What is your aim in philosophy?—To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.

(Ludwig Wittgenstein)

This short book is intended for readers who think that music is something very important, but who want to get beyond the usual clichés in thinking about why that is. My inspiration is Friedrich Nietzsche’s much-quoted remark, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Nietzsche wrote that aphorism in the late nineteenth century, but the same point had already been made by Protarchus in the fourth century BCE.

I begin, in Chapter 1, with the question of what music is. Sound, obviously. (But is it really so obvious? Chapter 1 observes that many ancient and medieval writers thought otherwise.) Besides sound, what else is required? And, whatever ...

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