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Author Topic: The nature of music: round 7  (Read 7968 times)
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BFW
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« on: Apr 11, 2006, 08:11AM »

I am starting a new topic so as to avoid cluttering the rap topic with a side discussion.
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Brian

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« Reply #1 on: Apr 11, 2006, 08:23AM »

Quote from: "In another topic, RedHotMama"
You regard music as just notes and/or rhythms. That is *not* music, by my definition. I see nothing wrong with appreciating a set of musical notes, or indeed a set of rhythms, for their own value, but why the need to pretend that it's music?


Your statement about what I consider music is flawed.  I don't think it's "just" anything.  I don't think there is any musical work that I consider music but nobody else in the world does.

You apparently require "emotion" in order for it to be music.  What does that mean?  That you expect to have an emotional reaction?  That you expect everybody to have an emotional reaction?  That you expect the performers to feel emotional?  That you expect the composer to want to convey an emotion?  What if one or more of these isn't true?  What if none of them are true?

I don't have emotional reactions to music.  If you require that it be present, then music doesn't exist.  I write music, and I don't have any intention of conveying emotion.  If you require that, then what I wrote isn't music.  I don't feel emotional when I play.  If you require that, then anything I play isn't music.

The corner cases are difficult, as they are with any definition.  I think that people get stuck with some big-sounding, profound definition of music, and then cast out of it all sorts of things that anybody else would easily recognize as music.  I think, too, that people frequently confuse "music I like" with "music", or rather, "music I don't like" with "not music".  I don't like to do either of these things.  "Music I don't like" is vast, so I'd rather have a nice inclusive definition.
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Brian

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« Reply #2 on: Apr 11, 2006, 08:23AM »

I was just listening to the Benjamin Zander commentary on Mahler 1, wherein he was talking about how hard it is to represent nature in music. Apparently Mahler was trying to represent a warm summer afternoon in the end of the first movement of the First Symphony. I hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. He (Zander) also made some hay on the idea that Mahler was trying to represent a Cuckoo, but that a cuckoo sings in more or less a minor third, and Mahler used a major fourth. I'm still not sure what the point is there.

That's not what you're talking about, though, is it?
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« Reply #3 on: Apr 11, 2006, 08:29AM »

Quote from: "bickle"
how hard it is to represent nature in music


No, not quite what I meant!  Grin


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Mahler was trying to represent a Cuckoo, but that a cuckoo sings in more or less a minor third, and Mahler used a major fourth.


Perfect fourth, I assume.

The fact that Mahler and a host of others were trying to represent something explicitly does not imply that one must try to represent something explicitly in order for it to be music.

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That's not what you're talking about, though, is it?


No, but it's still relevant.
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Brian

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« Reply #4 on: Apr 11, 2006, 08:38AM »

Quote from: "BFW"
Perfect fourth, I assume.


Indeed yes. Quite right. Apparently the whole first movement of that symphony is built around a perfect fourth.

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The fact that Mahler and a host of others were trying to represent something explicitly does not imply that one must try to represent something explicitly in order for it to be music.


That's part of the debate, though. Mahler has apparently put forth an interpretive program for the music, rescinded it, called the symphony absolute, and endorsed others' programmatic interpretations. It's not quite what you and mama are arguing about, but it certainly throws a monkey wrench into the discussion of programmatic music.
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« Reply #5 on: Apr 11, 2006, 08:40AM »

Not sure where this topic is going. If we're trying to agree on a definition of music, Wiki has an interesting comment:
Quote
There is often disagreement over what constitutes "real" music: Mozart, Stravinsky, serialism, Jazz, rap, punk rock, and electronica have all been considered non-music at various times and places.


Can the people in the forum agree on the definition of 'music'? Is it based on culture? Time frame? Emotion? How can music be limited? And what is a 'music video' anyway? 200 years from now, will people still listen to Mozart? Eminem?
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BFW
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« Reply #6 on: Apr 11, 2006, 08:50AM »

Quote from: "PM"
If we're trying to agree on a definition of music, Wiki has an interesting comment:
Quote
There is often disagreement over what constitutes "real" music: Mozart, Stravinsky, serialism, Jazz, rap, punk rock, and electronica have all been considered non-music at various times and places.


Excellent comment, thanks for pointing it out.

Quote
Can the people in the forum agree on the definition of 'music'?


Unequivocally no!  Grin  But we do like to debate it from time to time.
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Brian

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« Reply #7 on: Apr 11, 2006, 08:51AM »

Quote from: "BFW"
 I don't have emotional reactions to music.  If you require that it be present, then music doesn't exist.  I write music, and I don't have any intention of conveying emotion.  If you require that, then what I wrote isn't music.  I don't feel emotional when I play.  If you require that, then anything I play isn't music.


