Monday, November 28, 2011

Re: Musilanguage hypothesis - Becky-Jo

I think the musilanguage hypothesis is valid, even if it is only treated as a theory. It would make sense that our predecessors, when attempting to develop a language, would want to communicate both the literal and the emotive. Why would they not? There's a definite connection to how the emotional content of a word and the emotional content of a musical phrase would have originated; as we said, there are no words for that which music describes to us (hence the point why music is communicative but not a language). I'd like to take the idea one step further and offer my thoughts on this, however, which is that singing words often strikes us so profoundly because it is the embodiment of both; it is the language music is lacking and the indescribable emotions that there are no words for melded together, each making up for the others shortcomings. Also, that we often create instruments with the intention of replicating the sound of the human voice, and that music does in fact seem to exist as an offshoot of language because of something language could not do.

Re: Vamps, Rhytmic Patterns and Musical Definitions - Pete Mitchell

In his post, Peter talked about how extreme rhythmic syncopation, while sometimes being near impossible to actively listen to, still contain rhythmic elements, albeit strange ones. I have to agree with him that it still fits our definition of music; even though those rhythms may be difficult to listen to, if they were written intentionally and performed in that manner they would still fit what it means to have a rhythmic pattern. I think that an objection to this case would be a piece that fails to ever establish any kind of grounded rhythm, that is, not to have extreme syncopation in the context of a broader, more stable piece, but to have a piece that is completely "Arhythmic". As Peter was getting at in his post, a piece such as this would be considered sound art, as completely lacking one of the necessary qualities of music, rhythm, excludes it from that category.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Aesthetic Association

The other day I had the thought that we sometimes associate a separate aesthetic memory with the current aesthetic experience. My instance was walking down the street, listening to music from one of my favorite video games (Persona3FES), by one of my favorite Japanese composers (Shoji Meguro). I realized that the specific tacks were primarily of genres I never listen to, genres that I usually dislike. However, listening to the music and remembering its context in the game makes it a very enjoyable aesthetic experience for me (for those particular pieces). Thus my conclusion that the aesthetic experience of the music is enhanced by the positive aesthetic experience of having played the game with that background music. I believe that if I had heard the same tracks out of context, and did not know who the composer was, I would not enjoy it as much (or at all).

Does aesthetic memory play a role in present aesthetic judgments?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Doctor Who Theme

I would make the argument that the theme from Doctor Who is music, and not sound art. I can understand how one might assume this, because the piece was not composed using orthodox instrumentation, and would therefore lead us to assume differently about it. I would say that, although it is an organization of sounds from a laboratory, all of the sounds used were chosen because they are tonal. There is distinguishable melodic, harmonic and rhythmic content, as well as form, which together set it apart from sound art as music. I would also argue that the ability to cover the song with melodic, harmonic and rhythmic instruments makes the argument that all three are present in the original production, as well as noting that the modern rendition of the theme does the same by containing all of the information found in the original score.

Original Theme:

Modern Theme:

All Themes to Date:

Cover Theme:

Does it follow from my argument that this is music, and not sound art?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Computer Generated Sounds as Music

In a paper that I wrote recently, I argued that we should not consider computer generated sounds as music because they lack artistic intention, at least when the sounds are created purely artificially and lack substantive human input. I realize that there are vague terms here, such as "substantive". At what point is there enough human input that we can consider computer generated sound music? That was a question that I could not answer thoroughly. However, I believe I should change "we should not consider [it] music" to "we should not consider it music as a fine art" because of the proposed idea that it is on a continuum. Perhaps because there is always some level of human input, such as requiring humans to build the computer and make the programs. I would still rate it very low, however. As I stated in class, I think that just programming the rules of music theory and a few common examples into a writing program and calling the output music is doing a disservice to Hamilton's theory of, "requires skill or craft". However, as there is always the minimal human input required to make such "music" exist, it would still fit our author's theory, so I would then have to just place it very low on the scale of what defines "skill or craft".

Do you feel computer generated sounds should or should not count as music, or perhaps that there is more to the argument than that?

