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realitycheck44
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Here are some observations I've made on how I listen to music and some other thoughts:

When I listen to classical music (using the term loosely here to describe all genres such as Classical, Romantic, etc.), I cannot do anything else. Listening to the music is an activity in itself that requires concentration and focus. I like to listen to a whole piece, from beginning to end, in one sitting. When the music is good, I'm rewarded by an intense emotional response.

When I listen to rock music, I usually do it while I'm walking around, checking email, driving, excersizing, etc. The music is simple enough that I can enjoy it while doing many other things simulataneously.

As an analogy to eating, I'd say classical piece is a full blown meal, while a pop/rock song is a quick snack.

The work, talent, and skill that must go into preparing a classical piece is far greater than what has to go into preparing a pop/rock piece. However, because of the differing purposes of the different music types , this is completely appropriate.

Minor, you ended your post with this:

There is no reason why someone who values ability would want to listen to them.

I don't listen to pop/rock music solely because I value the musician's ability (which in many cases is quite high), I listen to it because I value the simple melody that keeps me tapping my foot and whistling as I walk, i.e. the easily digestable esthetic sustenance.

On the same note (:worry:), I don't listen to Classical music solely because I value the amount of work and dedication that went into making the piece. I listen to it because it accurately inspires some positive emotion in me to an extreme degree. Of course, a composer's piece couldn't do this unless he had high ability. But, ability and technical expertise does not imply that the piece will be of any value to me. An example would be many of Mozart's pieces that are so robotic and repetitive, although highly sophisticated, that are utterly uninspiring to me.

Because the two types of music serve two different purposes, there is nothing wrong with enjoying both types.

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I'd like to add one more thing.

None of the bands listed on this thread are "Objectivist Bands." In fact, I'd say a a lot of them have lyrics that are antithetical to Objectivism.

I grew up listening to rock/punk rock/emo/alternative and playing it in my bands in highschool (I'm a guitarist). It was always so disappointing to listen to a song that at first listen seemed great and then to hear the lyrics which were so horrible.

I'm not saying this music is valueless. But, since the thread is titled "Objectivist bands," I figured it should be clarified (perhaps the thread name can be changed?).

The closest to an Objectivist band I guess would be Rush. All of the others though...not even close.

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None of the bands listed on this thread are "Objectivist Bands."  In fact, I'd say a a lot of them have lyrics that are antithetical to Objectivism. 

My friend who I mentioned is objectivist...granted, he only has himself, negating "band" but his lyrics and values are most definitely objectivist.

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I'd like to add one more thing. 

None of the bands listed on this thread are "Objectivist Bands."  In fact, I'd say a a lot of them have lyrics that are antithetical to Objectivism. 

I grew up listening to rock/punk rock/emo/alternative and playing it in my bands in highschool (I'm a guitarist).  It was always so disappointing to listen to a song that at first listen seemed great and then to hear the lyrics which were so horrible. 

This is why I origionally started this thread. I was becoming extremely disappointed with the horrible lyrics. First off, there were not that many responses to "Objectivist bands". When the topic shifted, I asked if I needed to start a new thread, but since nobody answered, I figured I might as well talk about other bands. If anybody has a problem with this, I have no problem discontinuing this thread. Although, would starting a new one simply labled "bands" really be appropriate in a forum such as this one?

Zak

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Only one person has suggested any jazz, the pinnacle of technical (excepting classical musicians) and improvisational prowess in music. Listening to jazz is certainly not a passive, animalistic experience. Rather, it is active, challenging, and ultimately much more rewarding than any current pop/rock music out there now. I find it interesting that more of you haven't given jazz more credit considering the abundance of objectivists here who supposedly lionize the prime movers. Those with the greatest ability, the highest achievers, play jazz. You can argue all day about who the greatest rock guitarist was, Jimmy Page, Hendrix, Van Halen, but compared to guys like Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, or Jim Hall, they're playing kids' stuff. Likewise for horn players, pianists, etc. These guys dedicate their lives to creating the absolute best music possible, as do classical musicians. Pop and rock guys don't. Their technical ability - tone, accuracy, range - is laughable. There exists no harmonic or melodic interest in their tunes - they are simple and childish. There is no reason why someone who values ability would want to listen to them.

:worry:

Sorry, buddy, I listen for the song as a whole unit, not the particular technical virtuosity of single players.

And your list of rock musicians who supposedly can't play what the jazz guys do-please! Once you can play the chords and rip through the scales, you can play everything. The only thing after that is songwriting, improvisation, and your own personal style.

Now if you want to talk about the higher technical classical guitar, that would be a different story. But, then we are talking about really different music, and an entirely different method of guitar play that differs not merely from rock, but from, blues, country, bluegrass, and your beloved jazz.

Those with the greatest ability, the highest achievers, play jazz.

This is a bunk claim. What about what someone wants to play? What about the kid that is prodigy on the guitar, can blow anybody out the door at 12, one day finds himself blown away when he tries a Les Paul in front of a blaring Marshall stack?

And classical guitar is much harder to play than jazz, so your claim is factually untrue on two points.

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When I listen to classical music (using the term loosely here to describe all genres such as Classical, Romantic, etc.), I cannot do anything else. Listening to the music is an activity in itself that requires concentration and focus. I like to listen to a whole piece, from beginning to end, in one sitting. When the music is good, I'm rewarded by an intense emotional response.

When I listen to rock music, I usually do it while I'm walking around, checking email, driving, excersizing, etc. The music is simple enough that I can enjoy it while doing many other things simulataneously.

It's funny, because it's the opposite for me. I listen to classical as background when I do work, especailly writing papers for class or studying for exams. When I listen to rock, I think I concentrate on the lyrics more to get the feel for the song.

None of the bands are "Objectivist", but we said this half-way in the thread.

It's also more difficult to judge music than it is to judge paintings or literature. Maybe that's because I have no formal education in music, but I have a handful of classical CDs by different composers and I can't tell the difference in quality of the work.

