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Truth and Music

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Truth and Music

Postby Raya » Mon May 19, 2003 11:42 am

If someone says: I know this music - under what circumstances could it be considered true?<br /><br />* What if they just recognised a piece - had heard it before, were hearing it again, and recognised it was the same piece?<br /><br />* What if they could only recognise the piece when rendered with the same voice/instruments?<br /><br />* What if they could recognise a song but not sing it back to you?<br /><br />* What if they could sing just the vocal line, but not the backing vocals? What if it was an orchestral or choral piece (i.e. one with many parts and harmonies), and they could only recognise/render some of the parts/voices?<br /><br />* What if they could sing it back to you, but not in tune?<br /><br />* What if they weren't referring to a specific piece, but 'music' in a broader sense of the word - a certain genre, composer, vocal style?<br /><br />(N.B. Ignore the problems of insufficient vocal range and inability to play the necessary instruments - think in terms of: if the person had the vocal range and could play the instruments, would they be able to render xxxxx...?)<br /><br />Carry on... ;)
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby benissimus » Tue May 20, 2003 4:00 am

I don't think that recognition of music or anything is so much any of those things as it is simply recalling having "experienced" it in some sense before.<br /><br />When we recognize a person whom we have not seen in a long while, are they familiar to us because we recall all of their features... or because we know their primary qualities? If you have a memory of a place, does that mean that you can recollect every detail of the scene you were in, or even draw it precisely?<br /><br />Obviously, music is audio, so it is a different type of memory, but is it really so separate? The only thing that really distinguishes music is that almost everyone is capable of reproducing it (at their own level ;) ).<br /><br />There must be some sort of criteria which the brain requires to remind itself of past events. Obviously this is linked to patterns and distinctions, but it would be difficult to determine the exact parameters.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Elucubrator » Wed May 21, 2003 12:57 am

Here is something really strange:<br /><br />The other night while surfing the web I started humming for a while and slowly my voice started drifting into a certain tune, that I knew from somewhere, but I couldn't remember what it was, where I had heard it, or what the words to it were.<br /><br />I kept trying to remember what it was, but couldn't, and eventually I just quit trying and kept humming it. Suddenly, I recognised what it was. It was one of the Odes of Horace (1.15) that I had composed the music for myself almost a year ago!!! I couldn't believe I had just started humming it like that again after not having thought about it in such a long time. <br /><br />Now that you raise this question, I have no idea how to interpret this event. Did I know it? I was only remembering a part of it. Was it Horace who wrote this or was it I? If I wrote the tune, how could I be said not to know it?<br /><br />I think the answer to this lies in Plato's Theatetus, a dialogue which explores what knowledge is. Somewhere in it, the mind is compared like an empty space full of cages, and everytime you learn something you place a white dove in one of the cages. Eventually, you have so many cages and doves that there is no way that you can see them all. The earlier cages have been pushed back to make room for the more recent arrivals.<br /><br />He says that you still know all of these doves, but that you have forgotten what some of them looked like. However, you still know them, and it would not take you too long to go in there and find the right cage and dove that you were looking for and refamilliarise yourself with it, certainly not as long as it took you to acquire it in the first place. <br /><br />Languages make a good example to illustrate Plato's model through our own experience. I used to speak modern Greek fluently, but it has now been more than ten years since I have used it and I'm not so good at it now. I have forgotten what that dove is really like, in all its details. To go find the cage and see it again and remember it fully, I would have to grab the modern Greek book and reviewing it. It should come back pretty fast.<br /><br />So, once you understand something and have made it yours, I would say that you know it. Whether you remember exactly how it was or not does not change the fact that you still have it as your possession somewhere within you. ;)<br /><br />Sebastian<br /><br />PD Hey Raya, you know what this means? If Plato is right, then you exist somewhere trapped in a cage inside my head! 8) Can you prove to me that you are free? ;D<br /><br />
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Milito » Wed May 21, 2003 1:55 pm

[quote author=Elucubrator link=board=13;threadid=116;start=0#567 date=1053478656]<br />PD Hey Raya, you know what this means? If Plato is right, then you exist somewhere trapped in a cage inside my head! 8) Can you prove to me that you are free? ;D<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Gosh! By extension of that logic, everyone here could conceivably exist nowhere but in your head.... and that could extend to the Internet itself, and even the world! We're all figments of your imagination! (Now prove to us that we're not!)<br /><br />Kilmeny
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Erica » Thu May 22, 2003 7:51 pm