Yes, I personally do require melody, harmony and emotion to be present in music, or at least, what comes under my definition of music. So, if these are not present in what you write or play, then IMO what you write is *not* music, but simply a set of mathematical progressions, and what you play is the equivalent of what is produced by a synthesiser. But hey, you like maths, so what's wrong with that?
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« Reply #8 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:02AM »

So then how do you define "melody" and "harmony"?
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« Reply #9 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:05AM »

Quote from: "RedHotMama"
Yes, I do require melody, harmony and emotion to be present in music. So, if these are not present in what you write or play, then IMO it is *not* music, but simply a set of mathematical progressions.


"Be present" how?  If you find yourself emotionally moved by something I wrote, is it music?  If I play something and you are moved but I am not, is it music?  What if I wrote something expecting you to find it happy but you find it sad, is it music?

And how do you determine that it is a set of mathematical progressions, rather than merely music?

Regarding melody and harmony, what about those other examples I gave that have neither melody nor harmony?  If harmony is required, is a person singing a song music?
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Brian

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Dennis K.
« Reply #10 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:05AM »

Brian,  This is something I've wanted to discuss with you agian.  I think my requirement of emotion is music has been effectively rebuffed Grin .  After all, there are no little molecules of emotion floating around waiting to be captured and codified by music notation.

but what about meaning in music? - specifically vocal music, but also by extension non-vocal music.
Words have strong conceptual meaning.  Rhythm can emphasize that meaning. Harmony and melody can further enhance and intensify (or obscure) that meaning.  But how so if there is nothing in the music other than the physics and math?
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« Reply #11 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:10AM »

Quote from: "BFW"
       If harmony is required, is a person singing a song music?


When I hear someone singing a song, my mind automatically provides harmony. Anyone who is required to improvise alongside a melody when they play or sing themselves will be doing that all the time.
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« Reply #12 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:13AM »

Quote from: "Dennis K."
   But how so if there is nothing in the music other than the physics and math?


If there is nothing in the "music" other than physics and maths, then that's what it is. Physics and maths. NOT music.
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Christine (red hot - that's what!)
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Frank B
« Reply #13 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:16AM »

So wait, monophony and heterophony are now not considered music?

They don't have harmony and it would not be either of these anymore if harmony was added.
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« Reply #14 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:19AM »

Is this music?
sqrt(b*b-4ac)/2a
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Dennis K.
« Reply #15 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:23AM »

Quote from: "RedHotMama"
Quote from: "Dennis K."
   But how so if there is nothing in the music other than the physics and math?


If there is nothing in the "music" other than physics and maths, then that's what it is. Physics and maths. NOT music.

Precisely!  Brian tends to see things from a mathematical point of view.  His view of music appears to be about the physical and mathematical properties of music.  His definition doesnt work for me, mine doesn't work for him.  so where do we find common ground?

PS - frequently, single line music implies a harmony - be it tonal or atonal.  I think RHM's definition would include implied harmony.  A chant implies harmony.  That low buzz from an electric transformer or the sound of a bus does not imply harmony.  Therefore, chant is music, a bus is not.  although a bus could be treated in a musical manner, in which case the bus would not have a fixed definition with regard to music, but instead depends on context
REVELATION!!! - that is the key! - context.
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Dennis K.
« Reply #16 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:27AM »

Quote from: "PM"
Is this music?
sqrt(b*b-4ac)/2a

In the context of this forum, no.  Can you provide a musical treatment of that formula?
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Frank B
« Reply #17 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:29AM »

Quote from: "Dennis K."
PS - frequently, single line music implies a harmony - be it tonal or atonal.


I'm not talking about western eurpoean "music" in all it's stuffiness and warped history.

I am specificially talking about two types of music found throughout the word throughout the ages. These two types are "classified" in our structure as monophony and heterophony. They involve no harmony, nor is it implied. If it is involved or even implied then it is no longer that type of music or classification (at least, in the head of the person implying the harmony). Your example of chant- in the early history of chant they did not have harmony- impied or otherwise- and it wasn't until the advent of organum that this happened. Chant does NOT imply harmony.
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Dennis K.
« Reply #18 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:35AM »

Quote from: "Frank B"
Quote from: "Dennis K."
PS - frequently, single line music implies a harmony - be it tonal or atonal.


I'm not talking about western eurpoean "music" in all it's stuffiness and warped history.

I am specificially talking about two types of music found throughout the word throughout the ages.


For example, mongolian throat singing?  Harmony can be implied in many way beyond western common practice.  Provide some examples, I'll provide a harmony.  Granted, it will be influenced by my western stuffiness, but I could probably infer some type of tonal center, as a basis for harmony.
Also, my quote was not intended to be limited to only diatonic euro-melodies.  I'll be mroe clear next time.
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« Reply #19 on: Apr 11, 2006, 09:35AM »

Quote from: "Frank B"
  These two types are "classified" in our structure as monophony and heterophony. They involve no harmony, nor is it implied.


OK, there's no harmony in these two formats (although I would still probably try to insert some, if I heard it). But they still require melody, yes? And I, personally, feel that they would undoubtedly be improved by the player(s) putting some feeling into the music, rather than their playing like machines.

So, perhaps I don't require melody, harmony AND emotion. But I certainly require at least two of these factors to be present before I call it music.
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