[OT] music and responsibility


    Sep 24 2006 | 9:02 am
    I'm looking for interesting personal stories, books, essays, letters, interviews, and all other media concerning the subject of music-making and responsibility. All suggestions and feedback will be appreciated.
    Specifically, I am curious how composers - especially those working with wordless music - deal with any feelings of responsibility to "do good in the world," especially if there is doubt that music in itself makes the world a better place.
    I am considering graduate study in electro-acoustic music, but before I spend two years with my favorite subject I have to resolve this nagging drive to make my work good and worthwhile. My current work is socially beneficial, past work has been environmentally useful... How do I appease my inner critic? How do I justify music in the harsh light of physical necessity? How can I express this dilemma more clearly?
    I am searching for a way to bring my love and my conscience together.
    Many thanks for any feedback,
    -Jon

    • Sep 24 2006 | 1:22 pm
      Yikes. You really hit one of my 'hot buttons', especially in today's happy world. I wrote this as a Guest Editorial for KEYBOARD magazine back in 1989:
      and there are quite a few others in a similar vein stashed here:
      "My Music Book" (http://music.columbia.edu/~brad/software/downloads/My_Music_Book.html) also has a fair amount of commentary about music/life/world, but being an integrated music-text work it's about a 400 Mbyte download.
      Good luck. I read through these older writings and it seems more that I was mainly attempting to justify my existence (as it seems you also are), but perhaps the fact of your existence in your particular manner is what really counts.
      On Sun, 24 Sep 2006, dlurk wrote:
      > > I'm looking for interesting personal stories, books, essays, letters, > interviews, and all other media concerning the subject of music-making and > responsibility. All suggestions and feedback will be appreciated. > > Specifically, I am curious how composers - especially those working with > wordless music - deal with any feelings of responsibility to "do good in the > world," especially if there is doubt that music in itself makes the world a > better place. > > I am considering graduate study in electro-acoustic music, but before I spend > two years with my favorite subject I have to resolve this nagging drive to > make my work good and worthwhile. My current work is socially beneficial, > past work has been environmentally useful... How do I appease my inner > critic? How do I justify music in the harsh light of physical necessity? > How can I express this dilemma more clearly? > > I am searching for a way to bring my love and my conscience together. > > Many thanks for any feedback, > > -Jon >
    • Sep 24 2006 | 4:48 pm
      > am searching for a way to bring my love and my conscience together.
      revenge?
    • Sep 24 2006 | 11:34 pm
      The following contains generalizations which don't apply to all musicians. I wish I could write more succinctly
      Someone once said to me, "music is the only language where more than one person can speak at the same time." I'll add that nearly everyone 'speaks' it. So, in a way music is probably the closest thing we have to peace.
      How do comics make the world better? I think there is something to be said for a subculture of people who munge their surroundings, themselves, and their beliefs and reflect it back into their surroundings, themselves, and what ever else they might believe in. It's a cleansing act and its contagious.
      Also, People work an awful lot. Many times they work toward honorable goals. Sometimes its to protect our freedom. sometimes its for a more secure future. For their families survival. for others to have an easier life. But many people also forget to partake in freedom, what they will do when they are secure.
      What they do is play music. I'm playing it, and if it looks fun, you can come sit next to me and play along!
      As for more "out there" music, I think the more we break away culturally, the more we can cross cultures and do it in a deep and meaningful way. I misheard a lyric the other day which inspired me. "such a strange note, it could bring back piece to the earth"
      thats what I can come up with for now. -matt
    • Sep 25 2006 | 4:58 am
      Reporters often ask me if there is any practical application to the technology I create. My answer is "Yes. Making art."
      Eric
      At 7:34 PM -0400 9/24/06, matthew aidekman wrote: >The following contains generalizations which don't apply to all >musicians. I wish I could write more succinctly > >Someone once said to me, "music is the only language where more than >one person can speak at the same time." I'll add that nearly >everyone 'speaks' it. So, in a way music is probably the closest >thing we have to peace. > >How do comics make the world better? I think there is something to >be said for a subculture of people who munge their surroundings, >themselves, and their beliefs and reflect it back into their >surroundings, themselves, and what ever else they might believe in. >It's a cleansing act and its contagious. > > > >Also, People work an awful lot. Many times they work toward >honorable goals. Sometimes its to protect our freedom. sometimes >its for a more secure future. For their families survival. for >others to have an easier life. But many people also forget to >partake in freedom, what they will do when they are secure. > >What they do is play music. I'm playing it, and if it looks fun, >you can come sit next to me and play along! > > > >As for more "out there" music, I think the more we break away >culturally, the more we can cross cultures and do it in a deep and >meaningful way. I misheard a lyric the other day which inspired >me. >"such a strange note, it could bring back piece to the earth" > >thats what I can come up with for now. >-matt
    • Sep 25 2006 | 6:58 pm
      Sometimes people tell me that they don't understand why use a computer to compose. I always answer..."That is correct."
      On 9/25/06 12:58 AM, "Eric Singer" wrote:
      > Reporters often ask me if there is any practical application to the > technology I create. My answer is "Yes. Making art." > > Eric
      Cheers Gary Lee Nelson Oberlin College www.timara.oberlin.edu/GaryLeeNelson
    • Sep 25 2006 | 11:43 pm
      I have recently been asking myself similar questions. I am not sure I ascribe (or comply) with all that follows, but here are some thoughts on the subject.
      The notion that each of us has a "purpose" may be of comfort to you if you can accept it. Certainly it can feel as if we are being selfish by doing the things we love to do, because part of us feels we don't deserve it, or that the world doesn't need another musician. But, an individual living out the full potential of what they were "meant" to be is precisely what the world does need. A vocation may appear small in the grand scheme of things, but perhaps our ability to measure grandness is faulty.
      Maybe your new pursuit is not an abandonment, let alone a betrayal, of you formal "nobler" occupations. Perhaps you will return someday to a job that more apparently benefits society or the earth. Or, better yet, perhaps you will discover a vocation that benefits from all your skills.
      Happy Philosophizing,
      -ian
    • Sep 26 2006 | 5:12 am
      I'd like to thank everyone who responded to my post, both on- and off-list. Your thoughts are meaningful and helpful (even "revenge"). Unfortunately I have a lot of business to do this week - the coming weekend will probably offer you a hideously verbose reply.
      Again, I really appreciate all the different perspectives on this topic; the variety was exactly what I was looking for, though I didn't realize it.
      Many thanks,
      Jon
    • Nov 22 2006 | 1:59 am
      After a marathon of day-job work and application preparation, I respond. Thanks to everyone that replied to the original thread. All of your thoughts were appreciated, including those that dismissed my doubt out of hand. It's all useful.
      Some time ago, Bradford Garton wrote: > Good luck. I read through these older writings and it seems more that I > was mainly attempting to justify my existence (as it seems you also > are),
      My existence justifies itself with my capability to do good, but my existence is not necessarily me, nor meaningful. I have to use that capability for something. Are there better kinds of good, and how much good is enough?
      It may help to understand that I currently live in a tiny (pop. fishing village in Alaska where survival is relatively sure but not much else is certain. I am surrounded by immediacy and many people here do not have the option or habit of thinking the way I do. That is part of why I live here now.
      Ah, philosophy. Take a hike. There's a reason I didn't just coast into grad school on the momentum of my undergrad degree... in philosophy (music and cs on the side).
      I know that to satisfy myself, I will have to keep trying to do things I think are good. I will also have to accomplish something occasionally to convince myself that the way I'm trying is, if not the best way, at least a passable way.
      > but perhaps the fact of your existence in your particular manner > is what really counts.
      This falls into the "teaching by example" category for me. It is murky and unconvincing to the practitioner, even if it is arguably the best method.
      Music has affected my life deeply. I surround myself with other people who feel the same way. Because of my intimacy with music, it's difficult for me to imagine what meaning it has to others. It's also difficult for me to imagine the effect of music on people who are not intentionally involved in creating sound. I am half-serious when I wonder how significant music can possibly be to someone who does not have a physical relationship to it, someone to whom music is merely ear candy and not sustenance mixed with an aural opiate.