Raya asks many excellent questions. In my own experience as a professionally trained flautist/vocalist, I have an additional question which is in line with Raya's -- <br /><br />*What is it to know music? In this question KNOW can have many definitions -- I can sing the melody/parts in my head, aloud, or recognize it as sung/played by another -- this is straightforward I think...in SOME respect you "know" it, but may or may not be able to communicate it well (accurately/in tune or the like). <br /><br />The question is what happens when you are "frozen" trying to identify a sensation/reaction at hearing music (in your head or aloud from another source) and you can't think of the composer or piece title (although you are SURE you know it/or not) but you have a visceral reaction, like tapping your foot, [I can't help it but often when I hear music my fingers autmatically "play along" with it as if on my flute...I was unaware of this until friends pointed it out some years ago, and just realized it must be because of practice/conditioning on my part as an instrumentalist.] or emotional reaction/ memory from the stimulus which tells you you do, in some form or another, recognize or "know" the work...how can music bring recall or make you question yourself and what you "know" or what it "means".<br /><br />I have found myself often trying to actually ignore the logical part of my mind as it tries to sort out a piece when I do have these "inspired" reactions -- I instead find myself trying to explore the uncategorized feeling and enjoy it before the more logical part of my thought process tries to grasp and define the feeling, because to me part of the BEAUTY and amazing quality of music is the ablity of it to remove one from the present moment and inspire actions/ thoughts /emotions which can be instantly accessed, especcially those in our memories which relate to a certain piece or style of music. <br /><br />Music is different than a visual or intellectual stimulus/reaction -- but I can't really back that up. I think as auditory it is actually in some ways like the olefactory sense in the "recall" reaction -- whenever I walk into a room that smells of vanilla cookies I am instantly transformed to my grandmother's kitchen for a moment -- and hearing a piece can inspire the same reaction, such as whenever I hear certain Chopin mazurkas or etudes my legs itch move to second or fifth position because my ballet teacher as a child always had the pianist play the SAME things over and over each lesson....
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Carola » Sat May 24, 2003 3:43 am

Speaking as a musician I feel a bit more on safe ground with this discussion! I have noticed that "knowing" a peice of music depends to a great extent on one's musical training, i.e. when I hear a piece of music I can recognise the tune even when I hear a completely free jax impro version of it because I can recognise the underlying chord sequences. To a non musician the tune is barely (if at all)recognisable. The more you know about the technical side of creating music, the more "markers" distinguish one tune from another. Also you can hear more things going on, a bit like the difference between seeing in black and white and colour.<br />Try to remember the way Shakespeare sounded to you when you first read any of it in a school English class as a child, and the difference a few more year's maturity made to your understanding of his words. If we all studied music our understanding would "mature" in the same way (what a lovely thought!)<br />As to the point about being able to render the tune if you could play, sing or whatever, the answer is yes, providing it stuck to the Western pitch system of 12 notes. I might have a problem with quarter tones etc but I am sure an Indian musician wouldn't! Training you ear to remember pitch intervals is fairly easy (well, compared to learing Latin!). A lot of the seemingly mystical way musicians, especially jazz musicians, do their thing just boils down to training and practice, the same way as many of you Textkit people can translate chunks of Greeks at sight - now that's really hard!
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Raya » Sat May 24, 2003 6:10 pm

Hmm... so this is how to find out who the forum's musicians are... ;)<br /><br />I'm sorry to say, Carola, that a greater understanding of Shakespeare actually *ruined* him for me. He became - demystified...<br /><br />I used to adore Shakespeare when I was younger. Even when I was 9 and couldn't actually understand what I was reading, it was such lovely stuff to read aloud - and because I could only get the gist of it, there was this magical, mysterious quality... as though some great thing was cloaked and waiting to be uncovered... but, when I became able to understand the language without 'translating' it... well, the cloak was lifted and what was actually there was quite disappointing.<br /><br />But I can't help thinking that I knew Shakespeare differently, back in the days when I loved his stuff, as compared to now. As Erica points out, artistic knowledge involves not only the 'technical' side (in the case of music: notes, chord sequences, etc) but the associations with these things. I'm not quite sure how to explain this, but my associations with Shakespeare's language were different before... the understanding was on a different level, not necessarily a superficial one. There used to be something in Shakespeare that spoke to me but I can't find it anymore...<br /><br />This brings out another question:<br /><br />* How does previous knowledge affect the new knowledge we acquire, and vice-versa?<br /><br />...and this is why I have trouble with the doves-in-cages theory. It suggests that each 'thing' we know is something separate and self-contained, unaffected by knowledge already there and unable to be affected by knowledge acquired later. I think knowledge is more dynamic than that - items we know become associated, and these associations change as more knowledge is gained (or forgotten). Furthermore...<br /><br />* Aren't the associations between items knowledge as much as the items themselves?
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Carola » Sun May 25, 2003 11:47 am

