What music does Martin Lenz listen to?

This week it’s the playlist of Martin Lenz, associate professor and chair of the department of history of philosophy.

Research projects

Martin Lenz tries to connect his research on early modern and medieval philosophy to contemporary themes.
A recurrent theme in his work is are the relations between language, thought and the world. He places a strong emphasis on historically apt methodology, but his main goal is not simply to uncover forgotten theories, but to evaluate their argumentative frameworks in comparison to contemporary assumptions.

‘In recent years, I became increasingly intrigued by questions of normativity. What is the measure by which our thoughts are (taken to be) true and false? And how do standards of epistemic and semantic correctness relate to standards of action? Is there a common core – grounded perhaps in a notion of rationality – or are these standards unrelated? ‘

He currently works on three different research projects:

– Norms in Nature? Transformations of Essentialism 1274-1787
– Socializing the Mind: Intersubjectivity in Early Modern Philosophy
– Naturalism and Teleology in Spinoza’s Philosophy

About the music

‘It goes without saying that all these pieces mean a lot to me on a personal level. Being a (very amateurish) musician myself, they might also indicate how I aspire to play and improvise (so feel free to contact me if you like this music and want to have a jam). Trying to say something about these tunes, I feel torn between wanting to fill libraries and remaining silent. Anyway, I might mention three things that mark out most of these pieces as particularly beautiful (for me).

First, rhythmic intensity. All of the pieces are rhythmically exciting. Many of them (1, 2 , 4, 9) are obviously written in odd metres that challenge common expectations. But even in 8 and 10, though seemingly straight-forward, you will be in for surprises.

Second, complex chordal texture. Again, this should be obvious in most of the tunes, though 9 stands out in particular, where many of the chord functions are ambiguous and pull the imagination in several directions at once.

Third, repetition or minimalism. This might be most obvious in 3. After all, Steve Reich is often named as one of the inventors of minimal music. What’s so exiting about repetition? Well, for one thing, while you might still think the music is merely repetitive, it turns out to have changed all along – or maybe it’s your ears that have changed. And if one of the pieces is not repetitive enough, just listen again!’


In some cases Martin Lenz likes to refer to the versions that he likes best, not on Spotify but on Youtube.

1. Azure Moon – Yellow Jackets

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2. First Circle – Pat Metheny

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3. Music for 18 musicians – Steve Reich

4. In Gent – Schultzing

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5. Aurora – Oregon

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6. Se Per Havervi – Morten Lauridsen

7. King of Pain – The Police

8. Cracking – Suzanne Vega

9. White Line – Allan Holdsworth

10. Martha – Tom Waits