      I have decided to apply to a few schools; I am using their application processes to stimulate my subconscious decision-making.
      Again, my thanks to everyone that replied previously (and anyone who might reply now).
      Best regards,
      Jon
    • Nov 22 2006 | 2:26 am
      On Nov 21, 2006, at 5:59 PM, dlurk wrote:
      > > Music has affected my life deeply. I surround myself with other > people who feel the same way. Because of my intimacy with music, > it's difficult for me to imagine what meaning it has to others. > It's also difficult for me to imagine the effect of music on people > who are not intentionally involved in creating sound. I am half- > serious when I wonder how significant music can possibly be to > someone who does not have a physical relationship to it, someone to > whom music is merely ear candy and not sustenance mixed with an > aural opiate.
      The practitioner has no greater claim to understanding than the attentive listener. I have zero ability at violin, yet can be moved by it. For an approachable yet thorough analysis of musical meaning I would highly recommend "Emotion and Meaning in Music" by Leonard Meyer.
      -Randy
    • Nov 22 2006 | 3:19 am
      I havent followed the thread, but that reasoning only a seasoned painter can really appreciate the lines of (insert any painter) or only an avid video gamer my combos in street fighter 3 3rd strike (sic). Music certainly moves me, more so than many other things. I have too have zero musical skill (or as close to none as possible).
      And P.S., I cant imagine anyone who doesnt have a physical relationship to music. Vibrations and all. Sorry to be overly literal, but sometimes the best cure for too much thinking is to stop and just start doing.
      v a d e //
      www.vade.info abstrakt.vade.info
      On Nov 21, 2006, at 9:26 PM, Randy Jones wrote:
      > > On Nov 21, 2006, at 5:59 PM, dlurk wrote: > >> >> Music has affected my life deeply. I surround myself with other >> people who feel the same way. Because of my intimacy with music, >> it's difficult for me to imagine what meaning it has to others. >> It's also difficult for me to imagine the effect of music on >> people who are not intentionally involved in creating sound. I am >> half-serious when I wonder how significant music can possibly be >> to someone who does not have a physical relationship to it, >> someone to whom music is merely ear candy and not sustenance mixed >> with an aural opiate. > > The practitioner has no greater claim to understanding than the > attentive listener. I have zero ability at violin, yet can be > moved by it. For an approachable yet thorough analysis of musical > meaning I would highly recommend "Emotion and Meaning in Music" by > Leonard Meyer. > > -Randy >
    • Nov 22 2006 | 3:33 am
      Quote: dlurk wrote on Tue, 21 November 2006 20:59 ---------------------------------------------------- Because of my intimacy with music, it's difficult for me to imagine what meaning it has to others. It's also difficult for me to imagine the effect of music on people who are not intentionally involved in creating sound. I am half-serious when I wonder how significant music can possibly be to someone who does not have a physical relationship to it, someone to whom music is merely ear candy and not sustenance mixed with an aural opiate. ----------------------------------------------------
      It's all about the communication of meaning, isn't it? The question is whether you as a composer of any form of art or media can communicate meaning to anyone who makes the effort to consume your work. The meanings, the significations, the emotions, the intellectual stimulation, etc. they take from it may not be anything you intended, but that's the way it works. We humans communicate in many ways and for many reasons. But we communicate, we build community, we look for order, discover, learn, teach, etc. My life is enriched by having a conversation (friend, foe, relative), reading a poem (ancient or modern), eating a meal that comes to me from a long list of hands, reading a thread on this forum, or hearing music (whether its Brahms in a recital hall, Corelli in an elevator, Cole Porter in a noisy club, your music). Every producer of something can make the communication meaningful merely by taking the responsibility of doing it well seriously enough. Of course I can glean more depth of meaning and impact from reading Rilke than from a paper handed in by one of my students--the meaning is more profound, and its communication more expertly done, more precise, transparent, artistic, etc. But I certainly don't tune out the more mundane communications that come to me on a more daily basis.
      Also, I could never dream to be able to paint, and consequently, I know precious little about it (and I'm colorblind to boot). But that doesn't mean in the least that an artist's work is wasted on me! In fact, the work of painters is very significant in my experience.
      In my opinion, one is attracted to a means of expression because of some affinity, and that affinity should be explored and developed. You will only communicate meaning with it more effectively and profoundly with greater training and involvement. I don't say you have a responsibility to do that, or even that you have a responsibility to offer anything at all. Many live their entire lives mostly consuming and contributing little. No matter. You probably have good connections with the 49 other folks in your town. Do you have a responsibility to connect with human civilization on a larger scale? Of course not. I say you choose your path as you walk it. The important question is where are you drawn. And if that is to a grad program, then that's great--only you must be realistic about the details of that and whether it will work for you, but only you can make that determination.
      Last, my opinion is that anyone who can center his life around the things he loves the most lives the fullest, and has the most to offer the world.
      Tim
    • Nov 22 2006 | 5:58 am
      vade wrote: > I havent followed the thread, but that reasoning only a seasoned painter > can really appreciate the lines of (insert any painter) or only an avid > video gamer my combos in street fighter 3 3rd strike (sic). Music > certainly moves me, more so than many other things. I have too have zero > musical skill (or as close to none as possible).
      For my interest in this off-topic discussion, this is pretty off-topic.
      I can only blame my communication skills... or maybe I'm more wrong than I know... but what I was trying to say was this:
      For me, my own experience as a composer or songwriter is part of how I experience other music or even just isolated sounds.
      Because my perspective is my own, it's difficult to imagine how others perceive and experience, and from there it is difficult to imagine what others draw from their experiences. I'm not classing myself as a music-maker and wondering how non-music-makers listen; I'm wondering how other people who aren't me listen. Perhaps it is a kind of poverty, but for me there are very few analogous experiences. A particular first kiss, a near-death experience, and a few more of the most intense moments of my life... What compares? Exceptional music. And why?
      > And P.S., I cant imagine anyone who doesnt have a physical relationship > to music. Vibrations and all. Sorry to be overly literal, but sometimes > the best cure for too much thinking is to stop and just start doing.
      Maybe that's why. No, literal thinking is where I am comfortable with this stuff, that's one of my favorite things about sound. It is so real and yet it is so ethereal. But that's exactly why it's confusing.
      On one hand, I need to make music. On the other, I can't enjoy that unless I feel like there's a point to my life other than my own satisfaction - but that is the Why of why I make music, and it is such a great satisfaction. I know I need to learn and improve, and my decision to explore more education comes from the knowledge that a trial by fire of my music and software and my love for it all would help my efforts tremendously. But what good does that do for anyone else? Can I justify the resources that go into it?
      Going to school is a bet that if I find no inherent justification, I can create one and make it real. That's going to be the most formidable challenge, assuming I'm accepted anywhere. ;)
    • Nov 22 2006 | 6:46 am
      This seems pretty straight forward to me.
      You love music. You love listening to it. Others do as well (if you are to believe them, and me..).
      So make great music (or learn how to), so that others will love and enjoy it, and you have done good for someone else. Is that justification enough?
      v a d e //
      www.vade.info abstrakt.vade.info
      On Nov 22, 2006, at 12:58 AM, dlurk wrote:
      > > On one hand, I need to make music. On the other, I can't enjoy > that unless I feel like there's a point to my life other than my > own satisfaction - but that is the Why of why I make music, and it > is such a great satisfaction. I know I need to learn and improve, > and my decision to explore more education comes from the knowledge > that a trial by fire of my music and software and my love for it > all would help my efforts tremendously. But what good does that do > for anyone else? Can I justify the resources that go into it? >
    • Nov 22 2006 | 10:03 am
      if you want to make a difference, and better understand the direct effects of your music and methods on others, teaching music/maxmsp may be a good direction for you. that way you can satisfy your own inner desires and at the same time contribute to the advancement of others.
      otherwise, if you want to make a difference in life... there is always charity work, NGOs, the peace core... but its very difficult to predict the effect that your life and passions will have on others, isn't it? and many artists are long dead before their work is appreciated; many were not able to appreciate that fact even when they were alive and respected. others were over-appreciated and then promptly forgotten (we all know Kafka, but Max Brod?? http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Brod).
      i guess what i'm trying to say is that going back and trying to justify something as arbitrary as your own existence is a slow form of committing suicide. it's not like you're destroying the rain forest or contaminating the town drinking water by becoming a musician, think about it that way. and you can still spend weekends at the soup kitchen if you feel guilty about your positive contribution to society. and sure, you'll be in debt for years, but debt is a good motivator to get things done. :)
      to paraphrase one of the great philosophers of the 20th century, "Fuck it Dude, let's go bowling."