Dear Raya<br />I guess the words sounded pretty when you were a child, but didn't Hamlet's speeches affect you more when you knew personal tragedy or Othello's story move you after you had experienced an adult's love (and jealousy!)?<br />I still think it is like hearing in "black & white" and then in "colour"; because I can hear what the oboist is doing or the complex rhythms of the drums etc I can wring a lot more out of even a simple tune. The only problem then, of course, is that a lot of what I hear on the radio has become noise rather than music. Banal when it could be divine. I had to grow up a lot to appreciate Bach, which is music cut back to its bones - the E=MC2 of music. But what a lot can be hinted at in that equation!<br />Thanks for this very interesting conversation!
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Raya » Sun May 25, 2003 5:23 pm

It's a pleasure, Carola... that's what forums are for. ;)<br /><br />I think what irks me about Shakespeare are his views of the world: in many of his plays I can see what he's getting at, but I just - don't agree.<br /><br />In Romeo and Juliet, for instance, I contend that the protagonists do not love each other. They are teenagers who don't know the difference between love and lust, and if there is any tragedy in the play, it lies in the fact that the adults who know of their lust go on to facilitate their silliness - rather than spending time and energy on the real problem, which is the feud between the Montagues and Capulets. But, even if I can pick this out, the tragedy that Shakespeare meant to bring to our attention (and we know this from the Chorus' opening speech) is the fact that R&J are allegedly meant for each other but kept apart by the family feud.<br /><br />I suppose that because he wrote the play I have to take it from him if he says it was a match made in Heaven - but I'm not convinced. Ironically, it's Shakespeare's own brilliance that backfires here: if his characters weren't so well-crafted, I wouldn't be able to see them in a different light than Shakespeare <br />himself!<br /><br />* What happens when you don't agree with the artist's own views of that particular work?<br /><br />Some would say that, in this case, you have not understood the work - but then, what happens when you experience artwork from a culture with different value systems to your own? Some of my Western-musician friends can't bear Indian, Arabic or Chinese music because it offends their sense of musicality - you'd think there was something wrong with quarter tones and pentatonic scales! - but I don't think that necessarily means they don't know these types of music...<br /><br />For my own part I've never had the chance to study music formally: sometimes I think I would love to, because it would allow me to see the 'colours of music' (as Carola puts it) more vividly... but other times I'm grateful for the lack of music-theory background (assuming that I would only have studied the music of select cultures, recognising that a formal multicultural study of music theory would be unlikely) because it allows me to maintain an open mind and set my own criteria...<br /><br />* Does knowing more about an artistic genre (music, drama, etc) mean that you understand the works within it better, or does it simply mean you understand them differently?<br /><br />I still maintain that I knew Shakespeare differently when I was younger. When I started studying him I really enjoyed it, in those days when I (blindly) believed What Teachers And Critics Say and tried to see the literature as I was taught to see it... but as time went on I learned to develop my own response to art, and Shakespeare became less-satisfying because of the contrast between his views and mine.
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Milito » Mon May 26, 2003 4:19 pm

