La Musique et la psychophysiologie

Following the 1894 publication of her manual, Le Toucher, published in 1896, La musique et la psychophysiologie is Jaëll’s attempt at coalescing the more philosophical underpinnings of her pedagogy. Whereas the earlier manual is more conventional—it is primarily a compendium of exercises—the latter is a treatise of remarkable scope and erudition. Across nearly 200 pages of prose, Jaëll is in dialogue with the preeminent scientific voices of her age, including Bain, Spencer, Darwin, Helmholtz, Wundt, and many others. She marshals these voices to lend support for her basic claim: the psychophysiological principles that govern sensation and perception are applicable to musical aesthetics. Moreover, for pianists specifically, fingerprints are visual representations of different types of touch, and may be used by teachers and performers to identify and correct poor technique. Jaëll’s ultimate and most profound assertion is that physical sensation and activity are inextricably linked with the beauty of the musical work. The methodology she develops here and in other treatises is designed to make the connections among musical composition, mental image, sound, and tactility stronger with practice.

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editorF. Alcan
place of publicationParis
years of publication1896
book reprinted