      (substitute your passion in life for "go bowling")
      peace evan
      On Nov 22, 2006, at 5:58 AM, dlurk wrote:
      > vade wrote: >> I havent followed the thread, but that reasoning only a seasoned >> painter can really appreciate the lines of (insert any painter) or >> only an avid video gamer my combos in street fighter 3 3rd strike >> (sic). Music certainly moves me, more so than many other things. I >> have too have zero musical skill (or as close to none as possible). > > For my interest in this off-topic discussion, this is pretty off- > topic. > > I can only blame my communication skills... or maybe I'm more wrong > than I know... but what I was trying to say was this: > > For me, my own experience as a composer or songwriter is part of > how I experience other music or even just isolated sounds. > > Because my perspective is my own, it's difficult to imagine how > others perceive and experience, and from there it is difficult to > imagine what others draw from their experiences. I'm not classing > myself as a music-maker and wondering how non-music-makers listen; > I'm wondering how other people who aren't me listen. Perhaps it is > a kind of poverty, but for me there are very few analogous > experiences. A particular first kiss, a near-death experience, and > a few more of the most intense moments of my life... What > compares? Exceptional music. And why? > >> And P.S., I cant imagine anyone who doesnt have a physical >> relationship to music. Vibrations and all. Sorry to be overly >> literal, but sometimes the best cure for too much thinking is to >> stop and just start doing. > > Maybe that's why. No, literal thinking is where I am comfortable > with this stuff, that's one of my favorite things about sound. It > is so real and yet it is so ethereal. But that's exactly why it's > confusing. > > On one hand, I need to make music. On the other, I can't enjoy > that unless I feel like there's a point to my life other than my > own satisfaction - but that is the Why of why I make music, and it > is such a great satisfaction. I know I need to learn and improve, > and my decision to explore more education comes from the knowledge > that a trial by fire of my music and software and my love for it > all would help my efforts tremendously. But what good does that do > for anyone else? Can I justify the resources that go into it? > > Going to school is a bet that if I find no inherent justification, > I can create one and make it real. That's going to be the most > formidable challenge, assuming I'm accepted anywhere. ;)
    • Nov 22 2006 | 3:53 pm
      dlurk wrote: > My existence justifies itself with my capability to do good, but my > existence is not necessarily me, nor meaningful. I have to use that > capability for something. Are there better kinds of good, and how much > good is enough?
      Simply the best you can do, if you can do music the best, then its your responsibility to do music, if its charity, do charity...
      You got your skills to use them...
      Charity is not better than anything else. I believe that life makes sense, even if I don't know the sense and never can grab it. As beside music obviously philosophy is also one of your skills, I would never advise you to "just do it and don't think about it". Its better to say "just do it" (including thinking about it)... And never loose contact to your emotions, they lead... Do not put down your doubts, understand what is behind, then you can transcend them...
      Stefan
      -- Stefan Tiedje------------x------- --_____-----------|-------------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()------- -- _|_)----|-----()-------------- ----------()--------www.ccmix.com
    • Nov 23 2006 | 7:56 am
      > "Emotion and Meaning in Music" by Leonard Meyer.
      ... second worst book on music ever written, after Tame's 'The Secret Power of Music'. IMO.
      -- J. Simon van der Walt ----- Composer
    • Nov 23 2006 | 8:53 am
      I often wonder if technological music is an extreme path far away from what originally was thought of music. Is music something people play together or something someone does alone. I know personally I enjoy music where multiple people are all working towards a similar goal... this may be because I get bored easily and the more cooks who contribute to the recipe the more deviations and alternate perceptions of the music you can experience. Then I think what about classical music composers who made these crazy emotional pieces of sound that move any who listen... so I guess I'm confused... ultimately it's expression. Computers are completely inorganic. The world is polluted by the processes that create them. The first computer Eniac?? I think was made to calculate trajectories for missles. Can any good become of something that was originally created to destroy? For me most of my life is inspired by electronic music and sounds of which are virtually impossible to create organically. I would say conscious music creates conscious actions no matter what is the context or medium of expression. Today anyways.
    • Nov 23 2006 | 11:39 am
    • Nov 23 2006 | 12:04 pm
      > > >>The first computer Eniac?? I think was made to calculate >>trajectories for missles. Can any good become of something that >>was originally created to destroy? > >You are right on this. >Traditional music instruments were never used to bring people to make war. >Assault were never made at the sound of a clairon. >It's ridiculous to think that hornpipes could have been played >during fightings.
      never forget the snare drums!! think about saxophones (invented so they could be played when riding a horse, and heard from a distance - much moer difficult with a oboe!!)
      and when you think about it, wasn't the PA system first used/set up (invented) so the spechees of Adolf Hitler could be heard???
      time to go back to this acoustic luth and theorbe project i guess.........
      best
      kasper -- Kasper T. Toeplitz noise, composition, bass, computer http://www.sleazeArt.com
    • Nov 23 2006 | 12:28 pm
      And I think that stringed instuments derive from arc and arrows.
      All the best
      Alessandro Fogar
      2006/11/23, Nick Rothwell : > > On 23 Nov 2006, at 11:39, Jean-Michel Darrémont wrote: > > > Traditional music instruments were never used to bring people to > > make war. > > Bagpipes. > > > nick rothwell -- composition, systems, performance -- http:// > www.cassiel.com > > > > >
    • Nov 23 2006 | 1:37 pm
      On Nov 23, 2006, at 3:53 AM, Tyler Nitsch wrote: > I know personally I enjoy music where multiple people are all > working towards a similar goal...
      It is possible with computers... http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue? jid=OSO&volumeId=9&issueId=03
      One contemporary incarnation... http://plork.cs.princeton.edu/
      My personal association with the topic... http://www.mobileperformancegroup.com
      ----- Nathan Wolek nw@nathanwolek.com http://www.nathanwolek.com
    • Nov 23 2006 | 1:57 pm
      >On Nov 23, 2006, at 3:53 AM, Tyler Nitsch wrote: >>I know personally I enjoy music where multiple people are all >>working towards a similar goal... > >It is possible with computers... >http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=OSO&volumeId=9&issueId=03 >
      I personnaly did quite some computers duos, as well as some bigger projects - including a 6 hour long piece for 4 computer-players
      and of course you can play computer with people playing other instruments (from duo up to orchestra & computer - live & real-time)
      best
      kasper
    • Nov 23 2006 | 2:02 pm
      > Traditional music instruments were never used to bring people to make > war.
      what makes a piano or MAXMSP less traditional than wardrums?
      how can we be sure that the first drum human made has not been used to prepare for a battle against the neighbour clan?
      you might say the first drum has been made by accident, and has only been used to impress women or pray for rain, but do you have proofs?
      i have proofs thaat MAXMSP was originally created to control laser guns but thats another story.
      - subversive 110
    • Nov 23 2006 | 2:25 pm
    • Nov 23 2006 | 2:39 pm
    • Nov 23 2006 | 8:20 pm
      Damn north american literature always saying it was invented in the states first and foremost..... I read that from a book one of my Professors wrote on the origins of signal processing. Peter thanks for clarifying this. ps I'm Canadian not american hahaha
    • Nov 23 2006 | 9:42 pm
      On 23-Nov-2006, at 21:20, Tyler Nitsch wrote:
      > ps I'm Canadian not american hahaha
      Ooooooooooops!