[quote author=Raya link=board=13;threadid=116;start=0#602 date=1053883427]<br />I still maintain that I knew Shakespeare differently when I was younger. When I started studying him I really enjoyed it, in those days when I (blindly) believed What Teachers And Critics Say and tried to see the literature as I was taught to see it... but as time went on I learned to develop my own response to art, and Shakespeare became less-satisfying because of the contrast between his views and mine.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />I will agree that the "colour" of knowledge changes over time - it is a matter of "knowing differently". When I was in school, I loved English literature, and was seriously considering studying English in university. When I went back to it later, I found that the study of English was - or had become - a matter of disection. The work itself as a whole somehow got lost in questions of themes and symbolism and underlying meaning, and in the process, lost all of its original exterior beauty. It's somewhat akin to ignoring the beauty of large fluffy snowflakes falling against the light of a streetlight in a quiet night, and thinking only of shovelling the driveway the next morning.<br /><br />There would appear to be something in a personality development (or something) that guides establishments of likes and dislikes; some people really seem to enjoy the 'disection' process. On the other hand, the more I learn about the making of music, the more I enjoy it - and the interesting point here is that I'm not very musical. I've progressed to the point that I can tell a high note from a low note, and pick out the occasional melody line on a piano, but I will never be able to play by ear, or even sight-read well. I'll certainly never be able to tune an instrument properly, let alone sing harmony without someone to follow! Perhaps it's a matter of knowing that these things can be done by some people, but only "some" people, of recoginizing a gift that I don't have myself, that seems to add a note of the "mystical" as you suggested earlier. Because I don't have the gift, I can't lose the "mystical" where music is concerned, because I'll never be able to get that deeply into the details. Even knowing that music is nothing more than an interesting phenomena in the physics of wave motion doesn't make it lose its splendour.<br /><br />So can the analysis of literature go so far as to remove truth from the equation? More generally, can you analyse something to the point that there is nothing truthful left in it? You can certainly apply the rules of logic to an extreme that leads an argument into the zones of the silly; can you analyse something so far as to completely miss the truth of it, in literature or in music?<br /><br />Kilmeny
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Carola » Tue May 27, 2003 1:39 am

OK, I understand the desire to retain the "mystery" of artistic inspiration, but I think that the dissection process is only a step towards "true" (or "better" because only divine beings understand "true"!) understanding. I remember years ago seeing a documentary film about Pablo Picasso - now keep in mind that he spent many years going through the old orthodox art school training, learning to draw very accurate apples and wine bottles and then progressing to figure drawing and so on. The film showed Picasso drawing a design on glass - he just painted directly, no rubbing out bits, no apparent thought - just laying down something so beautiful with perfect confidence. But the point is, to have that confidence that every line was "right" he probably spent 20 years perfecting his skills, so he could just forget tecnique and let the design in his head flow straight into his hands. Of course, the bit about "the design in his head" is another area altogether, that part gets into the "mystical" area. But having an inspiration and getting it out on paper or sound is another thing. (Go on, how many of you have tried to write a poem or a story? And how many of these efforts ended in the shredder?)<br /><br />Many fine actors have loved and appreciated Shakespeare, but as for agreeing with him, well, art isn't meant to be a bland statement of political correctness. The fact that it offends you and makes you gnash your teeth at the stupidity of Romeo & Juliet might just be proof of its power! Could a Mill & Boon romance do that ? Might make you gnash your teeth at the poor writing, but you'll forget the story in 5 minutes. <br /><br />I've strayed from the topic of music a bit but all of the above applies to any artistic expression - when you have finally stripped away all the so called "mystery" and see the bare bones, then you can start to appreciate the true beauty and worth. Otherwise you might just have to wait 100 years or so to see if people are still enjoying it - that means your artistic efforts have transcended fashion and probably have some true value! <br />
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Milito » Wed May 28, 2003 1:42 pm

