During the last couple of years I’ve been developing research in the philosophy of technology. I am currently writing and rewriting an essay about individual identity, sociality, and smartphones.
For an interesting response to my essay see Andreas Vrahimis, “Is There a Methodological Divide between Analytic and Continental Philosophy of Music? Response to Roholt.” In The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (Volume 76, no. 1, 2018).
Follow these links for reviews and discussions of my book Groove: A Phenomenology of Rhythmic Nuance. I really appreciate the time these reviewers and writers invested in the book.
- Google Scholar citations
- Journal of Aesthetic Education, review by Andrew Kania (volume 51, number 1, 2017)
- Popular Music, review by Philip Boast (volume 36, issue 2, 2017)
- British Journal of Aesthetics, review by Jeanette Bicknell (volume 56, number 4, 2016)
- Notes, review by Scott Gleason (volume 73, number 1, 2016)
- Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, review by Justin London (volume 74, Issue 1, 2016)
- Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology, review by Milan Jilka (volume 2, Issue 1, 2015)
- Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, review by Clément Canonne (2/18/2015)
- Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, review by Daniel Schnee (volume 7, number 2, 2015)
- Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. (March, 2015)
- Under the Radar, by Frank Valish
- Brettworks, by Thomas Brett
- My piece “From the Author’s Perspective…” in the Spring 2015 American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter: 35.1
- Groove back-cover endorsements
I’ve written a fairly lengthy piece—”From the Author’s Perspective: Groove: A Phenomenology of Rhythmic Nuance”—which appears in the new American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter. Here is the opening paragraph:
How should we understand the relationship between music and body movement? The common view is that a listener’s body movement is a reaction to, an effect of, perceiving music. I don’t doubt that this is, in part, correct. I claim in Groove, however, that moving our bodies is often something that we do in order to grasp certain rhythmic qualities; our movement is an integral part of a perceptual skill for grasping qualities such as a groove. We know that the perception of music is not passive; I view bodily movement as a component of one’s active perception of music. To develop this, I draw upon the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s account of embodied perception, emphasizing his notion of motor intentionality. Before we get to this, though, let’s take a few steps back…
Read the rest here: 35.1
One of the ideas I leverage in my book, Groove, is the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion of motor intentionality.* Phenomenologists use the term “intentional” to refer to our directedness toward something. Merleau-Ponty’s idea is that, in certain movements, our bodily directedness toward objects constitutes a kind of practical, noncognitive understanding of them. (For example, I have a practical rather than intellectual understanding of the shape and flimsiness of this Coke can through the movements of my fingers and thumb.)
It’s commonly believed that a groove is, in some sense, the feel of a rhythm. But the feels of grooves seem somewhat mysteriously embodied. I try to make sense of this through a particular characteristic of motor intentionality. Notice that our motor-intentional understanding of something can be effective or ineffective. (A faulty understanding may result in my not succeeding in picking up the Coke; the can may slip from my hand, spill.) Merleau-Ponty believes we experience this wrongness and rightness of our bodily understanding as bodily feelings of tension, equilibrium, etc. I think that when we move to music we are attempting to understand it, bodily, through our movements.
I argue that this felt, affective dimension of motor intentionality is the basic nature of the feel of a groove. The embodied understanding of a groove, on the one hand, and the feel that informs this motor-intentional activity, on the other, are two sides of the same coin: to “get” a groove just is to comprehend it bodily and to feel that comprehension.
*For more on motor intentionality, see Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. Also see Sean D. Kelly’s “Merleau-Ponty on the Body: The Logic of Motor Intentional Activity,” Ratio XV, no. 4 (2002): 376– 91. For more on Merleau-Ponty in general, see Taylor Carman’s Merleau-Ponty. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.
Thanks to Thomas Brett for this thoughtful review.
Tiger C. Roholt’s Groove: a phenomenology of rhythmic nuance is a splendid, rigorous, and brief (140 pp) book that makes a compelling case for something many musicians already know something about: groove. Groove is the feel of a rhythm–that quality of musical time that can make it seem as though the music is pushing ahead or laying back. How a single musician, let alone an entire ensemble, has groove is somewhat mysterious. In a way, the ability to produce and perceive groove is a kind of body knowledge and its feel aspect “is a musician’s datum” (105). Roholt designs his book around four propositions: first, grooves have a feel; second, grooves somehow involve the body and its movement; third, to understand a groove is to feel it; and finally, feeling and understanding a groove does not occur in thought or in listening, but through the body (2).
Roholt introduces his topic…
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These four endorsements appear on the back cover of my book, Groove: A Phenomenology of Rhythmic Nuance:
“For decades, philosophers and theorists of music have been promising an embodied phenomenology of music. Tiger C. Roholt’s Groove is an original and insightful essay that makes good on that promise. Roholt challenges analytic and quantificational approaches to rhythmic nuance and argues that grooves are non-conceptual, felt, and understood through bodily engagement. Full of smart musical examples and sound arguments, Groove is much more than just a book on rhythm or drumming. It is a cornerstone for any future phenomenology of music.”
BRIAN KANE, Associate Professor of Music, Yale University, USA
“Tiger C. Roholt’s energetic new study of a neglected but undeniably central aspect of rhythm represents a major step forward in understanding how and why music moves us as it does. Roholt writes both as a philosopher and as a player, which readers will quickly see is a great advantage on this topic, and he knows the value of examples, many of which are thoroughly absorbing in their own right. Roholt describes the motor-intentional process that actualizes the implicit groove of a song, giving us a new appreciation of the embodied character of this kind of aesthetic experience and the ‘groove-completing’ role of the listener. A wonderfully interesting study.”
GARRY L. HAGBERG, James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics, Bard College. USA
“Exploring uncharted philosophical territory, Tiger C. Roholt’s smart, thorough account of groove pushes us to rethink the nature of music and musical engagement. Experiencing music is not merely Continue reading “endorsements for Groove”