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And your list of rock musicians who supposedly can't play what the jazz guys do-please! Once you can play the chords and rip through the scales, you can play everything. The only thing after that is songwriting, improvisation, and your own personal style.

I've heard this one too many times.

Sorry buddy, once you can play the chords and rip through scales, you can't play everything. In fact, if that's all you can do, you can't really play anything. I never divided technical ability, songwriting, improvisation, and uniqueness. They all are vital qualities of good musicians. I said rock guys can't - or choose not to - create such demanding music for want of said qualities. Those are the qualities of good music. I want to listen to good music.

Anybody can lock himself in a room for 8 hours a day with a metronome for ten years and play like Chris Impelliteri, but he will have achieved nothing in terms of being able to fluently pick the absolute best notes to play at the best times. Most of the guys on chopsfromhell are like this.

Improvisation and composition are the same things; improvisation just takes place on a much shorter time-scale. I value a piece of music based on how good it sounds, which bears a direct corellation to the talent of the composer and/or improvisor. The rock guys I cited absolutely cannot improvise as freely as good jazz musicians. By freely, I am not talking about pentatonic freak-outs. I'm talking about communicating effectively the best possible musical statement given the context of the song. You can't do this with a rock vocabulary. It's like a third grader trying to write a piece of legitimate literature.

I agree, the "big three" guitar gods, Vai, Satch, Malmsteen (and EJ), can play the shit out of the instrument, and they also improvise and compose beautifully, but they are exceptions. They were also ignored by everyone here.

Now if you want to talk about the higher technical classical guitar, that would be a different story. But, then we are talking about really different music, and an entirely different method of guitar play that differs not merely from rock, but from, blues, country, bluegrass, and your beloved jazz.

"Higher technical classical guitar", as you put it, has far more in common with jazz than any of the other styles you've mentioned. They both require the utmost technical ability (bluegrass and country do too). What classical guitar lacks in improvisational demand is interpretation and a requirement for a greater level of technical command. While I never claimed that jazz was harder to play than classical music (I excepted classical from my analysis), it certainly isn't easier.

Jazz is primarily an instrumental genre. Comparing it to rock/pop is silly and a waste of time.

Well, the question was about bands was it not? Jazz is played by bands. Jazz is therefore relevant to this discussion. Finally, if the music is strong enough, it doesn't need lyrics to make a statement.

In order to make music that evokes emotional response in an active listener (not as a soundtrack as you chase ass on a saturday night), you need superior musicality - the ability to compose, improvise, and play your instrument. Contrary to popular belief, there are objective standards that measure these things. Rock/pop music is inferior in this regard; most of it is hack-work, though there are exceptions. I will concede that the best classical performances are better than the best jazz performances, but just barely.

I grew up on rock/pop. I still love it. However, the experience you get as an active listener to jazz and classical is far more fulfilling than attentively listening to rock and pop.

:thumbsup:

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None of the bands are "Objectivist", but we said this half-way in the thread.
Sorry, I've been reading the thread, but I missed this.

Minor:

There exists no harmonic or melodic interest in their tunes - they are simple and childish. There is no reason why someone who values ability would want to listen to them.

I grew up on rock/pop. I still love it. However, the experience you get as an active listener to jazz and classical is far more fulfilling than attentively listening to rock and pop.
... Kind of confused here. You still love rock/pop? If you love it, I'm assuming you value and listen to it on occasion. And since I'm sure you consider yourself someone who "values ability," I see direct contradictions in your two statements. Can you please clarify?

Overall I think your second statement by itself is in harmony ( :nuke: ) with what I said earlier. I agree that the emotional response I get from listening to classical is far greater and more valuable than what I get when I listen to rock/pop. But again, this only occurs when I actively listen by sitting down and concentrating for a prolonged period of time (this may be different for listening to jazz music, which I don't listen to, yet). When I don't have time for this, short simple songs are pleasant to listen to. Their simplicity and catchiness are actually what I value.

Oh yea, and this comment:

(not as a soundtrack as you chase ass on a saturday night)

Is this self descriptive of your own weekend activities that you engage in while listening to the rock/pop music that you love, or is this what you suspect what the people you are conversing with do on their weekends? If the former, I think you should keep such disgusting things to yourself. If the latter, I think it is a bogus and offensive assumption that should be apologized for.

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You can't do this with a rock vocabulary.

I'm sorry, what is a rock vocabulary?

There is nothing inherently restrictive about rock music, no matter how many Korns and Blink-182's and their clones come out of the rabbit hole.

And there is no inherent connection between the quality of a song and its technical complexity.

You might not seperate the set of skills that goes into a musician's playing, but I do not seperate the elements that make the unit known as the song. That is rare to hear done well no matter if they are all first rate musicians or barely able to pull off a G7 chord.

PS. I do like some jazz. And 99.9999% of rock should immediately find its way into a garbage can. I have great respect for the 0.0001% that finds its way into my ears welcomed.

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Finally, if the music is strong enough, it doesn't need lyrics to make a statement.

This isn't about lyrics NEEDING to be present to make a statment, but rather the statments themselves. Let our subject be "pipe".

Lets call language on its own variable "A".

Language + other medium of expression = "B"

Instrumental music= "C"

Instrumental music + another medium = "D"

Abstract/Post Modern Art = "E"

Here are examples of each.

1) "A" could be spoken word or a novel. It is just pure language. Perhaps a book about pipes or a speech about pipes. Perhaps a guide on how to build your own pipe or simply the word "pipe."

2) "B" could be language and visual art/action or language combined with music.

This would be like Rene Magritte's "The Treachery of Images" post-381-1103255789_thumb.jpg

Or it could be a rock song like Weezer's "Hash pipe" that combines music and words.

3) "C" is simply music. It could be a composition. For all we know the author might have written about ponies. When you play it before 20,000 people you get 20,000 interpretations of what the instrumental song is about. It could be about pipes, ponies, or a happy time making love to your wife depending on who you play it for. As Richard Halley points out, music is written by the composers for themselves and isn't necessarily intended to communicate a message.