"When you strip away the 'mystery' and see bare bones, then you can start to appreciate the true beauty and worth."<br /><br />I can agree with this to an extent - there are some things that I do indeed find "enhanced", if you like, by an understanding of what exactly goes in to making them up. I think, though, that where the problems originated with my experiences with literature was that the focus came off the work itself, and got so intent on the analysis that the work - with all its inherent beauty - got lost. Suppose someone took a symphony and, instead of looking at the way it was put together, got all tangled up in the number of times the "middle-C" tone was used, and by which instruments, and what this might signify. I don't find that that sort of analysis provides any sort of artistic or truthful enhancement; on the other hand, I've heard Holzt's "The Planets" arranged for two pianos, and hearing the different interpretation of the work does provide enjoyment, complete with both amusement and a little bit of awe that someone was able to look at the music, and figure out how to put the arrangement together - which is more than just reproducing tones. Someone had to figure out which tones to put in, which to leave out, which to assign to which piano, and on and on and on.... I would say that that is getting to the bare bones of the work indeed, and is providing an opportunity to appreciate it the more, but the focus is remaining on the work as a whole.<br /><br />To go back to the original idea about when music is "known", I'd suggest that anyone who can arrange something symphonic for another type of playing, be it solo instrument, small group, or what-have-you, "knows" that music extremely well - they have to, or couldn't make an effective arrangement. But the real knowledge of the arranger has nothing to do with something like "the average number of accidentals per bar", or other such statistic. I would also go so far as to assert that the person who knows all about the statistical side of a piece of music doesn't really "know" the music at all - just a whole lot of facts about it, which may or may not be of use to anyone.<br /><br />I suppose that all of that is a very long way to suggest that there are differing ways of "seeing" the bare bones, and that if the "bones" become dislocated, or lined up in order of size, or arranged in some other way that removes their relation to the original work, both "mystery" and true beauty are lost.<br /><br />Now, before it's suggested that my examples are a mite extreme.... In one English class I took, I was literally asked to count the number of occurrences of each word in a work (fortunately, it was a short-ish poem, about 20 lines long, as I recall) because the word used most frequently was supposed to be the one that would reveal what the poet was really trying to get at. I went with the spirit of the assignment, not the letter, because there isn't a lot you can do with the word "the". That course was the last English course I took.<br /><br />Kilmeny
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Carola » Sat May 31, 2003 1:14 pm

Yes, I totally agree with your comments about the stupidity of counting words, notes or whatever - an exercise designed by teachers who hide their lack of understanding of a subject by confusing their students ! I was lucky enough to strike music teachers who taught me to appreciate the skill in picking harmonies etc which sounded good, rather than try to analyse meaningless note occurances. A lot of it is very mathematical, but its a satisfying type of maths, not just meaningless statistics. Well, maybe that is another topic for discussion - why are so many musicians mathematically minded? It is very common and has been commented on many times (its not just a fluke thing with my own group of friends). Is there a part of the brain which is associated with numbers/music? What about other artists (or writers/dancers & so on). Are there other skills which go hand in hand with poets? This could open a whole field of meaningless research ;)
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Raya » Sat May 31, 2003 8:48 pm

Carola: "Useless research"? (You mean, more useless than the Classics? ;D) Go ahead - start that topic in a new thread! - if you don't, I will... :P<br /><br />Back on topic:<br /><br />When you are educated in an art (well - in anything really), you are presented with a way of regarding it. Your way of regarding artwork, and thus your reaction to it, is shaped by what you've been taught - even if this happens in a negative sense (i.e. you reacted against what you learned), that education has shaped your outlook in some way.<br /><br />Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing... but it can certainly be limiting. I think of my aforementioned friends, who are trained in Western music and find anything that breaks its rules of What Sounds Good offensive... I think of my own visual arts teachers, trained in the traditionalist "learn to draw first" school who react against my digital art and abstract work. No, you don't need proficiency in the skill of drawing to produce decent visual art - you don't need to learn to represent objects to decide that it doesn't serve your purposes, and to have the "right" to turn to abstraction instead. Why, in some cultures they begin with abstraction in the first place...<br /><br />My point is that people will so easily mistake Artistic Theories for Artistic Truths. But they are just theories! Each one is a different point of view of the same object, showing some things clearly, some things unclearly, and some things not at all. Thus each theory has its own strengths and fallibilities. To have a true understanding of an art (or indeed, anything), one has to consider many different viewpoints - many different theories.<br /><br />The question of culture comes up in many of my posts for this very reason: comparing different cultures is an easy way to consider different theories, e.g. Western vs. Arabic music theory (though I do not doubt that there may exist different theories within the same culture).<br /><br />As far as such useless examinations of artwork as counting units (words, notes, colours) - yes, I agree with you both on that one! ;) - I think it pertains to this idea of being stuck in one viewpoint and exhausting it. As well as zooming in, you need to be able to step back and view the landscape from a distance...<br /><br />...and this brings us into Gestalt Theory, the idea that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. I'm not saying that looking at the parts is worthless, mind you - it can indeed enhance understanding - but I'm saying, to look at them without stepping back to consider the whole picture as well distorts the truth of the artwork, which includes the synergistic effects of combinations as well as the actual parts. Perhaps that's what you were getting at, Milito...?<br /><br />And - well - there's my reason for posting this thread, I suppose. I don't believe the claim I know this music can hold true on the knowledge of just parts of the music, but must include an understanding of the synergistic combined effect of these parts - an understanding which, for the most part, is incommunicable...
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Re:Truth and Music