Importance of Sound Origin

For the draconian acousmatic thesis, one would completely ignore the origin of a tone when deciding what is and is not music. This is because the acousmatic thesis is concerned with the thought process one experiences when listening to music, divorcing it entirely from its physical origin. We discussed how this is problematic, as a listener could be deceived, such as the case of an acousmatic listener presented with purely artificial electronic music and led to believe that it was actually composed by a person; the problem arising in an acousmatic listener having no discernible criteria for distinguishing the two.
This led me to agree with Hamilton that there is more to music than purely our thoughts on the tonal construction. The instrumentation, the sight of the performance, simply knowing truthfully what it is we are listening to plays a role. The importance of this role is questionable, but nonetheless, we look for a specific timbre in the music we like, and we feel deceived when we are told it is otherwise. I believe Nietzsche had it right when he began associating performance ("drunken emotion") with other qualifying terms of music as an art. The very human imperfection that is prone in all human performance, that can make different renditions of the same composition different experiences entirely, is at least something we look for in music we appreciate.

Does sound origin play a significant role in music?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Computer Generated Sounds

Purely artificially computer generated sounds do not seem as though they would count as music. There are programs that can simulate music creation through algorithms and programming, but can they actually create music that can be considered art? It seems as though we have defined music to need some sort of artistic intention, and that our authors seem to think there is much more to music that just arranging a series of tones. So what is to be said about computers than can be taught the rules of music theory, shown a bunch of examples of music that is considered well-written, and then produce creations that are so alike the original that it is hard for listeners to tell the difference?
I think that, because the computers cannot do anything more than imitate and recreate what they have learned, that the music they create would not be considered "music" in the same regards as they composers they learned from. Unlike human composers, who try to find new and interesting ways to combine sounds and rhythm and create new concepts, the computer composer will only ever understand music so far as it has progressed at its current level, and has no ability to invent for itself.
I would maintain that the sounds created by machines are not art (unless specifically inputted as such by a human composer), but I am not entirely certain if this is a correct assumption.

Do you think computers can create music?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Emotions V. Feelings

The difference between Emotions and Feelings appears in the prerequisite for what makes an emotional state versus what makes a feeling. To have an emotion is to have a reason for that emotion, i.e., I am happy because I had a good day, or I am sad because I have had a bad day. To say that I feel happy or sad but I don't have a reason or don't know what my reason is would be to simply have a feeling. I feel happy, or rather, the emotional state that I am in reminds me of happiness. There is a necessary difference between these two when speaking about music. Because music cannot possess an emotional state (the music cannot be happy or sad because it does not possess the consciousness to be happy or sad), we are simply speaking metaphorically when we say whether it is happy or sad, i.e., "The music is upbeat, and it makes me feel happy" or "The music itself is not happy, but it reminds me of when I feel happy, so I feel happy by listening to it". The language used here is very important to understanding the difference between emotions and feelings, especially in relation to music, and contributes to the overall understanding of how we can distinguish that which can make us react a certain way from that which possesses the inherent quality of being that reaction itself.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bridge between "Truth" and "Aesthetics"

It seemed to me in class this last week that we had two discussions that raised similar points, one about "truth" and one about "aesthetics". These arguments are similar because of a common lack of a solid definition in philosophy. We said that philosophy is a passion for seeking the truth in all subjects, and yet, asking the question, "What is truth?" is too loaded to properly answer. We looked at aesthetics in the same way, knowing what aesthetics are without being able to give a concise answer to the question, "What are aesthetics?"

I raise this point because I find it interesting that we all have different concepts about what makes truth "truth" and what makes aesthetics "aesthetics", and while admitting that it may not be possible to come up with a definition that everyone can agree on for either, we must continue forward and assume a common ground by identifying those things that are not "truth" or "aesthetics" to the best of our ability when it is asserted that they are.

My question then is, "Is this what makes art?" It seems to me that art, a kind of reflection on human emotion and society, also seems incredibly difficult to define, and so it may be that art is an attempt to express the indefinable nature of "truth" and "aesthetics" by explaining them in a less direct manner. A painting can capture the "true" human emotion of what we see, while music can capture the "true" human emotion of what we hear, and writing what we think, etc., but they are only effective when they meet our "aesthetic" expectations. Can an artwork really because considered "art" if it does not?

I want to know if this attempt at describing how I view art makes sense, or if I'm committing some kind of fallacy by saying, "Well, we don't know this, and we don't know that, so we do this to do that."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Introduction for the Semester

Hello, I am Sean Simmons, a Junior at MCLA, who is currently majoring in Fine and Performing Arts with a Concentration in Music, as well as a minor in philosophy. I have been playing guitar for eight years and studying music theory for five. I hope to someday be a music teacher, for either advanced music theory or private lessons in guitar. I have decided to study philosophy while at MCLA because I believe that it is helpful in all disciplines to have both good reasoning and an open mind, two skills philosophy helps one to attain.
I hope that by taking this class, I will begin to understand the deeper meanings behind music and how/why certain elements exist in this branch of arts.