4) This could be a painting combined with instrumental music that gives the painting a focus in a certain direction. If you play "ode to joy" while viewing "The Treachery of Images" you will get a different focus than if you play "the flight of the bumblebee."

One might give you images of a a glorious man smoking a pipe and the other might give you images of a guy smoking himself into lunacy. Big difference. Both interpretations are centered around the concrete reality of the physical art and are focussed by the elements which can be interpreted using the basic parameter of "pipe" to fashion your ideas. You can think "What does this piece mean if we give it the context of a this pipe?"

5) This could be metal pipes you use to make a sink that are shaped in the form of a smoking pipe while suspended upside down in urine and attached to gooshy wires.

Does anyone really know the message here?

The point of me going through the trouble of labeling these messages is that the ability to convey messages is almost always done through a combination of mediums and not *just* music.

Rock music communicates an effective message. Classical music postures without communicating anything more than a vague mood or rough concept. The mood itself can often be best inferred through the title. Does anyone really think "Ode to Joy" is intended to convey feelings of despair or angst? Of course not. You probably wouldn't think so even if it just had a number like Beethoven's 9th.

The thing is though, I challenge anyone here in this forum to tell me what Beethoven's 9th is about in any relevant sense. What does it mean? What message does it communicate?

It might convey tension, uplifting ideas, etc...but does it really (on it's own as a solely musical piece excluding any choral parts) convey anything more than rough concepts or moods?

I can understand why people play classical music as mood music or background music.

I think that sitting down to listen to classical music is like masturbation. It is a uniquely private and individual experience that has it's place and time. You can get a LOT from it in terms of utilizing your imagination and what you take from it says a lot about your perceptive capacities and your sense of life.

I see rock music as more of a direct communication or connection with a message that is focused and honed using musical tools/devices (like structure, rules, etc) and just raw music. It is more like a handshake or listening to a speech. It is like reading Atlas Shrugged or watching a movie. Something tangible is conveyed from one party to another.

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I've been following this thread for a while & I have a few things to say.

1) The term itself "Objectivist Bands" is of little value. Years ago I put together a musical group consisting of only Objectivists. We wrote, recorded, gigged, etc. In the end, though, the overall results were not much better or worse than any other band I was in that had members not familiar with Objectivism.

2) Regardless of whether or not a musician is an explicitly self-identified, consistent Objectivist, they can still possess the skills required to write & perform music in which Objectivists can find real, objective values. Was Rachmaninoff an Objectivist? Tchaikovski? Beethoven? Of course not. BUT, some of their work is an incredibly rich source of heroic values for Objecitivsts.

3) I have written pieces explicitly dedicated to Rand by way of sincere gratitude for all she has given me. I offer them to other (& future) Objectivists as a hopefully benevolent way of realizing a rational aesthetic for the future. There will be Objectivists that simply "do not like the sound of it" anyway. Are they wrong? Of course not.

4) Rush is an excellent rock band; often projecting benevolent concepts & values. But, they are not an Objectivist band or even "fully consistent" with Objectivism.

4) Thyod Loki continues to make me LOL. "I am officially out of all loops", some modern pop outfit should be "flogged & burned in an alley", "I feel like a Viking at a tea party." Oh, man, that's good stuff...

5) Jazz IS IN FACT quite comparable to pop music. It WAS IN FACT the pop music of the early 20th century. Many jazz pieces did have lyrics (Gershwin, Berlin, Kern, Porter, Ellington, etc.). Even when jazz started becoming "instrumental" (swing, bop, fusion) it still had it's roots in the old tunes with lyrics. For example, Parker & Coltrane built their careers & techniques around interpretations of old jazz standards that originally had lyrics. The early jazz that did not have lyrics (Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Willie Smith, etc.) finds it's roots in the Baroque Era when it was typical practice to write a theme with a figured bass pattern that could then be "interpreted/improvised" within a certain framework by the performer.

6) As a guitarist of 29 years I am authorized to say that although Vai & Malmsteen are quite good at what they do (hey I like 'em myself for what they are) they are not even close to being the "amazing guitarists" many people give them credit for being. And Page, Clapton, Hendrix? Influential & successful at what they did/do? Yes. Great guitarists? No. That identification should be reserved for individuals such as Andres Segovia, Joe Pass & the amazing Elliot Fisk. Or at least people that use the guitar to it's highest potential: that of a self-contained orchestral device. Mr. minorsevenflatfive (or half-diminished from a classical voice leading perspective), you say that classical does not require interpretation? Have you never heard Segovia interpret Bach? Or Fisk interpret Paganini's violin caprices? Have you not hear the famous tales of improvisational "head-cutting", theme & variation, done in the days of Bach, Mozart & Beethoven?

7) I listened to the Duke Green samples. It is nice stuff, well done. I don't personally like it, but I can appreciate his artistry. Thanks for the heads up.

8) I think Beethoven is the greatest musical craftsman that has yet lived. I think a case could be made that his music is in some ways "objectively, the best available to man". However... To use a Rand analogy, an airplane could be considered an "objectively superior" mode of transportation to a car, but that doesn't mean you should use an airplane to ride down the street a couple of miles to the grocery store.

9) Mr. Tryptonique, I think you are mistaken about classical music communicating only vague, rough emotional content. On the contrary, I think it is extraordinary in it's ability to reflect the widest range of thoughts & emotions all without any help from lyrical content. And in the most private, personal way possible. I think that pop songs, with lyrics, such as the ones you mention are in fact more limited in what they can express/convey/communicate. I think this is true in some ways precisely because they explicitly tell the listener what the song is "about". Please do not misunderstand me, I am sincerely happy you have found music you love & value. I can tell you precisely everything I think that Beethoven's 9th is about, but, it might have very little to nothing in common with what you (or anyone else) might think about it.

10) Finally, it should be obvious by now that music is an intensely personal & private matter. If an individual can honestly find real, objective value in some (or all) aspect(s) of a piece of music, then, this should be sanction enough for that individual.

