sur l’origine des langues” In vol. 5 OEuvres complètes: Écrits sur la musique, la langue, et le théâtre, edited by Bernard Gagnebin and Marcel Raymond, 375-429. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1995.

Scruton, Roger. The Aesthetics of Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace.

Open Access Statement:

This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Submitting a text to Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture means that the author agrees with the general conditions of this license. The author does and will maintain copyrights and publishing rights for his/her article without any restrictions.

situs slothttps://disdukcapil.salatiga.go.id/ngacor/slot gacortotomacau4dsitus totositus totositus totoslot gacorsitus togelsitus totoagen totositus togelsitus totositus togel resmislot gacorslot gacorslot gacorbento4d