Contributions for a new musicological discipline
“All art is concerned with coming into being, i.e. with contriving and considering how something may come into being which is capable of either being or not being, and whose origin is in the maker and not in the thing made; for art is concerned neither with things that are, or come into being, by necessity, nor with things that do so in accordance with nature since these have their origin in themselves”
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book VI, §4, translated by W.D. Ross, online in
From that definition, we may infer that this whole business of making art is fundamentally contingent, and thus pave the way for an approach to art that will analyse the fictions that create these virtual realities on which the creative process rests. This will be the heuristic approach. Etymologically, “Heuristics” can be traced back to ευ ρίσκω, “I find,” in ancient Greek, from which the word “Eureka” also comes. A principle is deemed heuristic when it is to be evaluated not on how it applies or verifies a particular truth but on how it will contribute totally or partially to the realization of a particular project. The historical antecedents of Heuristics as a method are manifold. It began to be applied in aesthetics by Alexander Baumgarten, whose Aesthetica Theorica (1750) presents aesthetics as a daily pursuit that never ceases, as a science of Beauty, as knowledge obtained through the senses, rather than just as a theoretical construction.
In this context, musical heuristics is the academic discipline that will try to initiate, represent and study the act of musical creation, by describing the fictional world from whence it comes and by trying to pinpoint musicality through getting to know the fluid processes at play when a person, or several, bring music to life.
Translation: Gérard Dahan