      Good think I remembered not to launch into that rant!-) Even better that you have a sense of humor.
      BTW, the Wikipedia article on History of Computing Machinery does a good job of evaluating the merits of the German, British, and American claims to 'first', noting that it's partly a definition of what counts as 'earliest computer'. It also points out that with a war going on there wasn't a lot of academic exchange between the parties concerned.
      -------------- http://www.bek.no/~pcastine/Litter/ ------------- Peter Castine +--> Litter Power & Litter Bundle for Jitter Universal Binaries on the way iCE: Sequencing, Recording & Interface Building for |home | chez nous| Max/MSP Extremely cool |bei uns | i nostri| http://www.dspaudio.com/ http://www.castine.de
    • Nov 23 2006 | 11:55 pm
    • Nov 24 2006 | 1:23 am
      Sebastien, you brought this thread full-circle in a lovely way. Thanks!
      -Jon
      Sebastian.Rivas wrote: > Nowadays it is more difficult for me to see the range of action of > non-commercial music. But I think that the way it generates a plus-value > which is very difficult to calculate, makes it a field of resistance > that i appreciate. It is economically useless but socially and > individually usefull.
    • Nov 24 2006 | 2:58 pm
    • Nov 25 2006 | 10:24 pm
      I'd be interested to hear some background on this response to the Meyer...
      On Nov 23, 2006, at 12:56 AM, J. Simon van der Walt wrote:
      > >> "Emotion and Meaning in Music" by Leonard Meyer. > > ... second worst book on music ever written, after Tame's 'The > Secret Power > of Music'. IMO. > > > -- > J. Simon van der Walt ----- Composer > >
      ---- Steven M. Miller
      Associate Professor of Contemporary Music College of Santa Fe Contemporary Music Program 1600 St. Michaels Drive Santa Fe NM 87505 http://pubweb.csf.edu/~smill (505) 473-6197
      SFIFEM Atrium Sound Space OVOS http://sfifem.csf.edu http://atrium.csf.edu http://pubweb.csf.edu/ ~smill/ovos.html
    • Nov 26 2006 | 3:45 am
      My take on the issue of culture and militancy partly is written down in paper3.pdf, perhaps more eloquent than I'd be just typing what comes to mind:
      Now for typing what comes to mind:
      I think making useless things is very human, if by useless we refer to things that are not at all required for our survival, or even for our comfort. Art could be defined as the search for new and better ways to make us feel uncomfortable. Without it, life is much less interesting.
      If music and art art are useless things because they don't make any great changes in hunger, disease, or poverty, they do at least measure the possibilities of what to do after hunger, disease and poverty have been vanquished. We need to work on producing art and on changing the world, but these tasks don't necessarily happen in the same time frames. We carry culture across generations, but our neighbors' affliction may need a remedy right now.
      I am skeptical of the effectiveness of most political advocacy in art, not because it is insincere--it is almost always serious in its in intent and frequently capable of arousing our emotions and desires for change--but because it is usually in a position of preaching to the choir. It is fine to make your art express your convictions, but that is not the same as acting on your convictions.
      Upon meeting "political" artists, I feel compelled to proclaim art for art's sake; when meeting artists of great aesthetic purity, I feel the urge to start a political argument.
      There is no reason you can't be an artist and also a political activist. Produce art in the morning, organize in the afternoon, and enjoy the revolution in the evening.
      Being an artist also means acquiring a craft. Putting your craft at the service of your convictions is one way of being an activist, and in no way diminishes the aspiration to a work of great formal beauty, if that is what you pursue. It should be possible to do both.
      I f you really feel the need to combine your art with your social consciousness, the work of Paolo Freire in education and that of artists involved in "cultural animation" may suggest an approach to art-making that puts the artist at the service of the community. It's one that may require letting go of the privileges of being an auteur, a person with special gifts, but I would suggest it as a viable alternative both to "political art" and to the production of commodity art.
      -- Paul
      On 9/24/06, dlurk wrote: > > I'm looking for interesting personal stories, books, essays, letters, > interviews, and all other media concerning the subject of music-making > and responsibility. All suggestions and feedback will be appreciated. > > Specifically, I am curious how composers - especially those working with > wordless music - deal with any feelings of responsibility to "do good in > the world," especially if there is doubt that music in itself makes the > world a better place. > > I am considering graduate study in electro-acoustic music, but before I > spend two years with my favorite subject I have to resolve this nagging > drive to make my work good and worthwhile. My current work is socially > beneficial, past work has been environmentally useful... How do I > appease my inner critic? How do I justify music in the harsh light of > physical necessity? How can I express this dilemma more clearly? > > I am searching for a way to bring my love and my conscience together. > > Many thanks for any feedback, > > -Jon >
      -- ----- |(*,+,#,=)(#,=,*,+)(=,#,+,*)(+,*,=,#)| -----
    • Nov 26 2006 | 1:57 pm
      Steven,
      >>> "Emotion and Meaning in Music" by Leonard Meyer. >> >> ... second worst book on music ever written, after Tame's 'The >> Secret Power >> of Music'. IMO.
      > I'd be interested to hear some background on this response to the > Meyer...
      Erm, well. Yes. That's one of those postings one makes and then regrets instantly after pressing the 'send' button. Like, I know I don't actually have time to justify my opinion in this forum, so I should have just shut up. In essence, I don't personally believe music has got much to do with emotion at all, and in arguments which seek to privilege the importance of emotion within music really really tend to piss me off bigtime. I haven't looked at the book in a long time, though, so I really can't say much more about it just now.
      Cheers,
      -- J. Simon van der Walt ----- Composer
    • Nov 28 2006 | 4:28 am
      Hi Simon,
      Thanks for the reply. I'm just curious when folks make those sorts of 'big pronouncements'... ;)
      I happen to agree that music has nothing inherently more to do with emotion than it does with intellect, intuition, etc., though it's hard to deny that the typical response to a wide range of musics - contemporary as well as historical, both 'Western' and 'non- Western' (for lack of quicker shorthand) - involves emotional affect. The thing I like about "Emotion and Meaning" - as well as several sections of his later "Music, the Arts, and Ideas" - is his clarity about the fact that *any* meaning we attribute to music, whether emotional, intellectual, etc., is a product of our perception of and conditioned response to patterns, expectations, etc. - i.e. none of the meaning is integral to or inherent within the music itself. It is rather a cultural construct built up around the experience of music. He uses a fair amount of borrowings from both information theory and gestalt psychology to set up his thesis - and profitably so, IMHO.
      I also like that, whether he intends it to or not, his theory jibes just fine with centuries of theoretical and aesthetic writings on music from India, Java, and elsewhere, for example, concerning the very fine shadings of emotional affect appropriate to specific scales, rhythms, tuning systems, etc., as long as one understands that, again, it's all cultural construct and not somehow directly encoded in or otherwise "inside" the music itself.
      For another (largely compatible though quite different) take on these ideas, I recommend "Musicking" by Christopher Small. His thesis is that music is not a noun at all, but rather a verb, an activity - and that the meaning(s) we ascribe to music are a result of our social roles in experiencing it - expectations, interactions, assumptions, etc. These, again, are culturally conditioned.