Postby Elucubrator » Mon Jun 02, 2003 3:50 pm

Wow, I haven't checked into the Academy for some time now, and this has really become a fascinating discussion.<br /><br />I don't think that counting of words, notes, colours, is entirely stupid, and before anyone laughs (because on the surface this statement even to me seems stupid) I have to say that I do not consider any word, note, or colour in a work of art to be placed by the artist without intention or purpose. This is why it is called art, right?<br /><br />When an artist, like Picasso, has trained to such a point that he can paint beautifully and naturally without thinking about how he should place his brushstrokes, he has developed his artistic "personality" to such an extent that it has become natural for him. He has his own style which is entirely different from Michelangelo and which could be analyzed to discover different principles and laws in it's foundations. I guess the point I am trying to make is that what begins as "art", what is originally "contrived" eventually becomes "natural" for the artist who is developing a personal style. Eventually, he can do something without thinking.<br /><br />The same happens with musicians, who have trained themselves to such a point that they are able to hold a conversation with me while continueing to play a complicated piece, apparently not thinking about it at all while they are playing. What had to be learned with the mind has now found a life of its own in the hands of the guitarist and expresses itself directly through his hands without the help of the mind. Where these inspirations come from it is impossible for me to tell. I have also seen a flautist play (who obviously could not hold a conversation simultaneously). The motions of her body as she played were like those of a slender reed blown by the wind. She had somehow become the wind which found its expression through the instrument.<br /><br />In my case, (I am good with languages) I have woken in the mornings at times and caught myself speaking in ancient Greek or Latin fluently and fluidly, delivering some kind of a speech; I have no idea from where the words were flowing, but when I applied my mind to it to pay closer attention, the process would end immediately. It is almost as if you have to remove mind in order to enable the best artistic creation. <br /><br />Notwithstanding, there will always be operative laws in place which can describe these "natural" compositions, and the application of the analytic mind to these expressions will be able to discover the laws which give them structure and shape.<br /><br />There is indeed something beautiful about receiving these artistic expressions as a viewer, reader, listener, without paying any bit of attention to these laws and principles. Raya says that Shakespeare was more beautiful before she understood him, that the sounds of the words themselves and the strangeness of that older English made reading him fascinating and intoxicating. <br /><br />All of us who are students of Greek will be able to remember with fondness the first time that our eyes fell upon a page of Greek. Remember the beauty of the script, the mystery, the fascination with not knowing what it said, or how to read it. Many of us may be enjoying this at present. For me, that initial fascination is gone. It is gone forever. When I grab a page of Greek now, the alphabet is as familiar to me as English and there is nothing mysterious any longer in it. Once you arrive at this point the mystery will become deeper and more profound and there will be much in classical literature to fascinate and astonish you, and this is not only in the ideas which the authors are treating, but in the manner which they express them. Plato was an artist as well as a philosopher; Herodotus was an artist as well as a historian, and the same thing can be said for almost every one of the Classical writers. And is this not what makes learning Greek and Latin and reading the Classics fascinating?<br /><br />I have other thoughts that I will post later because I am short on time, and because this message might become too unmanageable. But here is a question that very much interests me and I would like to hear your thoughts:<br /><br />When Picasso paints that painting on the glass, when the virtuoso musician improvises something, when Mozart composes the music for a libretto, is the result something that they intended? How much can we ascribe to craft and intentional design on the part of the artist, and how much belongs to thoughtless natural expression, that is to art itself using the artist as an instrument or conduit for its own expression without the thought (or mind) of the artist in play? and Where does this art come from???<br /><br />Sebastian<br /><br />PD I have just worked myself into a sense of awe for.... I know not what, exactly. Facinating topic.<br /><br />PPD Raya, does this belong in a new thread? I am not sure. And what would it be called?
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Postby Jung He Fah Toy » Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:42 pm

It seems this hasnt been in the news too much. But let us revive this thread. I do not play a msical instrument, but there is something about music thats suprised me a while ago. I just haven't been able to share it with anyone till now.

