Throughout the eighteenth century the terms sentiment and sensibility began to evolve greatly as discussed in Georgia Cowart's journal, Sense and Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Musical Thought. This development sparked first in France and then spread to England and on to Germany. Resulting from the maturation of these words, listeners began to find an emotional beauty deeper in the senses, instead of only judging it with the intellect.
In France the term sentiment generally referred to either an impression on the senses or an opinion. The first writer to develop a real aesthetic of music was Lecerf de la Vieville. He believed, however, that the heart could only be moved by “the intellectual content of an affectively-set text” (Cowart). Towards the beginning of the eighteenth century, the idea of sentiment in music had progressed. Both Jean-Pierre Crousaz and abbé Dubos agreed that music set to text was preferable to strictly instrumental music but they did not completely write it off. Slowly the term sentiment began to take on a more emotional aspect and with this development, music
The French and English uses of sensibility and sentimentality set the vogue of fashion throughout Europe. Before 1768, the definition of sentiment, in England, was divided into two categories. One use of sentimental was implying action of though and the other of both thought and feeling. David Hume, the British philosopher, believed that the sentiment of beauty and deformity depended upon taste. For Hume, sentiment was far superior to reason in the study of beauty: "And where a man has no such delicacy of temper as to make him feel this sentiment, he must be ignorant of the beauty; though possessed of the science and understanding of an angel" (Cowart). Another British philosopher of the eighteenth century, Lord Kames, although he did talk about music having an effect on the emotions, did not completely agree with David Hume in relating the definitions of sentimentality to the subjective artistic experience. Lord Kames considered the sentiments as simply touching states found in literature.
The debate of the use of sentimentality continued into Germany. Johann Mattheson brought sentiment into musical analysis through his Das forschende Orchestre. He devoted half of this work to the effect that music has on the senses. He stressed the significance of a melody which indeed does touch the senses. Georgia Cowart...