Christopher Schlegel

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To throw out some of my opinions regarding a few of the issues discussed here;

I value ability when it comes to art (music), and therefore make my selections based on this valuation. However, the ability I value is the ability to create music that invokes emotion consistent with my values. This does not necessarily refer to the music that is the most difficult to play. For example; I am a fan of Baroque music, and specific the work of J.S. Bach. I find that listening to a composition by Bach invokes more life-affirming emotion than when I listen to a composition by Beethoven. However, Beethoven's pieces are certainly much more complex and difficult to play than Bach's. Despite this, Bach had the greater ability to achieve what my values are when it comes to art.

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5) Jazz IS IN FACT quite comparable to pop music. It WAS IN FACT the pop music of the early 20th century. Many jazz pieces did have lyrics (Gershwin, Berlin, Kern, Porter, Ellington, etc.). Even when jazz started becoming "instrumental" (swing, bop, fusion) it still had it's roots in the old tunes with lyrics. For example, Parker & Coltrane built their careers & techniques around interpretations of old jazz standards that originally had lyrics. The early jazz that did not have lyrics (Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Willie Smith, etc.) finds it's roots in the Baroque Era when it was typical practice to write a theme with a figured bass pattern that could then be "interpreted/improvised" within a certain framework by the performer.
As soon as lyrics are divorced from the music I don't think it really warrants the same degree of comparison. Even if you are basing your techniques off from vocal jazz standards, you music is NOT lyrical in nature due to the fact that techniques can be utilized to create entirely different messages and meanings. The technique of humour can be used to do many different things in literature, just like a jazz standard that had lyrics might have it's techniques imitated. That doesn't mean the lyrics are copied, expressed, or even relevant to the overall picture being produced by the imitator and even if it is, how would you really know?

9) Mr. Tryptonique, I think you are mistaken about classical music communicating only vague, rough emotional content.

Let us define some terms:

(from www.refdesk.com) =

Main Entry: vague

Pronunciation: 'vAg

Function: adjective

Inflected Form(s): vagu·er; vagu·est

Etymology: Middle French, from Latin vagus, literally, wandering

1 a : not clearly expressed : stated in indefinite terms <vague accusation> b : not having a precise meaning <vague term of abuse>

2 a : not clearly defined, grasped, or understood : INDISTINCT <only a vague notion of what's needed>; also : SLIGHT <a vague hint of a thickening waistline> <hasn't the vaguest idea> b : not clearly felt or sensed : somewhat subconscious <a vague longing>

3 : not thinking or expressing one's thoughts clearly or precisely <vague about dates and places>

4 : lacking expression : VACANT

5 : not sharply outlined : HAZY

synonym see OBSCURE

- vague·ly adverb

- vague·ness noun

and of course: Main Entry: com·mu·ni·ca·tion

Pronunciation: k&-"myü-n&-'kA-sh&n

Function: noun

1 : an act or instance of transmitting

2 a : information communicated b : a verbal or written message

3 a : a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior <the function of pheromones in insect communication>; also : exchange of information b : personal rapport <a lack of communication between old and young persons>

4 plural a : a system (as of telephones) for communicating b : a system of routes for moving troops, supplies, and vehicles c : personnel engaged in communicating

5 plural but singular or plural in construction a : a technique for expressing ideas effectively (as in speech) b : the technology of the transmission of information (as by print or telecommunication)

- com·mu·ni·ca·tion·al /-shn&l, -sh&-n&l/ adjective

On the contrary, I think it is extraordinary in it's ability to reflect the widest range of thoughts & emotions all without any help from lyrical content.
They are emotions that are based on vague interpretations of concepts without any referents.

You might feel overwhelming joy listening to Beethoven's 9th imagining scenes of Atlas Shrugged or the time you became CEO of a company or who knows what. You might gasp with delight thinking about the best times of your life. You wouldn't simply feel "joy" without any mental connection to anything at all as that would be an emotion that was disconnected with anything based in reality. Even if you had an emotional reaction from music that you couldn't identify, it must have some basis in previous experience, your sense of life, or your principles. Emotions aren't just floating abstractions that pop in and out of people's bodies. As such, the emotions provoked by classical music are really only bringing out what is inside of you already.You don't NEED lyrical concent to provoke thuoghts or emotions. You can have an emotion or thought without any words at all. So it makes sense that music could stimulate thoughts or words inside of you based on your interpretations, your mental capacity, etc.

It just isn't communicating a specific message in a relevant sense.

To communicate you have to have 2 parties that are transmitting data.

If Beethoven is in the background what is communicating in a relevent (non vague) sense? If it is truly data that is a concrete, it cannot be contratictory in nature. However, as you admitted...your thoughts and feelings that are provoked from listening to Beethoven might be 100% different and even contradictory than mine.

How is that possible? It is only possible because a MESSAGE isn't being communicated (like in a movie, lyrical music, a book, a painting) but you are coming up with messages yourself based on a whole lot of different variables like your own life experience, the parameters set by the music, and your imagination.

Classical music is a mirror that to a limited degree can reflect whatever you want it to. I don't really think anyone here (including me) is going to argue that a major chord (by itself) can logically be interpreted as conveying images of horror or suspense. Obviously classical music has rules and structure and enough basis in human experience that the majority of people are going to intuitively understand certain things like "this music is happy and upbeat". So you can't just make up ANY interpretation of classical music that suits your fancy and have it be legitimate. However, once people understand the basic tools of classical music (like "this chord followed by this scale is meant to convey THIS feeling" or "that time signature shift is supposed to do this to the song") then you have a "realm" of possibilities instead of virtually unlimited possibilities (which DEFINITELY separates it from the post modern/abstract art category that I described in my last post).

The fact that classical music DEMANDS imagination and interpretation with extremely limited referents (the only things you have going in your favor are titles, historical context, the artist's life experiences, music theory which gives you certain EXTREMELY limited on how you are supposed to interpret music, and other exogenous factors) makes it extremely personal which we have both agreed upon.

