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Larry Kulp

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Everything posted by Larry Kulp

  1. I agree. But I think Glass has done some movie scores (at least they sounded like Glass) where his repetitive figurations were quite effective in creating a mood. These works also contained melodic lines that were longer in duration than in most of his stuff and were quite beautiful. It would be ironic, wouldn't it, if Glass, when writing for mass consumption, actually composes better music. Larry
  2. I voted for enlightened absolutism. If I were king, I would cram freedom down their miserable throats no matter how hard they resisted, the stupid oafs. Anyway, I'm starting up a "Kulp for King" campaign. Care to make a campaign contribution? Larry Kulp
  3. Well, if Bob were being honest, then I suppose it proves that something akin to "color-blindness" exists with respect to music appreciation. Nevertheless, such "music blindness" is somewhat problematic vis-a-vis my views about music, namely, that our response to music is the product of our "hard-wired" predisposition to seeking and finding regularity in nature. Such a predisposition would have such immense survival value (speaking in evolutionary terms), that a person lacking it must be profoundly disabled. In other words, someone lacking the ability to apprehend and appreciate music may have the same inability respecting the apprehension of regularity in nature generally. On the hand, it may be that the deficiency is limited only to the processing of auditory data, or even more specifically, to just the processing of musical data. I hope so, for Bob's sake. Larry
  4. Bob, there is something familiar about your name. Several years ago, I spent some time on an Objectivist newsgroup where you seemed to be a regular poster. I could be mistaken. Anyway, I remember you as posting to a thread where music appreciation was being discussed. The unforgettable thing about your posts were your statements that you were completely indifferent to music, and that you could not fathom how anyone could be moved by a mere sequence of tones, etc. Are you that guy? Larry
  5. I believe that is a correct statement. As I would define it, music has order and structure, which are "things in reality." I think you would agree that "things" are not limited to physical objects, but also include dynamic processes and relations. Order and structure in music may be found in one or more of its aspects, such as tempo, rhythm, meter, timbre, pitch, melody, harmony, etc. If there is no intelligible order or structure in at least one of these aspects, then the sound being heard is not music, but rather, unintelligible noise, capable of being apprehended only on a sensory level. In my view, one's apprehension and appreciation of music has nothing to do with his philosophy. It is purely a neurological matter. Research has all but conclusively shown that the brain is "hard-wired" to seek and apprehend order and structure in reality. Because this has survival value, such a pre-disposition would be an expected product of evolution. Research has also demonstrated, just as conclusively, that good music (i.e., music capable of evoking emotions) has two aspects: First, it must have intelligible order and structure, so that expectations arise in the listener, from what he has just heard, regarding what he is about to hear. As in nature generally, order and structure in music may be complex or subtle, requiring close attention and, perhaps, intellectual analysis. But the mere apprehension of structure and order does produce an positive emotional response, because the brain has found what it has been looking for. Sometimes the apprehension of such order or structure takes considerable time and effort, leading to suspense, frustration, and then pleasure when at last it is discovered. This leads to the second aspect, which can transform good music into "great" music. After setting up expectations, "great" music must then (ironically) violate those expectations. The violation might be temporary, with the music eventually moving on to resolution. Or it might be permanent, such as by the abandonment of a theme and the introduction of a new theme, or by an unexpected ending which leaves the listener hanging. Indeed, the procession of multiple violations themselves might be ordered or structured. In any event, it is these violations of our expectations which evoke the strongest emotions. I do not believe that one's philosophical premises have anything to do with his response to music. The brain's pre-disposition to seeking and finding order and structure is not volitional. And the emotional responses that are part of this process are similarly unrelated to any particular philosophical views held by the listener. All that can be said, really, is that "music" which lacks both of the above-described aspects evokes no emotions at all, just boredom and indifference. Great music, on the other hand, produces all sorts of emotions. But these emotions are completely neutral regarding all aspects of reality--except for one: structure or order, the apprehension of and response to which are entirely innate. Even Megan's listener having, for example, a malevolent view of the universe, cannot escape the positive, involuntary emotional responses evoked by discovering order and structure in music, in experiencing the surprise or shock caused by clever violations of his expectations, the suspense in waiting for resolution, and the pleasure in apprehending that resolution. Larry
