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Religions 2014, 5(1), 76-89; doi:10.3390/rel5010076

Are Spiritual Experiences through Music Seen as Intrinsic or Extrinsic?

School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
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Received: 23 November 2013 / Revised: 17 January 2014 / Accepted: 17 January 2014 / Published: 29 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music and Spirituality)
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Abstract

Music has a great capacity to afford spiritual experiences, but are those experiences intrinsic or extrinsic to the music? This paper reports the results of research aimed at answering that research question. One hundred and seventeen self-reported Christian religious people completed a survey, answering eight rating-item questions about strong musical experiences, both in a religious and a non-religious context. Factor analysis revealed that ratings related to spirituality grouped together, but were separate from intrinsic and extrinsic semantic groupings, suggesting that there is something special about the phenomenon of spiritual experiences with music that is beyond a simple identifiable source. We concluded that spirituality, therefore, appears to be something profound and transcendent that comes to life with the musical forms, rather than being perceived as either explicitly intrinsic or extrinsic to the music. In the religious context, experiences were stronger, more spiritual, and more emotional, but in the non-religious context experiences elicited similar features, just to a lesser degree. This suggests the phenomenon is not merely a product of religion. This research, although limited due to its quantitative nature, demonstrated an important place for spirituality within the experience of music, and therefore places a call on the research community to invest more in understanding this phenomenon.
Keywords: spirituality; music; emotion; religion spirituality; music; emotion; religion
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Atkins, P.; Schubert, E. Are Spiritual Experiences through Music Seen as Intrinsic or Extrinsic? Religions 2014, 5, 76-89.

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