It just isn't communication in any relevant sense of the word.

I think that pop songs, with lyrics, such as the ones you mention are in fact more limited in what they can express/convey/communicate. I think this is true in some ways precisely because they explicitly tell the listener what the song is "about".

I think they communicate which is entirely different from classical music which isn't true communication between two parties AT ALL. As such, I don't see that as being "limited" or even in a comparable realm to classical music.

As far as explicitly telling someone what the song is about, that isn't always or even nearly always the case. I just think language and music together is ultimately more interesting because there are many more concrete referents that we have available due to the presence of language. Those referents can allow us to piece together a picture that I find to be ultimately more relevant to each individuals personal experiences and life.

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You make some good points. Well stated, too! I still want to clarify a bit...

They are emotions that are based on vague interpretations of concepts without any referents.

I do not think this is accurate.

I agree with a great deal of your statements (i.e. "emotions provoked by classical music are really only bringing out what is inside of you already"). But to identify them as vauge & without referents is inaccurate. I have very specfic, well organized, rational conceptual knowledge about music, my emotions & to what they refer.

For purposes here I will use Beethoven's 9th as my example. First, I know/understand specifically how much extraordinary skill went into the original writing & subsequent preformance of the piece. Next, there are many specfic concepts & emotions I experience upon hearing the 9th. The intro is suspense & tension (even though I know what's coming!), the main theme is a struggling, tortured attempt to rise against seemingly insurrmountable obstacles. The second movement has that great 3/4 minor theme that makes me think of thundering determination...broken by pauses of reflective beauty in a related major key that make me think of "taking a break in the middle of a difficult task" to reflect upon work accomlished & still to be done. And we haven't even gotten to the benevolent joy of the finale.

OK, I'm going on too long. Ha!

My long suffering point here is the 9th makes me think of very specific concepts & emotions. They are of course related to concrete experiences in my life (or yes you are right in my imagination). For example, Justice: it is a wide concept requiring many concretes. & a large amount of concrete situations can be identified as containing justice. You are correct that the 9th does not tell me specifically how, for example, a villain in a book acts in a certain manner & the hero eventually brings him to justice. That is where I use my imagination or life experience. But it amazing (to me at least) that Beethoven can trigger these thoughts & emotions without words.

As far as your defining the terms vague & communication...

Was that humor, condescension...?

If Beethoven is in the background what is communicating in a relevent (non vague) sense?...

The "data" is the auditory info that Beethoven has organized so exquisitely. I don't think there is a conflict between data & a message being conveyed. I don't think there needs to be a lyric always present "I am happy...now I am angry...& now I am feeling melancholy...".

Even in songs with lyrics there are instrumental sections. & when a song has lyrics it helps if the musical data is integrated with the lyrical content. Would any song you like be the same without the musical data?

Classical music is a mirror that to a limited degree can reflect whatever you want it to.

That is oversimplification on your part. It can if the listeners mind is sufficiently disorganized. But as far as reflecting specfic things, that is what all art I value does: it concretizes my highest ideals & aspirations. The 9th is a concrete audio object that upon experiencing helps me to visualize wonderful concepts that I can then relate to other concretes I have previously experienced.

This is starting to sound like an analogy for reading a book. Concretely, you are just sitting there, reading, thinking. There is no actual person running a steel mill, inventing amazing metals, giving heroic speeches, stopping the motor of the world. It's all in your mind (and on the paper); none of those people or events ever actually existed. You never saw them or conversed with them.

It just isn't communication in any relevant sense of the word.

I think they communicate which is entirely different from classical music which isn't true communication between two parties AT ALL. As such, I don't see that as being "limited" or even in a comparable realm to classical music.

A great deal of this goes back to the various categories you spoke of in a previous post (i.e. instrumental music vs. music with lyrics, etc.). So I can see your point. But, I still think in terms of only musical construction Beethoven is the best (instrumental, the music part of songs that have lyrics, etc.).

As far as explicitly telling someone what the song is about, that isn't always or even nearly always the case.

OK, that was oversimplification on my part. It does however narrow the field somewhat to a more specific set of concretes being referred to sometimes.

I just think language and music together is ultimately more interesting because there are many more concrete referents that we have available due to the presence of language.

Fair enough! You have clarified your personal preferences & values in lucid, thorough manner. Thanks for the opportunity to let me do the same.

Christopher Schlegel

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have very specfic, well organized, rational conceptual knowledge about music, my emotions & to what they refer.

For purposes here I will use Beethoven's 9th as my example. First, I know/understand specifically how much extraordinary skill went into the original writing & subsequent preformance of the piece. Next, there are many specfic concepts & emotions I experience upon hearing the 9th. The intro is suspense & tension (even though I know what's coming!), the main theme is a struggling, tortured attempt to rise against seemingly insurrmountable obstacles. The second movement has that great 3/4 minor theme that makes me think of thundering determination...broken by pauses of reflective beauty in a related major key that make me think of "taking a break in the middle of a difficult task" to reflect upon work accomlished & still to be done. And we haven't even gotten to the benevolent joy of the finale.

OK, I'm going on too long. Ha!

I apologize because I was a bit hasty and extreme when I put that classical music doesn't have ANY referents. It does. As I stated earlier, those referents are the rules and structure in classical music itself. The 3/4 minor theme is a classical tool that you can look back on and say "ah ha! That is a strong movement that implies determination, strength, etc." The intro's tension doesn't come from nowhere, it comes from musical tools that are utilized.

But it amazing (to me at least) that Beethoven can trigger these thoughts & emotions without words.

I agree. It takes loads and loads of natural ability, training, etc to be able to do that. One thing that I would like to point out is that music has it's roots in many metaphysical concretes. For example, flutes are often compared to the sounds birds make, oboes have been compared to ducks, and violins are most often compared to a human voice.

I'm not trying to grotesquely oversimplify things, but take a look at Peter and the Wolf:).

