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Music’s Powers: Embodiment & Flourishing with Taylor Swift
Contemporary Music Review  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-07-13, DOI: 10.1080/07494467.2021.1945228


The arts, in all forms, have a longer history as a source for healing, mourning, celebrating and marking life’s passages than both psychology or medicine. Yet current western medical models for assessing art’s impact on ‘better’ or ‘worse’ health do not account for a sense of well-being and ‘flourishing’ in wellness/illness situations as music therapist’s have expressed. This paper revisits an exchange between popular music studies scholar Simon Frith and music therapist’s Gary Ansdell and Bent Jensen to ‘put the nerve’ into their discussion of ‘music’s powers’ with an embodied account of how music can charge people emotionally. It attends to the unfinished processes of music-making from the perspective of playing Taylor Swift covers to explore the connections between musical embodiment, emotions, and self-concept. The physical, emotional, cognitive and social outcomes of music-making are explored from a somatic perspective to propose that playing covers can be a means of ‘feeling yourself’, and can contribute to what Ansdell and fellow music therapist Tia DeNora call ‘flourishing’ in the everyday. The attention to embodiment situates this essay amongst scholarship, within and beyond music, concerned with the role of the moving body, and the arts, in re-imagining systems of care.