      But, as for Tame's book...well, that's another story... ;)
      Best,
      Steven
      On Nov 26, 2006, at 6:57 AM, J. Simon van der Walt wrote:
      > Steven, > >>>> "Emotion and Meaning in Music" by Leonard Meyer. >>> >>> ... second worst book on music ever written, after Tame's 'The >>> Secret Power >>> of Music'. IMO. > >> I'd be interested to hear some background on this response to the >> Meyer... > > Erm, well. Yes. That's one of those postings one makes and then > regrets > instantly after pressing the 'send' button. Like, I know I don't > actually > have time to justify my opinion in this forum, so I should have > just shut > up. In essence, I don't personally believe music has got much to do > with > emotion at all, and in arguments which seek to privilege the > importance of > emotion within music really really tend to piss me off bigtime. I > haven't > looked at the book in a long time, though, so I really can't say > much more > about it just now. > > Cheers, >
      ---- Steven M. Miller
      Associate Professor of Contemporary Music College of Santa Fe Contemporary Music Program 1600 St. Michaels Drive Santa Fe NM 87505 http://pubweb.csf.edu/~smill (505) 473-6197
      SFIFEM Atrium Sound Space OVOS http://sfifem.csf.edu http://atrium.csf.edu http://pubweb.csf.edu/ ~smill/ovos.html
    • Nov 28 2006 | 6:19 am
      Steven,
      Interesting. I may have to give the book another go, and have a look at the Christopher Small book as well.
      Cheers,
      JS
    • Nov 28 2006 | 10:47 pm
      J. Simon van der Walt wrote: > In essence, I don't personally believe music has got much to do with > emotion at all, and in arguments which seek to privilege the > importance of emotion within music really really tend to piss me off > bigtime. I haven't looked at the book in a long time, though, so I > really can't say much more about it just now.
      That is an interesting point... I believe, the reception of music has nothing to do with believes, only with experience. My experience is the opposite, music which doesn't touch me personally is not interesting. But I can't tell anything about it, because if it doesn't touch me (ment emotionally by the way, even if I love intellectual aspects of music, it's love and thus emotion...), I can only assume I didn't understand the aim (emotion) which is behind it. Purely rational music doesn't exist. I could prove that this is a fact and not a believe...
      You might refer to "music" which claims to have a certain emotion, but thats usually not music, its kitsch, its an emotional lie. Most music for commercials, some film music etc. could fall into that category. Its based on the assumption that you could push emotional buttons on humans to control and manipulate them...
      Please do not regret that you hit the send button, I love essential discussions (bah - attention another emotion... ;-)
      Stefan
      -- Stefan Tiedje------------x------- --_____-----------|-------------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()------- -- _|_)----|-----()-------------- ----------()--------www.ccmix.com
    • Nov 29 2006 | 2:41 am
      Stefan Tiedje wrote: > Purely rational music doesn't exist. I could prove that this is a fact > and not a believe...
      Tangent 73: The intersection with linguistics here is fascinating. I assume someone has spent some time on this - any comments?
    • Nov 29 2006 | 6:19 am
      >> In essence, I don't personally believe music has got much to do with >> emotion at all .... > > Simon, > > Just a non polemic question: > What else?
      Maybe...
      Interestingness Coolness Cleverness Funkiness/groove/rhythmicity Originality/novelty/historicity Showing off/performance Playfulness
    • Nov 29 2006 | 6:35 am
      Stefan,
      > You might refer to "music" which claims to have a certain emotion, but > thats usually not music, its kitsch, its an emotional lie. Most music > for commercials, some film music etc. could fall into that category. > Its based on the assumption that you could push emotional buttons on > humans to control and manipulate them... >
      That's part of what bothers me about the 'music and emotion' argument. Like, I teach a music and film class, but apart from the potentially huge amounts of cash involved, I might not be particularly interested in writing music for a film. It's a /trivial/ problem, in the sense of a trivial problem in science; not an interesting or deeply challenging task, just pushing well-known now-feel-happy now-feel-sad now-feel-excited musical buttons.
      Thing is, these days I realise I feel the same sense of, umm, emotional cheapness when I listen to the supposedly expressive parts of the classical canon as I do when I listen to a Hollywood film score.
      JS
    • Nov 29 2006 | 8:31 am
      J. Simon van der Walt wrote: > > That's part of what bothers me about the 'music and emotion' argument. Like, > I teach a music and film class, but apart from the potentially huge amounts > of cash involved, I might not be particularly interested in writing music > for a film. Maybe because you don't have the inspiration or the will to make something better than what you describe. You're not forced to write the same bullshit as everyone else. They will ask for this shit, for sure, but you'll think a little, and you'll do something else. For you, for people, for the movie, for god's sake. Now i wonder how you could teach something you're not involved in (?). It's also a trivial problem that film scores are not well considered at all by the so called 'real' composers/teachers. That's often because nobody asked them do write one. I don't like it either and i don't have a dozen good film scores i like as examples, but that is not a problem between music & movies. Writing for movies is one of the most interesting challenge for a composer, especially because you'll have to avoid being such ridiculous. > It's a /trivial/ problem, in the sense of a trivial problem in > science; not an interesting or deeply challenging task, just pushing > well-known now-feel-happy now-feel-sad now-feel-excited musical buttons. > There's no more interesting challenge than to get rid of this. This conception of film score is for bad directors, bad producers & bad composers. They are a lot.
      I saw "the new world" by T.Malick last night and it's a perfect example of what you say. One of the most horrible soundtrack of all times (150 000 $ at least, for John Horner only). Terrifying orchestration (suffer to the horrible duets for horn and different things at the very beginning, for example), no ideas at all (or bad ones : the chromatic ends of the piano theme in the middle, arghhhhhhh)... Film scores only work when they are not supposed to underscore the pictures (your emotion buttons). Unfortunately, most of them do. I the case of Malick, i wonder how he could have agreed with this bullshit which is devastating all his movie... But in LA, it's not the director's matter but the producer's one.
      After the opening of my first picture, years ago, the director introduced me to people as the composer. They said : "ahem, ohh, it was music ? Wonderfull, really... This theater is so charming, don't you think ? " because they were expecting the kind of score you're talking about. And it took years (and it's not finished) for people to understand it could be something different. So what you should take care of : don't say film scoring is awfull but film scoring is awfully done. It's your responsability as a teacher not to write such trivial conceptions on such a forum. > Thing is, these days I realise I feel the same sense of, umm, emotional > cheapness when I listen to the supposedly expressive parts of the classical > canon as I do when I listen to a Hollywood film score. > Ohh, if you're not ravaged by Bach, so maybe you're lost for music :-)
      best
      f.e > JS > > > > >
      -- f.e chanfrault | aka | personal computer music > >>>>>> http://www.personal-computer-music.com > >>>>>> |sublime music for a desperate people|
    • Nov 29 2006 | 6:37 pm
      On Nov 28, 2006, at 3:47 PM, Stefan Tiedje wrote:
      > > I believe, the reception of music has > nothing to do with believes, only with experience.
      Does not experience lead to beliefs, in the sense that expectations are formed by experience? Unless you mean 'beliefs' in the sense of 'biases' or 'preconceptions' i.e. unfounded a priori assumptions about something - which is a different thing. All perception & cognition involves filters based on experience - 'beliefs' or expectations about what's relevant, what one is *likely* to experience in a given context, etc. Research has shown, in fact, that these filters are both necessary (essentially a form of noise reduction and bandwidth reduction in the perceptual process) and often the source of cognitive dissonance - all at the same time.
      > My experience is the > opposite, music which doesn't touch me personally is not interesting. > But I can't tell anything about it, because if it doesn't touch me > (ment > emotionally by the way, even if I love intellectual aspects of music, > it's love and thus emotion...), I can only assume I didn't understand > the aim (emotion) which is behind it.
      I think there might be some confusion between intention vs. reception (for lack of easier handles) - are we talking about emotion intentionally expressed through music, or a listener having an emotional response upon experiencing music? These are not at all synonymous! It is entirely possible for a given intent to be experienced by the listener completely differently, of course. The crux of my earlier post is, however, relevant here: *whatever* meaning (emotional, intellectual, etc.) we experience in response to music is, in fact, a product of the cultural conditioning go the listener - the meaning resides at the intersection of the listener, the music, and the cultural context, it is not inherent within the music itself.
      > Purely rational music doesn't exist. I could prove that this is a fact > and not a believe...
      Again, do you mean 'purely rational' in the construction of it, and perhaps the composer's intent, or in the experiencing of it? It is not at all clear from your writing which you mean, or indeed whether you are separating them out. This is not a minor point!