I think it makes a good point that the music itself has an element of physical reality in it that more likely than not inspired the artists who created the instruments.

Thus, thoughts and emotions provoked by music are able to be provoked by very concrete things. Those concretes aren't necessarily communicated however...but I will get to that later in my post. :P

As far as your defining the terms vague & communication...

Was that humor, condescension...?

Much apologies, friend. I was intending no disrespect and wasn't implying that you were ignorant, didn't know English, or anything of the sort.

I was a debater for 4 years in high school and defining terms or dealing with accepted and understood definition is important when advancing an argument.

The reason I did what I did is to make it SUPER clear that the position I was advancing was NOT that classical/instrumental music doesn't inspire something nor was I trying to say that it was worthless or that it communicated absolutely nothing.

I wanted to make it clear what I meant by "communication" and "vague" so that way there wasn't any confusion on anyone's part.

The "data" is the auditory info that Beethoven has organized so exquisitely. I don't think there is a conflict between data & a message being conveyed.

Data by itself is just data.

Dog, cat, hat, brown, smelly, delicious.

Those words MEAN something by themselves, but they don't communicate anything past a simple image or thought.

Saying "The dog ate the brown cat and thought it was delicious and later it had smelly breath" says a lot more.

Music is definitely data and it isn't a floating abstraction. The glue that binds music are the rules regarding what you DO with music when you compose. It is no different than grammar in that sense.

To communicate an effective message though, you need a firm basis in reality. The word "dog" has a referent. Labrador retriever has more referents.

C# doesn't really refer to anything in a metaphysical sense so it is harder to simply play one note on an instrument and derive meaning from it.

When you compose you get a better picture, but it ultimately MUST be completed internally or else it is 100% meaningless. It takes meaning only from those who know how to use it for themselves. As such, communication isn't really taking place.

Even in songs with lyrics there are instrumental sections. & when a song has lyrics it helps if the musical data is integrated with the lyrical content.
I would argue that it is actually necessary to have lyrica/music integration unless you are trying to create a thematic parody, sarcasm, or bitterness.

Playing a happy polka while singing about suicide would be a rare thing. Just like playing a funeral march while singing about personal achievement would also be rare.

Would any song you like be the same without the musical data?

Nope. It also wouldn't be a song either. :D

This is starting to sound like an analogy for reading a book. Concretely, you are just sitting there, reading, thinking. There is no actual person running a steel mill, inventing amazing metals, giving heroic speeches, stopping the motor of the world. It's all in your mind (and on the paper); none of those people or events ever actually existed. You never saw them or conversed with them.
When reading a book you have to ask yourself "Who is conveying a message?"

Ayn Rand is communicating with her readers by way of her stories. She is telling us about a philosophical system that lets men achieve their highest potential and true happiness. Take away the writer and you don't have the book.

When I read, I do just sit and think:). However, all of the elements (characters, sentence/grammatical structure, events in the story,) come together to create a picture that actually says something.

You can't really say that Ayn Rand's message in AS was "Don't have sex with pink kangaroos." That would have ZERO basis in reality because we have concretes to work with that DO provide a communication between author and reader. The same thing goes for a letter written from one person to another.

If instead of getting a letter saying "Evan, we are having an Objectivist club meeting on Tuesday" I received an email featuring nothing but an attachment of Beethoven's 9th I would be screwed!

A lyric isn't as concrete as a simple message, but there is a difference between thematic presentations based on overarching abstractions (like "Justice" or "perserverance") that lack specific detail.

A sentence without a direct object isn't really a sentence is it?

Music lacks such definition and that is why I don't see it as communication between two parties. I see it as an artist putting their very soul on display instead of an artist using their soul to say something (even if there isn't an actual intended audience...like Emily Dickenson who never published any of her work).

The 9th is a concrete audio object that upon experiencing helps me to visualize wonderful concepts that I can then relate to other concretes I have previously experienced.

See above.

I would also like to thank you because I appreciate the sense of life you demonstrate by speaking so adoringly of the music you listen to. You clearly feel very profound things that affect you deeply. You also have provided an interesting conversation. I look forward to your reply.:D

-Evan

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Mr. minorsevenflatfive (or half-diminished from a classical voice leading perspective), you say that classical does not require interpretation? Have you never heard Segovia interpret Bach? Or Fisk interpret Paganini's violin caprices? Have you not hear the famous tales of improvisational "head-cutting", theme & variation, done in the days of Bach, Mozart & Beethoven?

What classical guitar lacks in improvisational demand is interpretation and a requirement for a greater level of technical command.

That was a typo; I meant to say that what classical music lacks in improvisational demand is made up by a greater requirement for interpretation and technical command. As for improvisation, yes, I've heard/read about improvisational headcutting and done my share of figured bass improvisation. The problem is, classical musicians nowadays, instrumentalists, not composers, cannot improvise. There are exceptions, of course, but not many.

A rock vocabulary is the musical vocabulary used to make rock music. I don't see what is so hard about this.

The "chasing ass" comment does not apply to me nor to anyone on this board. It applies to the large majority of people who listen to rock music. Most importantly, pop/rock/hiphop is mass produced, simple music that philistines can listen to while doing other things.

I value only a very small percentage of rock music, and even then what I get out of it doesn't compare to the satisfaction I derive from jazz and classical. I listen to it because it amuses me. I listen to "art music" because I achieve a very deep level of happiness in doing so.

Question: Isn't instrumental music the purest form of music as such? If you take away all of which instrumental music consists (melody, harmony, rhythm, etc.) from pop/rock, aren't you left with poetry at best? In other words, I don't see how lyrics add anything "musical" to music. When you speak of music and the message it conveys, lyrics don't count, as I see it.

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The "chasing ass" comment does not apply to me nor to anyone on this board. It applies to the large majority of people who listen to rock music. Most importantly, pop/rock/hiphop is mass produced, simple music that philistines can listen to while doing other things.

