Research Article

Susanne Langer on Music and Time



Susanne Langer’s idea of the primary apparition of music involves a dichotomy between two kinds of temporality: ‘felt time’ and ‘clock time’. For Langer, musical time is exclusively felt time, and in this sense, music is ‘time made audible’. However, Langer also postulates a ‘strong suspension thesis’: the swallowing up of clock time in the illusion of felt time. In this essay, we take issue with the ‘strong suspension thesis’, its philosophic foundation and its implications. We argue that this thesis is overstated and misdirecting insofar as it purports to describe what we experience when we hear music with understanding, and that it rests on a contested presupposition concerning the conceptual primacy of memory-time.


  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 58 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 35–56
  • DOI: 10.33134/eeja.195
  • Submitted on 30 Oct 2018
  • Accepted on 19 Dec 2019
  • Published on 17 Mar 2021
  • Peer Reviewed