It is very unlikely that somebody can play a song written by someone else. For example, if I tried to play Beethoven's 5th Symphony, I would probably mess up and look at the notes. The song would probably sound horrible to someone. There is a high chance that I will play the song incorrectly. Now if we had the best music player in the world at the time try to play Beethoven's 5th Symphony, he/she would still have a high chance of playing the music written on the paper incorrectly. Why? Because in order to play the music on a sheet of paper, they would have topla it perfectly. All the rythyms would have to perfectly played, the exact tempo, the exact sound level, the exact rising and decending volume. Quite a challenge for one. Perfect may not be the correct word. What I intend is that the song has no mistakes according to the paper. Basically, everytime you hear someone play a song in person, you could say that they are not playing the song they think they are. They are playing something close or similar to the song they indend to. We usually ignor this and guess what, it doesn't really metter.

Okay, I am done wasting time. :wink: But I'd enjoy comments!
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Postby Raya » Fri Mar 19, 2004 4:09 pm

You're not wasting time at all! This was one of my favourite threads, and I'm happy you revived it. ;)

I'm not sure I agree with you completely, but you do raise an interesting question:

How different does an artwork have to be from another to be considered a work in its own right?

As far as music goes, it is meant to be performed and performers will introduce their 'own thing' into it. Some performers can replicate what is exactly written in sheet music (yes, as much skill as it might take) - others will take liberties and may change tempo, volume, emphasis, etc to their own purposes.

Having said that, there are certain things about a piece which are always kept the same.
So - let us think on that for a moment.
Is it about what changes are made?
If so, what changes are 'tolerated' and which not?

If I've understood Jung He Fah Toy's post, the feeling there is that any change would make it a different piece altogether. I would disagree with that - but I do believe that a piece can be changed in ways that make it a whole new piece.
I'm having some trouble putting a finger on what, exactly, those ways are though.
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Postby Saiph » Fri Mar 19, 2004 5:12 pm

How different does an artwork have to be from another to be considered a work in its own right?


As a guitarist, I find that is is the individual interprateation of chord changes and melodies that make a guitarist unique.

Six guitarists I know play the same piece of music very well, however, one of them adds so many subtle emphases and embellishments to the piece, that he "personalizes" it, and in my mind, it becomes a whole new layer of art superimposed on top of the original composers creative genius.

With 12 tone music everything has already been written. The trick is to rearrange and add variation to the vast established ouevre.
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Postby Jung He Fah Toy » Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:39 pm

I would think that the sound heard from a musician would be the musician's interpretation of the music he is trying to play. It may not be perfectly proportional to the actual music on paper, but it would be close.

I agree Raya. It is a very interesting thing.
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Postby threewood14 » Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:53 pm

I play an instrument. It hard enough to try and get the song you are playing to sound like anything!
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Postby Raya » Sat Mar 20, 2004 9:26 am

Another point to consider is that, in some art forms (particularly those such as music, where performance is involved), the composer doesn't actually write <i>everything</i> down. Instead, what is written are the basic guidelines for a piece.

For instance, I am one of those who sings ancient Greek lyric poetry - but I don't compose melodies as such. Basically, I consider the metre of the text for the rhythm and length of each note, and the pitch accents indicate where to sing higher and lower notes. Together these combine to give a melody.
But - the pitch accents aren't like written sheet music, where every note is laid out; they are only general relative indicators. An acute accent shows that the syllable has a higher note than the preceding, a circumflex shows that you start the syllable on a high note and glide to a lower one. So, there's an element of choice here: for instance, one is free to choose <i>how high</i> to raise the note on the acute accent, and indeed, that interval may differ at different points within the song/poem. The choices of key and tempo are left to the singer as well.

It's hard to put that into words, so I hope it made sense - but the idea is, the text just gives a 'framework' within which each singer can create their own melody. But isn't still the same song/poem, regardless of these variations?
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Postby threewood14 » Sat Mar 20, 2004 5:56 pm

Very true. But even so, this is too much for the performer!
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Postby Jung He Fah Toy » Mon Mar 22, 2004 11:14 pm

I think the audience would not care if the music was perfect or not. As long as they can recognize the tune, no problems would arise.
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