T his article introduces the notion of pleasant musical imagery (PMI) for denoting everyday phenomena where people want to cherish music “in their heads.” This account differs from current paradigms for studying musical imagery in that it is not based a priori on (in)voluntariness of the experience. An empirical investigation of the structure and experiential content in 50 persons’ experiences of PMI applied the elicitation interview method. Peer judgments of the interviews helped to bridge a phenomenological investigation of particular experiences with systematic between-subjects analysis. Both structural features of the imagery (e.g., Looseness of structure or Looping ) and content features of the imagery (e.g., Embodied evocativeness and Object-directedness ) showed significant associations with participants’ individual characteristics, personality, and/or cognitive style. The approach taken suggests a new paradigm for studying musical imagery—one that is based on tracing the interactional and enactive processes of “inner listening.”
The article introduces an empirical approach to studying music’s extrinsic meanings, based on the idea of musical topos as a set of musical entities that is delimited and furnished with meaning by extramusical associations in a listener population. The proposed methodology involves free, associative responses as well as responses on semantic variables addressing the imagery. After deriving potential topical structures for a given musical domain from the quantitative results, the structures are substantiated by using them to guide a rule-based, qualitative analysis of the free responses. The approach allows a view to the topical organization of a musical domain in which the identity of each musical topos is fixed in extrinsic terms, by a set of semantic fields that is unique to the topos in question. An application of the approach to contemporary “motivational” production music yields an organization of such semantic fields into three topical categories—Intimacy, Potency, and Speed.