      ---- Steven M. Miller
      Associate Professor of Contemporary Music College of Santa Fe Contemporary Music Program 1600 St. Michaels Drive Santa Fe NM 87505 http://pubweb.csf.edu/~smill (505) 473-6197
      SFIFEM Atrium Sound Space OVOS http://sfifem.csf.edu http://atrium.csf.edu http://pubweb.csf.edu/ ~smill/ovos.html
    • Nov 30 2006 | 7:02 am
      J. Simon van der Walt wrote: > Thing is, these days I realise I feel the same sense of, umm, emotional > cheapness when I listen to the supposedly expressive parts of the classical > canon as I do when I listen to a Hollywood film score.
      I completely agree! But thats the challange and a good reason to make music. Fill the gaps avoid the crap(s). And if you listen to good music, its usually not feeding the expectations in the first place. As in all art, most is crap, but thats not what you're after. Never blame the style, the explanations, the tools if somethings bad. You might exclude valuable stepstones for creating good music (in your personal sense good music). If somebody who claims to make emotional music, creates crap, its crap and has nothing to do with emotional music... The conclusion that aiming emotions creates crap is wrong.
      Stefan
      -- Stefan Tiedje------------x------- --_____-----------|-------------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()------- -- _|_)----|-----()-------------- ----------()--------www.ccmix.com
    • Nov 30 2006 | 7:05 am
      J. Simon van der Walt wrote: > Maybe... > > Interestingness
      is an emotion
      > Coolness
      is a fashion and thus meaningless
      > Cleverness
      is a problem for the clever ones (listeners and creators alike)
      > Funkiness/groove/rhythmicity
      basic musical categories usually used to trigger fashionable emotions
      > Originality/novelty/historicity
      won't last till next weekend exept for historicity, but you don't live long enough for the proove and can't judge it at the moment you're listening...
      > Showing off/performance
      belongs to the circus of emotions (I love it)
      > Playfulness
      all music is part of a game...
      All your categories seem to trigger your emotions...
      Just a matter of taste, but you knew that didn't you???
      Stefan
      -- Stefan Tiedje------------x------- --_____-----------|-------------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()------- -- _|_)----|-----()-------------- ----------()--------www.ccmix.com
    • Nov 30 2006 | 8:19 am
      Stefan,
      > All your categories seem to trigger your emotions...
      I don't think of it like that. For me as a composer I don't find linking emotions and music as an interesting or creativily profitable approach, and I am not convinced by analyses which seek to do so.
      JS
    • Nov 30 2006 | 10:26 am
      f.e.
      I feel slightly attacked! But I think we agree on some things; that some (perhaps a lot of) movies have unimaginative, formulaic music, which sounds just the same as the last movie made in that style.
      And that there surely must be other ways. I gave my students an exercise the other day; they had a short student film to look at, called 'Little Waltz'. The soundtrack was the Leonard Cohen song 'Take This Waltz', which the filmmaker couldn't get clearance for, so would be looking for something similar. Off they all went writing perfectly nice waltzes, except for one student who did something *completely different*; just a kind of sad tune, not even in 3/4. It was brilliant and fitted perfectly, despite going clean against the brief.
      > Now i wonder how you could teach > something you're not involved in (?).
      Shit happens. I didn't particularly set out to teach the unit, but we really wanted to include it in our course and all my colleagues agreed that I would be best placed to teach it. I've done a lot of research into it, I'm open with my students about my lack of real experience in the field, and it seems to have gone well so far. (I've heard worse. A prominent academic friend of mine will gleefully tell you that, at least in his view, and in a university environment, it is possible to teach anything, even a subject you know nothing about. He quotes with approval a lecturer of his who, for a joke or a bet or something, took a semester of a Portuguese class, not knowing the language at all.)
      > So what you should take care > of : don't say film scoring is awfull but film scoring is awfully done. > It's your responsability as a teacher not to write such trivial > conceptions on such a forum.
      That wasn't quite what I said. I got myself in this gentle flame war by saying that arguments about music and emotion were awfully done.
      > Ohh, if you're not ravaged by Bach, so maybe you're lost for music :-)
      Yeah, possibly. I heard the Brandenburg Concerto no 6 on the car radio this morning, and I had to turn it off. Mind you, that piece always struck me as a bit duff; if it had been Brandenburg 2 it might have been a different story!
      Cheers,
      JS
    • Nov 30 2006 | 11:13 am
      Hello JS,
      J. Simon van der Walt wrote: > f.e. > > I feel slightly attacked! Don't do. > But I think we agree on some things; that some > (perhaps a lot of) movies have unimaginative, formulaic music, which sounds > just the same as the last movie made in that style. > > And that there surely must be other ways. I gave my students an exercise the > other day; they had a short student film to look at, called 'Little Waltz'. > The soundtrack was the Leonard Cohen song 'Take This Waltz', which the > filmmaker couldn't get clearance for, so would be looking for something > similar. Off they all went writing perfectly nice waltzes, except for one > student who did something *completely different*; just a kind of sad tune, > not even in 3/4. It was brilliant and fitted perfectly, despite going clean > against the brief. > That student is the one ! What was the orchestration ? > >> Now i wonder how you could teach >> something you're not involved in (?). >> > > Shit happens. I didn't particularly set out to teach the unit, but we really > wanted to include it in our course and all my colleagues agreed that I would > be best placed to teach it. I've done a lot of research into it, I'm open > with my students about my lack of real experience in the field, and it seems > to have gone well so far. (I've heard worse. A prominent academic friend of > mine will gleefully tell you that, at least in his view, and in a university > environment, it is possible to teach anything, even a subject you know > nothing about. He quotes with approval a lecturer of his who, for a joke or > a bet or something, took a semester of a Portuguese class, not knowing the > language at all.) > > >> So what you should take care >> of : don't say film scoring is awfull but film scoring is awfully done. >> It's your responsability as a teacher not to write such trivial >> conceptions on such a forum. >> > > That wasn't quite what I said. I got myself in this gentle flame war by > saying that arguments about music and emotion were awfully done. > Yes, i understood. But the point is that academies absolutely reject all that is related to beauty / emotion in any artistic expression this last 30 years (IMHO, of course). These words are, of course, so subjectives, and i'll never go against the Stravinsky's "a note is note". But what i mean is that we may separate from awfull mass entertainment products what's up when the 7th is delayed for a few bars in a Bach's counterpoint. This last one is always killing my heart but, for sure, Bach didn't go "let's do something emotional". I always react on this, because there is such a global race to achieve the most frigid piece in the 'academic' fields that we still have to fight to claim we're really not forced to write 'unfuckable' music in order to impress the vulgum pecus (who is, indeed, never impressed at all) nor we're forced to write mellow shit. A cerebral piece could be delightful, of course, but a lot of them often miss the point which is, IMO, to give some delight, for brain &/or heart &/or bollocks. When a famous french composer loses his nerves because he still doesn't understand why he's not in the top 50, he should think about the fact that, even if people get awfully less cultivated (that's horribly true), these same people are not always deaf. When the path is made to them, they don't spit on the job.
      In the same flavour, i may be very subborn, but another famous french composer explained to me his last piece was a whole detailed work on uglyness (all : patterns, structures, textures, instrumentation and so on...), and, indeed, it was. And i still don't understand how he could have spent so much time on this... > >> Ohh, if you're not ravaged by Bach, so maybe you're lost for music :-) >> > > Yeah, possibly. I heard the Brandenburg Concerto no 6 on the car radio this > morning, and I had to turn it off. Mind you, that piece always struck me as > a bit duff; if it had been Brandenburg 2 it might have been a different > The bridge in "being boring" by the Pet Shop Boys is also a masterpiece...
      cheers
      f.e > story! > > Cheers, > > JS > > > > >
      -- f.e chanfrault | aka | personal computer music > >>>>>> http://www.personal-computer-music.com > >>>>>> |sublime music for a desperate people|
    • Nov 30 2006 | 6:49 pm
      > saying that arguments about music and emotion were awfully done.
