The Language of Music

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The Language of Music
The Language of Music.jpg
Cover of the 1960 Oxford University Press edition
Author Deryck Cooke
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Music
Published 1959
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 304 (1990 Clarendon Press edition)
ISBN 978-0198161806

The Language of Music is a 1959 book about music by the critic and musician Deryck Cooke.


Cooke expounds the expressionist theory of art, according to which beauty in music depends upon the accurate representation of the emotions of its creators. He matches various predicates with musical phrases or chordal sequences.[1] Cooke believes that memory for melodic contour and implicit harmony is allied to its affective character.[2]

Scholarly reception[edit]

The Language of Music is an often cited representative of the expressionist theory of art.[1] No systematic experimental study of Cooke's theory has emerged relating it to musical education, but one pilot study showed that for 22 non-musician students, his characterizations of musical phrases were not experienced.[2] The philosopher Douglas Hofstadter writes in Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979) that Cooke's book is, "A valuable start down what is sure to be a long hard road to understanding music and the human mind."[3]



  1. ^ a b Sharpe 1995. p. 599.
  2. ^ a b Spender 2004. p. 631.
  3. ^ Hofstadter 1980. p. 747.


  • Hofstadter, Douglas (1980). Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-005579-7. 
  • Sharpe, Robert (1995). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866132-0. 
  • Spender, Natasha (2004). Gregory, Richard L., ed. The Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866224-6.