Sound and Reason Synesthesia as Metacognition

PDF Sound and Reason Synesthesia as Metacognition 2022-06-15

Book author
  1. Sven Hroar Klempe


Draws on varied authors and disciplines, covering philosophy, musicology, literary studies, linguistics, and psychology.

Contributes to a broader as well as a deeper understanding of the relationship between music and human cognition.

Integrates linguistic and mathematical aspects of music and musical communication to understand human thinking.


I would like to thank a number of people in connection with the development of this book. Te foundation of the book was laid over several decades. First and foremost fve people contributed to this: James W. Brown, Even Ruud, Peder Christian Kjerschow, Ove Kr. Sundberg and Søren Kjørup. In addition, close colleagues at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have more or less directly lent important support: Bjørg Helgemo, Vibeke Aalmo, Ingunn Hagen, Birthe L. Knizek, Torbjørn Rundmo, Olga Lehmann, Dawn Behne, Nunne Englund, Anne Iversen, Berit Johannesen, Lars Morten Rimol and Dankert Vedeler. Te Department of Psychology, NTNU has contributed fnancially to the translation of this book from Norwegian to English. Tank you to translator Mona Engvig and her collaborator Karen Kozlow, who made this process very fexible and contributed to an exemplary collaborative project. A big thank you goes to Mark Nicholas Grimshaw-Aagaard, who invited me to publish this book as part of his Palgrave series, but also to Roger Gilkeson, Ståle Kleiberg, Rolf Inge Godøy, Petter Dyndahl, Martin Knakkergaard, Jacob Belzen and MadsOle Østergaard Nielsen. Tank you also to Jaan Valsiner and his entire worldwide cultural psychology network, which has been an incredible intellectual inspiration over the past decade, and among whom I will give a special thank you to Mogens Jensen, Pina Marsico, Luca Tateo, Lívia. Simão, Danilo Silva Guimarães and Irina Mironenko. I would also like to thank Petra Filkuková for our thought-provoking collaboration, which has been absolutely crucial for creating the necessary overall logic in the book’s reasoning. Finally, I would like to thank my fve grandchildren, to whom this book is dedicated. Tey were between less-than-one year and six years of age when I wrote this book. My grandchildren were constantly around me, and at times on top of me, throughout the writing process. Tey brought me very close to the content of this book.


A few decades ago, a friend of mine presented a series of radio programs entitled: “Why sing when you can talk?” Te topic of this series was opera, but the question pertains to much more than just opera as an art form. It is a question many have asked themselves over centuries, without necessarily fnding a defnitive answer. Seen from a utility perspective, there are probably few arguments that can justify music’s place in culture. Hence, some have viewed music as one of the fairly useless byproducts of evolution (Pinker, 1997).

Seen in light of strict Darwinism, all genetic innovations are random byproducts of mutations. It is not always easy to determine which benefcial efects these byproducts may have in the long run. Also, there is usually not just one benefcial efect. In addition, the favorability can have diferent levels, and also have a more subordinate and perhaps more invisible character. It is probably in this perspective that music must be understood, and where it may reveal its true nature: Music in terms of sound is another underlying factor that emerges in very diverse situations, and which clearly represents something existing in all, or almost all, cultures.

Without going too much into the evolutionist perspectives, there is still reason to pursue some basic questions further: Is it not enough to talk? Do we necessarily have to sing as well? Tere is a version of this question that lies behind the writing of this book that interferes deeply​
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