I value only a very small percentage of rock music, and even then what I get out of it doesn't compare to the satisfaction I derive from jazz and classical. I listen to it because it amuses me. I listen to "art music" because I achieve a very deep level of happiness in doing so.

At first glance, it would appear you are ascribing an objective value to rock music (simple music for ass-chasing philistines) based on your own personal disinterest in it.

Not all pop/rock/hiphop is mass produced. Perhaps the bit that you happen to be exposed to is, but for every empty-headed major-label plantinum-record-selling mega act, there are dozens of bands in bars, basements, and clubs playing rock music primarily because they enjoy doing it. They enjoy writing it, they enjoy working on it, and they enjoy playing it for themselves and for others.

I've never had trouble acknowledging the skill, talent, and incredibly hard work that goes into composing classical music. I absolutely do acknowledge all of those things, and yet I am just about as indifferent to listening to classical music as one can be. It's just not my cup of tea. It doesn't stir my emotions the way you claim it stirs yours. Am I to understand that because I identify much more closely with rock music and derive a great deal of happiness from listening to and playing it, I am therefore a simpleminded philistine?

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For purposes here I will use Beethoven's 9th as my example.  First, I know/understand specifically how much extraordinary skill went into the original writing & subsequent preformance of the piece.  Next, there are many specfic concepts & emotions I experience upon hearing the 9th.  The intro is suspense & tension (even though I know what's coming!), the main theme is a struggling, tortured attempt to rise against seemingly insurrmountable obstacles.  The second movement has that great 3/4 minor theme that makes me think of thundering determination...broken by pauses of reflective beauty in a related major key that make me think of "taking a break in the middle of a difficult task" to reflect upon work accomlished & still to be done.  And we haven't even gotten to the benevolent joy of the finale.

That is exactly the way I feel about Beethoven's 9th too.

The emotion it essentially provokes in me is of unlimited passion and integrity with titanic struggles and victory.

Beethoven's music, IMO, does not reflect the correct ideas. What it does reflect to me is the perfect "sense of life".

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Question: Isn't instrumental music the purest form of music as such? If you take away all of which instrumental music consists (melody, harmony, rhythm, etc.) from pop/rock, aren't you left with poetry at best?.
Nope. Have you ever heard of the term "acapella?" :P

Normally when one thinks of acapella...they think of jazzy/pop-like Motown type songs being sung by barbershop quartets. That isn't necessarily the case.

If you have vocal ability and you take a rock song and sing it without any accompaniment while in the shower, are you telling me that it lacks melody, rhythm, harmony, etc?

In other words, I don't see how lyrics add anything "musical" to music. When you speak of music and the message it conveys, lyrics don't count, as I see it

Lyrics aren't just written words that are poetic or pretty. They are written words that are vocally expressed. This is known as singing for the uninitiated. :D What you are telling me is that you don't see the human voice as adding anything "musical" to music. Have you ever heard of opera?

Dude...even check this guy out and tell me you aren't impressed by the human voice: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/beatbox.html

The "chasing ass" comment does not apply to me nor to anyone on this board. It applies to the large majority of people who listen to rock music.
That is a pretty gross generalization that lacks ZERO empirical data or warrant to back it up.

Most importantly, pop/rock/hiphop is mass produced, simple music that philistines can listen to while doing other things

This is interesting coming from an Objectivist. Why is mass production a BAD thing? Great pieces of art work are reproduced all of the time. Go to Cordair.com and you can buy gliclee reproductions of an artist's work.

If Cordair was the biggest art gallery in the U.S would you bitch about their art being "mass produced" as well?

I thought Objectivists were supposed to be into that crazy thing called capitalism :D . I would have thought that the site of hundreds of CDs being pressed to go to sale would make one HAPPY and not all angsty and bitter.

As far as simplicity goes...I will restate my point on this in bold so maybe it will be read this time and we won't have to keep rehashing this.

Ray Vernagus (also known as "Bowzer" on this site) said that :"One of the things that makes pop music popular is the way that it takes crow epistemology into account. The songs are typically short and do not place a large demand upon your awareness. Lyrics are quick and to-the-point. Musical motifs are simple (but powerful) and usually involve simple measures. A good pop tune is like a good principle in that it compacts a plethora of information into a single retainable unit. I see these as virtues for pop music." -Ray Vernagus on OO.net

Sometimes great depth can be found in simplicity.

You can write a huge classical piece that is technically brilliant that no one can really retain or remember much about. The song won't necessarily get stuck in your head or anything of the sort.

My girlfriend wrote me something interesting about this: "It's harder to write short, memorable music, than long, hard-to-remember stuff. It's like the difference between a Rach. prelude and a Bruckner symphony. Never heard of Bruckner? My point exactly."

Not all pop/rock/hiphop is mass produced. Perhaps the bit that you happen to be exposed to is, but for every empty-headed major-label plantinum-record-selling mega act, there are dozens of bands in bars, basements, and clubs playing rock music primarily because they enjoy doing it. They enjoy writing it, they enjoy working on it, and they enjoy playing it for themselves and for others.

Once again...why is everyone scrambling to damn the mass production of music? I think it is pretty badass that musicians can rake in lots of money. Can you imagine Beethoven turning down million dollar royalty checks if they would have had mass scale CD-production, big global tours that were conducted via plane/bus, etc?

I also think it is important to note that just because a band is successful (major label platinum acts) doesn't mean that they suck by default or are "empty headed." Do you realize how much work it takes to get signed by a decent label?

The Beatles got started playing little dingy clubs in England and went on to be global superstars. What is wrong with that? Why does sucess mean that you aren't enjoying making your music in contrast to the "little guys" in bars and clubs?

I'm not seeing why these traits appear to be mutually exclusive in your minds.

Please enlighten me.

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Once again...why is everyone scrambling to damn the mass production of music? I think it is pretty badass that musicians can rake in lots of money. Can you imagine Beethoven turning down million dollar royalty checks if they would have had mass scale CD-production, big global tours that were conducted via plane/bus, etc?