      Here are some intersting arguments:
      It's an interview with Marvin Minsky listening Beethoven.
      best, nesa
    • Dec 01 2006 | 2:24 pm
      Steven Miller wrote: > Does not experience lead to beliefs, in the sense that expectations > are formed by experience? Unless you mean 'beliefs' in the sense of > 'biases' or 'preconceptions' i.e. unfounded a priori assumptions > about something - which is a different thing.
      You are right to point to this distinction; very often, what we call biliefs are preconceptions which filter the experience, versus, what would be a stronger conncetion to what one could call reality, the other way around. Watching children is the best to keep in mind what searching and experiencing means, they have no other choice than just being curious and then pull out conclusions. The difficulty is to stay aware of the fact that our conclusions might be wrong and that there often is more than one way to interpret experience and thus the same experience could lead to very different conclusions...
      > I think there might be some confusion between intention vs. reception > (for lack of easier handles) - are we talking about emotion > intentionally expressed through music, or a listener having an > emotional response upon experiencing music?
      I was talking about my experience as listener. Emotions within my own music are a different beast, some of it I want to share, but I know I could at best give a glimpse on it. My emotions are mine, and the emotions of the listener are those of the listener, and each listener is different again. But thats exciting, if you can touch a big audience though not knowing what it means in the end for each of them...
      > The crux of my earlier post is, however, relevant here: *whatever* > meaning (emotional, intellectual, etc.) we experience in response to > music is, in fact, a product of the cultural conditioning go the > listener - the meaning resides at the intersection of the listener, > the music, and the cultural context, it is not inherent within the > music itself.
      I completely agree...
      >> Purely rational music doesn't exist. I could prove that this is a >> fact and not a believe... > > Again, do you mean 'purely rational' in the construction of it, and > perhaps the composer's intent, or in the experiencing of it? It is > not at all clear from your writing which you mean, or indeed whether > you are separating them out. This is not a minor point!
      My statement was intended thought provoking - it worked... ;-) What does the term music mean for a musician? (assuming most listmembers define themself as musicians) There is more music out there which is not composed, even not created/played by a human. (which points back to your cultural connection)
      Your reply made me wonder what the wikipedia would say about music. (a word I normaly would not consider needed to be looked up, as I wrongly believe I am an expert on the subject... ;-)
      I would not agree to all stated there, but some is worth to quote:
      "In essence, music is a personal response to mechanical vibration."
      "The existence of some modern-day genres such as grindcore and noise music, which enjoy an extensive underground following, indicate that even the crudest noises can be considered music if the listener is so inclined."
      "in short, there is rarely a consensus.... By all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be."
      ...
      Stefan
      -- Stefan Tiedje------------x------- --_____-----------|-------------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()------- -- _|_)----|-----()-------------- ----------()--------www.ccmix.com
    • Dec 01 2006 | 2:26 pm
      f.e wrote: > In the same flavour, i may be very subborn, but another famous french > composer explained to me his last piece was a whole detailed work on > uglyness (all : patterns, structures, textures, instrumentation and so > on...), and, indeed, it was. And i still don't understand how he could > have spent so much time on this...
      Maybe he pointed to common believes of uglyness, and wanted to open the ears of his listeners to the beauty of it. Mostly this attempt failes, especially if the listener rejects any other form as she is used to, but it could work as well. Or it was just a conceptual work on uglyness. And the big fun with it is watching the disgusting faces of the audience... If you annoy someone, its also a way to touch (creating negative emotions), but thats not your taste I know...
      Stefan
      -- Stefan Tiedje------------x------- --_____-----------|-------------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()------- -- _|_)----|-----()-------------- ----------()--------www.ccmix.com
    • Dec 01 2006 | 3:27 pm
      "I have an important message for all the cute people in the audience....there's more of us ugly motherf*ckers than you!" Frank Zappa (a man of great responsibility) Cheers Roger
      On 1/12/06 14:26, "Stefan Tiedje" wrote: > Or it was just a conceptual work on uglyness. And the big fun with it is > watching the disgusting faces of the audience...
    • Dec 01 2006 | 3:54 pm
    • Dec 01 2006 | 7:16 pm
      Apropos this discussion and the set of quotes from Wikipedia, I offer a couple of excerpts from an interview I did last year with composer- sound artist-bioacoustician David Dunn for Arts Electric www.arts-electric.org/articles/051205.dunn.html>:
      David Dunn:
      "One of my interests has also been in reframing a lot of the activity that musicians have been engaged in over the last half-century, particularly in the experimental American tradition. I've had the sense for a very long time that there's some deeper significance to this activity. We really don't know what it is we're engaged in when we make music. In some ways that's a silly statement, because we know perfectly well what music is - or at least most people think they do - there's an overt aspect to it which is its entertainment purpose and its deeper cultural resonance - ways in which music informs us collectively, the kinds of buttons it pushes in terms of emotional and physiological associations, etc. But I've had this sense that there's another level to musical activity, a kind of unconscious project that's at work. A lot of my work as a composer has been about reframing or re-examining - both historically and analytically - looking at what some of the more experimental music activity might mean in the light of what I think may be its larger purpose: Music is one of the most profound means we have for growing the capacity to perceive the world through sound."
      "We really need to ask, "what is music about, what is this activity?" In terms of its evolutionary significance, Stephen Pinker, for instance, as a theorist of cognition, believes that music has no evolutionary meaning. He actually calls it auditory cheesecake. And yet, he thinks it's one of the great human mysteries because every culture we know or have known of had some form of music. There's obviously something significant about this, but on an evolutionary level he thinks there's no real imperative. It's just something that exists and is a rather extraordinary mystery because of that. I don't think that's true. I think that there really is a direct evolutionary imperative. Music is the vehicle through which we explore our auditory structural coupling to the external world."
      On Dec 1, 2006, at 7:24 AM, Stefan Tiedje wrote:
      > Your reply made me wonder what the wikipedia would say about music. (a > word I normaly would not consider needed to be looked up, as I wrongly > believe I am an expert on the subject... ;-) > > I would not agree to all stated there, but some is worth to quote: > > "In essence, music is a personal response to mechanical vibration." > > "The existence of some modern-day genres such as grindcore and noise > music, which enjoy an extensive underground following, indicate that > even the crudest noises can be considered music if the listener is so > inclined." > > "in short, there is rarely a consensus.... By all accounts there is no > single and intercultural universal concept defining what music > might be." >
      ---- Steven M. Miller
      Associate Professor of Contemporary Music College of Santa Fe Contemporary Music Program 1600 St. Michaels Drive Santa Fe NM 87505 http://pubweb.csf.edu/~smill (505) 473-6197
      SFIFEM Atrium Sound Space OVOS http://sfifem.csf.edu http://atrium.csf.edu http://pubweb.csf.edu/ ~smill/ovos.html
    • Dec 01 2006 | 7:29 pm
      The problem I have with this line of reasoning is the complete subjectivity of labels like "beautiful" and "ugly." Without further clarification of the operating definitions, these words are basically meaningless.
      And, whatever your specific definitions, I just think its silly to believe that privileging one at the expense of the other is a reasonable way to define an aesthetic. If you can't find something worthwhile/interesting/valuable (pick your term...) in both/either, you have an impoverished experience of the world.
      On Dec 1, 2006, at 7:26 AM, Stefan Tiedje wrote:
      > f.e wrote: >> In the same flavour, i may be very subborn, but another famous >> french composer explained to me his last piece was a whole >> detailed work on uglyness (all : patterns, structures, textures, >> instrumentation and so on...), and, indeed, it was. And i still >> don't understand how he could have spent so much time on this... > > Maybe he pointed to common believes of uglyness, and wanted to open > the > ears of his listeners to the beauty of it. Mostly this attempt failes, > especially if the listener rejects any other form as she is used > to, but > it could work as well. > Or it was just a conceptual work on uglyness. And the big fun with > it is > watching the disgusting faces of the audience... > If you annoy someone, its also a way to touch (creating negative > emotions), but thats not your taste I know... >
      ---- Steven M. Miller
      Associate Professor of Contemporary Music College of Santa Fe Contemporary Music Program 1600 St. Michaels Drive Santa Fe NM 87505 http://pubweb.csf.edu/~smill (505) 473-6197
      SFIFEM Atrium Sound Space OVOS
    • Dec 02 2006 | 10:48 am
      happy new ears everyone ;)
    • Dec 02 2006 | 9:19 pm
      > "The existence of some modern-day genres such as grindcore and noise > music, which enjoy an extensive underground following, indicate that > even the crudest noises can be considered music if the listener is so > inclined." >
      They actually wrote that in Wikipedia with a straight face? Amazing.
