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Stige (1998, 2002, 2008) on the other hand, criticizes the connection of aesthetics with the notions of wholeness and unity; a connection that is explicit in the afore-mentioned views of Aigen (1995, 2007, 2008), Salas (1990) and Kenny (1982, 1989, 2006). Coming from a culture-centered approach to music therapy, he considers these notions a set of values that are not shared by everyone and possibly repress other values. He argues that it is problematic to develop general criteria for distinction between aesthetic and unaesthetic experiences based on these notions of unity, completion or wholeness to our experience, as what is unity, completion or wholeness for one individual, is not necessarily for another person as well (Stige (2002). Stige therefore counter-proposes the acknowledgement of different "local" aesthetics and examines music therapy as a set of aesthetic practices. In other words, he refutes the quest for universal aesthetic qualities and focuses on the communication processes on values and value, related to specific contexts (Stige, 1998, 2008).

Salas, J. (1990). Aesthetic experience in music therapy. Music Therapy 9(1), 1-15.

I also want to clarify that despite the fact that my explorations are based mainly on Aigen’s premises, the meanings that I generate and the links that I make with other theories are not necessarily attributed to Aigen’s theory. My intention is not to explain or elaborate Aigen’s understanding of aesthetics, but rather to develop my own personal understanding as this is based on Aigen’s premises. So, both similarities and dissimilarities between Aigen’s view and my own personal view of aesthetic experience and transformation in music therapy may be identified.


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Mueller, K. (1964). The aesthetic experience and psychological man. Journal of Music Therapy 1(1), 8-10.

In a similar way, Kenny (1982, 2006) describes aesthetics as an intrinsic human quality, as the notion of aesthetics is connected with the human’s need for beauty and quest for meaning in the world. "As one moves toward beauty", according to Kenny (1989, p. 77), "one moves toward wholeness, or the fullest potential of what one can be in the world." However, the use of the word beauty and its definition is controversial, especially in the framework of music and other form of art therapies. For this reason, I would like to comment on it briefly in the paragraph below.


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Through a very brief retrospective review, an evolving interest in the discourse of aesthetics started anew in the eighteenth century. In 1750 Baumgarten (as cited in Stige 1998) focused on the qualities of the artistic object and argued that aesthetics should be able to explain beauty as a product of perfection (see also Frohne-Hagemann, 2001). On the other hand, in 1790 Kant (as cited in Stige, 1998) emphasized the subject’s role and active participation in the creation of all knowledge – a fact that gave an inter-subjective character to aesthetics. More particularly, Kant claimed that the person will never have an objective knowledge of reality as he always makes sense of the world by his perception of the world through his senses and through his pre-existing knowledge and past experiences. Therefore, he emphasized the importance of inter-subjectivity as people communicate on aesthetic judgments (Stige, 2002). It is interesting to mention that a central point in Kant’s view is the idea of "purposiveness without a purpose." Even if this idea initially did not intend to imply that art is functionless, Adorno’s radical view gave it a new direction by implying that autonomous artworks have a social situation, but no direct social function. Therefore, he implied autonomy of art which has as its purpose the creation of something without direct function (Hamilton, 2007).

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Some ideas that I find illustrative to Aigen’s view are those of Clive Robbins, who claims that therapy processes are intrinsically artistic processes by stating that "the power of music in therapy stems from the reality that music is an art" (Robbins, 1993, p. 16). Bruscia also talks about music as artistic process. He states, "aesthetic values and beauty are pursued and achieved while improvising, composing, re-creating, or listening to music, in the creative process itself" (Bruscia, 1998, p. 149).