I should have been clearer in my meaning, I apologize. Don't get me wrong, Tryptonique-- I'm with you 100% on the idea that mass production doesn't automatically equate to low quality. I used the term "mass production" in the same sense that I believed (though I could certainly be wrong) minorsevenflat5 used it, to mean something along the lines of a Britney/Xtina/Backstreet Boys kind of thing. I don't mean that even their music is completely devoid of any quality whatsoever, but my point is that I don't think it's unreasonable to posit that such music is made primarily to be consumed in mass quantities by people with money to spend, as opposed to break new musical ground, introduce new and challenging ideas, build on old ones, or even do much else of anything other then be "dance-able" to and/or to be used as marketing tools to sell products other than music (Pepsi, whatever). Not that I even have a problem with any of that! My only problem is people lumping ALL of the artists in a given genre into the lowest common denominator and making generalizations based on that.

I'm not knocking the capitalist system, not at all. I'm knocking the idea that ALL rock/pop music is necessarily of the same quality as Britney, etc.

For example, Brian Wilson/the Beach Boys made great, great, great pop music, AND it was mass produced, and I think that's absolutely swell in every way. That Ray Vernagus/Bowzer quote you provided is extremely eloquent, and I agree totally.

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I forgot to agree emphatically with this earlier...

I don't listen to Classical music solely because I value the amount of work and dedication that went into making the piece.  I listen to it because it accurately inspires some positive emotion in me to an extreme degree...

...But, ability and technical expertise does not imply that the piece will be of any value to me.  An example would be many of Mozart's pieces that are so robotic and repetitive, although highly sophisticated, that are utterly uninspiring to me. 

That is a very good point. I am not a musical snob, valuing classical solely because it's complicated & difficult & other music is "low, simple stuff". I love a very small minority of music in many different genres; including classical.

Mozart definitely "phoned in" some of his stuff. Terrible; personally, he doesn't even get interesting to me until after his 17th piano concerto & 35th symphony. & most of his operas are hardly tolerable excepting a few airas & overtures.

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I find that listening to a composition by Bach invokes more life-affirming emotion than when I listen to a composition by Beethoven.  However, Beethoven's pieces are certainly much more complex and difficult to play than Bach's. Despite this, Bach had the greater ability to achieve what my values are when it comes to art.

This is fascinating. I am opposite. Respect Bach as a towering genius; but don't like the results he achieves.

I can go into more detail later if necessary (and probably in another thread) but a great deal of it comes down to his specific voice leading choices, thematic structuring & phrasing. I prefer Beethoven.

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That was a typo; I meant to say that what classical music lacks in improvisational demand is made up by a greater requirement for interpretation and technical command...The problem is, classical musicians nowadays, instrumentalists, not composers, cannot improvise. There are exceptions, of course, but not many.

Fair enough. Thanks for clarification. Sadly you are correct about the lack of creativity in many current day students & practitioners of classical music.

If you haven't yet, please check out Elliot Fisk Homepage. You can get his CDs from cdbaby.com.

Also if you love jazz, are you aware of the amazing Art Tatum?

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That is exactly the way I feel about Beethoven's 9th too.  The emotion it essentially provokes in me is of unlimited passion and integrity with titanic struggles and victory. Beethoven's music, IMO, does not reflect the correct ideas. What it does reflect to me is the perfect "sense of life".

Love your avatar image. I am glad to meet another passionate admirer of Beethoven. BTW his 7th symphony is actual my fave. I was just using the 9th because that was the original context.

Perhaps you & Tryptonique are on to something with this issue. Perhaps it would be best to say that B's music doesn't contain specific data "about" "correct ideas", it does, however, provoke & resonate with the "correct ideas" (rational values & virtues) in my mind.

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One thing that I would like to point out is that music has it's roots in many metaphysical concretes...flutes are often compared to the sounds birds make, oboes have been compared to ducks, and violins are most often compared to a human voice...I'm not trying to grotesquely oversimplify things, but take a look at Peter and the Wolf:).

Good observation. Yes, all instruments in some respect probably had their origin in mimicing the human voice &/or other "natural sounds". The human voice has of course held sway in some ways as the most captivating & valuable in music; both literally & in the sense of a reference point. I think P&tW is an excellent example/case in point. Or the birds Beethoven mimics in the 6th, etc.

& of course most people immediately focus on voice over music.

We're riding in the car, listening to the radio & I say, "That bass line is good, but this song has a terrible chord progression". My wife says, "There's a bass in the song? Anyway, be quiet. I can't hear the lyrics when you're talking & I like this song...even if the chords are bad."

Much apologies, friend. I was intending no disrespect and wasn't implying that you were ignorant, didn't know English, or anything of the sort...I was a debater...

Ah, a debater... Ha! No need for apologies. I can now see that you were merely being sincere in clarifying your terms. Especially since...

When you compose you get a better picture, but it ultimately MUST be completed internally or else it is 100% meaningless. It takes meaning only from those who know how to use it for themselves. As such, communication isn't really taking place...I see it as an artist putting their very soul on display instead of an artist using their soul to say something...

OK. That was well stated. I see why you defined the word "communication" previously. I was using it in quite a different sense than you. Your use of the term is much more narrow & precise. Mine is rather broad & perhaps too loose.

If instead of getting a letter saying "Evan, we are having an Objectivist club meeting on Tuesday" I received an email featuring nothing but an attachment of Beethoven's 9th I would be screwed!

That is very funny! & well said. I definitely get your point here.

I would also like to thank you because I appreciate the sense of life you demonstrate by speaking so adoringly of the music you listen to. You clearly feel very profound things that affect you deeply. You also have provided an interesting conversation. I look forward to your reply.:confused:

-Evan

And now you have my latest reply. I thank you, also. You have provided me with an excellent, thought provoking discussion; I appreciate the time & effort you have put in to this. More later when I get time.

Merry Christmas to you! And to everyone in the forum!

Christopher Schlegel

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