      Eric
    • Dec 07 2006 | 9:29 am
      Eric Lyon wrote: >>even the crudest noises can be considered music if the listener is so >>inclined." > > They actually wrote that in Wikipedia with a straight face? Amazing.
      I thought - oh this is as well poetic as diplomatic, which probably is a requirement to let uncommon perpectives survive in Wikipedia. The straight face of the authors remain a mystery, the straight faces of the readers hopefully do not exist... ;-)
      Stefan
      -- Stefan Tiedje------------x------- --_____-----------|-------------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()------- -- _|_)----|-----()-------------- ----------()--------www.ccmix.com
    • Dec 08 2006 | 4:08 pm
      This may be of interest to some on the max/msp mailing list. Apologies in advance for list cross-posting; we're trying to spread the word far and wide (and please pass this along to other individuals or lists you think may be interested).
      Thanks!
      -------------- Columbia University Music Department Composition and Theory Assistant Professor Opening
      The Department of Music at Columbia University announces a full-time non-tenured position in Music Composition and Theory, at the rank of Assistant Professor, to begin 1 July 2007.
      The successful candidate will be expected to carry out creative work, teach music composition and theory at undergraduate and graduate levels, and potentially teach in other areas of intellectual interest. He or she will also be expected to teach in the undergraduate Core Curriculum and participate actively in the development of the Department's programs. We seek candidates who can contribute through their composing, research, teaching, and service to the diversity and excellence of the academic community at Columbia.
      An appropriate doctorate or the equivalent is required for this position. Significant work as a composer and/or music theorist is the most important qualification. We welcome applicants with a wide range of aesthetic and technical orientations. A candidate's involvement in areas that would expand the scope of compositional and theoretical research at Columbia will be viewed as an advantage.
      All continuing appointments at Columbia begin with a one-year contract, with renewal anticipated.
      Columbia University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
      Send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, and three letters of recommendation to:
      Brad Garton Chair, Composition Theory Search Committee Columbia University Department of Music 621 Dodge Hall, MC1813 2960 Broadway New York NY 10027 USA
      Review of applications will begin January 15, 2007.
    • Dec 08 2006 | 4:58 pm
      Hi,
      On Nov 21, 2006, at 5:59 PM, dlurk wrote: > It's also difficult for me to imagine the effect of music on people > who are not intentionally involved in creating sound. I am half- > serious when I wonder how significant music can possibly be to > someone who does not have a physical relationship to it, someone to > whom music is merely ear candy and not sustenance mixed with an > aural opiate.
      Our observation studies of air performance and free body movement to music indicate that there are some fundamental gesture-sound relationships that seem to govern our music perception, independent of musical experience. Theoretically this is supported by recent neurocognitive research on mirror neurons that implies that the same brain activity is involved whether we perform an action, or just observe the same action being performed by someone else. This explains how we can learn things by watching others, and also why people without any direct musical experience can also "feel" a musical performance.
      Check out the following publications for some more pointers on air performance and musical imagery: http://www.hf.uio.no/imv/forskning/forskningsprosjekter/ musicalgestures/publications/pdf/godoy-gw2005.pdf http://www.hf.uio.no/imv/forskning/forskningsprosjekter/ musicalgestures/publications/pdf/godoy-gw2003.pdf
      Cheers, Alexander ... Research Fellow, PhD-candidate Musical Gestures Group University of Oslo
    • Dec 08 2006 | 5:14 pm
      Hi again,
      Another seminal work on the topic of music and emotion is Juslin's and Sloboda's "Music and Emotion" (2001), with contributions from researchers in psychology, musicology, neuroscience, etc: http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780192631886
      The main chapters are: - Multidisciplinary Perspectives - The Composer - The Performer - The Listener
      Cheers, Alexander
      On 28. nov. 2006, at 05.28, Steven Miller wrote: > The thing I like about "Emotion and Meaning" - as well as several > sections of his later "Music, the Arts, and Ideas"
      [...]
      > For another (largely compatible though quite different) take on > these ideas, I recommend "Musicking" by Christopher Small.
    • Dec 08 2006 | 6:00 pm
      On Dec 8, 2006, at 9:58 AM, Alexander Refsum Jensenius wrote:
      > > Our observation studies of air performance and free body movement > to music indicate that there are some fundamental gesture-sound > relationships that seem to govern our music perception, independent > of musical experience. Theoretically this is supported by recent > neurocognitive research on mirror neurons that implies that the > same brain activity is involved whether we perform an action, or > just observe the same action being performed by someone else. This > explains how we can learn things by watching others, and also why > people without any direct musical experience can also "feel" a > musical performance. >
      Unless the research you reference is truly cross-cultural in scope, I have trouble with the designation 'fundamental' in describing these common relationships observed between gesture and sound. The analogies that different cultures use to describe similar musical/ aural experiences are very different (i.e. pitch being 'high or low' in the West whereas the Javanese refer to them as being 'small or large', etc.). Does this difference in analogy correlate at all to different typical physical gestures in relation to aural stimuli?
      The other problem I have with the term 'fundamental' relates to how much these gestures are learned responses vs. physiologically determined. How much has this been determined?
      ---- Steven M. Miller
      Associate Professor of Contemporary Music College of Santa Fe Contemporary Music Program 1600 St. Michaels Drive Santa Fe NM 87505 http://pubweb.csf.edu/~smill (505) 473-6197
      SFIFEM Atrium Sound Space OVOS
    • Dec 08 2006 | 9:55 pm
      A fantastic discussion. Wish we could have an audio or videoconference about all this, to put some voices and faces to the words. Who wants to make a jitter videoconferencing patch? Shouldn't be too tough, right? ....
      As far as "justifying" your pursuit of music, I don't think you need to, nor should you feel like you have to. That's a rather guilt-based thought, isn't it? You don't need to save the world through your music, just make the worlds of yourself and those you play for a little better, more interesting, more beautiful, even more "ugly". You don't have to be Mother Teresa to do good, even just a smile to a stranger can work wonders. Pay it forward.
      Music certainly has the ability to stir emotions, whether they be the tear-jerking kind, the excited kind, the angry kind, anything. I've never been moved to tears by a piece of visual art, nor a section of a film that had no music with it. The music, for me, is the essential element that takes an idea over the top. This doesn't mean the other forms aren't inspiring or worthwhile--they simply produce different reactions within me. And it doesn't mean that being moved to tears is the "deepest" kind of emotion, though it definitely feels that way sometimes. These moments are the most memorable, regardless of any kind of "schtick" or "button-pressing" going on. The mere fact that certain "button-pressing" even works means there's a lot more going on than at first look.
      You love music, so go for it. That's all! Forget questioning that leads to self-doubt. Only question to further explore, understand, and hone your beliefs. Be a good person and justification will not be necessary.
      Fantastic postings!
      --CJ
    • Dec 09 2006 | 3:27 am
      Alexander Refsum Jensenius wrote: > Check out the following publications for some more pointers on air > performance and musical imagery: > http://www.hf.uio.no/imv/forskning/forskningsprosjekter/musicalgestures/publications/pdf/godoy-gw2005.pdf > > http://www.hf.uio.no/imv/forskning/forskningsprosjekter/musicalgestures/publications/pdf/godoy-gw2003.pdf
      Thank you very much - I can't quite explain how valuable this is to me.
      Jon