  6. I hope no one thought my previous post about "serious music" denigrates popular music. My own appreciation of music has greatly widened over the years. I was reared on "serious music" and, during my adolescence through most of my middle years, had little interest in popular music. I'm in my golden years now, and find that I enjoy most any kind of music (but I draw the line at rap and heavy metal). But I do notice, that even in popular music, I perceive the same sort of process at work in serious music, that is: the setting up and then the violation of expectations. In popular music, however, the relevant structures are based more on rhythm and timbre, whereas "classical" music is more often concerned with melodic and harmonic contours. Because of the course of development of my musical appreciation, I wondered if the structures of popular music were actually more subtle or complex than in serious music. After all, why did it take me so long to begin enjoying the former? But again, the research I mentioned above indicates that the recognition of structure in music of a particular genre is enhanced by familarity. In my case, my musical experience began with serious music. By the time I was high school, I could listen to almost any classical music for a few minutes and tell you where it was ultimately going. But the excitement in the music remained, as I have pointed out, because of the "rocks and shoals" which the composer used to impede the music's progress towards resolution. Larry
  7. I was a little surprised as I looked through this thread, expecting to see a lot of pontifications about what is good music from the standpoint of Randian aesthetics. Of course, Rand's musings in the realm of music were sparse, no doubt because music, of all the arts, is the least capable of having philosophical content. I've been a lover of serious music all my life, and have been moved by composers as disparate as Bach and Mozart to Arvo Part and John Tavener. I've often wondered why I found pleasure in such widely divergent styles and genres. I concluded long ago that philosophy and "sense of life" have nothing to do with musical appreciation. Now I am even more certain of this. A great deal of research has been conducted over the past few decades which indicate that good music strongly resonates with the way the brain responds to and processes sounds. Our minds, as a product of evolution, are disposed to finding regularities in nature. Good music presents intelligible regularities in terms of rhythm, pitch, timbre, melody, and higher structures, which set up expectations in our minds. In other words, what we have just heard, gives us expectations as to what we are about to hear. According to the research, music which most effectively evokes emotional responses is, ironically, music which sets up expectations--and then proceeds to violate those expectations before finally giving our brains what they're looking for. The point is that musical appreciation stems not from philosophy, but from neurology. Larry
  8. I have been following this thread with some amusement, because it demonstrates the futility of trying to prove axiomatic facts. The problem of solipsism has been debated for thousands of years, and the present arguments simply echo the same points raised on countless occasions during that time. The simple truth is that solipsism has never been shown to be a true or false idea, and it is a virtual certainty that no proof one way or the other will ever be forthcoming. Yet, I doubt if any sane person has ever believed that nothing exists beyond his own consciousness, notwithstanding his philosophical musings to the contrary. Rand realized this and made it a non-problem by taking an unabashedly "common sense" approach. Here is what she argued: 1. The constituents of reality exist quite independently from our perception or thoughts about them ("primacy of existence"). 2. We are aware of at least some of these constituents and at least some of their common and distinguishing characteristics ("consciousness" and "identity"). We cannot escape the fact that all our perceptions confirm the truth of those statements. And, without a doubt, virtually everyone conducts themselves as if the foregoing statements are true. (Those who do not are generally regarded as "nuts.") That is why Rand said that these things are self-evident. Moreover, these statements cannot logically be proven because they are all-encompassing ideas which form the irreducible starting points of all knowledge and proofs thereof. So ask yourself (even if you think the universe is entirely you): Does all this hand-wringing amount to anything. If you find an answer, will it change your life? Why not just accept the obvious and move on? Larry
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