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Definition of Music

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aPstheday
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The same, then, is true of you. By those own standards, or if I accepted your standards, some pieces that I write, you would not consider music (lack of defined melody and so on...). You have as much proof as I do either way.

All I'm saying is that there should be an objective way of distinguishing some sounds people make which are noise from other sounds people make which are music, and that simply calling certain sounds people make "music" just because you want it to be considered as if it were music isn't enough. There are some "pieces" of "music" from the past century and this one which seem to me perfectly analogous to the urinal-stuck-in-the-art-gallery being considered as art. I mean the type of recordings that are random compilations of people coughing, traffic noises, chainsaws, etc-- with no rhythm, melody, harmony, or even musical instruments present whatsoever throughout the "piece." I know it's possible with modern computer equipment such as samplers to record a noise such as car horns and play it at various pitches so that it becomes melodic, or record a cough and repeat it in such a way that it becomes rhythmical and so forth, and that's periodic so it is music. But my whole point is that if you define music in such a way that any sound or group of sounds can be considered music as much as any other sounds, if you want it to be, then that is an entirely subjective definition; and that the inevitable result is people will do everything they can then to blur any distinctions that could be made between random noise and intentionally devised, periodic, linear, mathematical sounds-- and the next step is for Rachmaninoff and Harold Arlen to be completely forgotten and replaced with "organized" compilations of screams, moans, clanging sheet metal, machine-gun fire, Hitler or a Baptist preacher's speech cadence, a cat leaping across a piano, or whatever, and then instrumentalists attempting to mimic these sounds as closely as they can without losing popular interest.

Don't be silly. I'm talking about compositions using the computer, as opposed acoustic music edited and mixed with a computer.
Well, I could only take you literally since you didn't really explain what you meant. Can you explain how music can be edited and mixed with a computer without "using the computer?" Since compositions are incapable of operating computers, and computers are incapable of composing music on their own, I'm still not that much closer to what you're getting at. Do you mean writing computer programs that will arrange and compose their own music randomly within given parameters, like the arpeggiators on the new synthesizer workstations? Honestly, I create and listen to a lot of music that uses computers in almost every musical way imaginable, and I've heard people make noise with computers, re-wired Speak and Spell's, digital effects processors etc. and call it music, but even still-- I really don't know what you're actually talking about when you say computer music.

This has gotten me thinking-- is an electric guitar considered a computer? You can "store information" by setting the volume and tone knobs for the pickups where you want them. Are analog electronic devices considered computers? Hmm.. (more possibilities open up for what "computer music" could mean..)

[edit]Let's take an interesting example and dissect it. Would you consider The Beatles, "Strawberry fields" music? Most of the piece follows your rigid definition of music, but at the end, they do a primitive "computer" music technique. They took the tape, cut it up into little pieces and then re-arranged it randomly (which is what creates that weird ending). Is it music? Or is it just music up to that point for you?

This was something I was going to get at...[edit]

I don't remember how "Strawberry Fields" ends. I get it confused with the end of "I am the Walrus." But as I said in an earlier post, music can incorporate nonmusical noise and/or silence if it's within the context of the periodic vibrations of sonorous bodies.. But, for example, when they sing a song in a musical-- at a certain point the periodic vibrations die out or fade off and it goes back to plain dialog. So that's a good example of music transitioning into non-musical, organized sound. If I ever hear "Strawberry Fields" again, I'll try and pay attention to the end.

This is the definition underneath the one that Christopher put. (i.e. number 2 in the list)

Oh, oops. I didn't see that. That seems alright.. "A degree," hmm...

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Hmmm...It's funny...Us trying to get to the same place from different angles. Good conversation, though.

As far as the "Computer (or electronic) Music" aspect, I'll try and dig up a better example/definition for you. I had a couple semesters in it in college, but I'm sure how it was taught to me, is not how you'd look at it.

This may be the best info I have for you - computer Music and Electronic Music

At the bottom of the page there is a link to mp3's of some of the first computer music (which, near as I can tell, is just midi files. Which is something different than what I'm talking about. ) It's all interesting stuff (both articles).

Musique Concrete is one of the terms I was looking for.

As far as a guitar? I think that just falls under electronic and not computer. But, I suppose that could be debated on how technical you want to get. Take read (and listen) to some of that stuff and tell me what you think.

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At the bottom of the page there is a link to mp3's of some of the first computer music (which, near as I can tell, is just midi files. Which is something different than what I'm talking about. ) It's all interesting stuff (both articles).

Actually, MIDI wasn't introduced until 1983 (by a guy named Dave Smith) so those recordings predate MIDI. But I have trouble understanding how songs like Yankee Doodle Dandy or Maple Leaf Rag could fit into the definition of "compositions using computer" unless they were composed with the aid of an abacus somehow.. And I don't know why you thought I would regard those as unmusical.

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Actually, MIDI wasn't introduced until 1983 (by a guy named Dave Smith) so those recordings predate MIDI. But I have trouble understanding how songs like Yankee Doodle Dandy or Maple Leaf Rag could fit into the definition of "compositions using computer" unless they were composed with the aid of an abacus somehow.. And I don't know why you thought I would regard those as unmusical.

....This is hard to explain....erg.. :( (my fault...not yours)

Musique Concrete, or electronic music (which I should have said in the first place over computer), is the stuff I was referring to. The mp3 stuff is not. This is probably a better description of what I'm getting at.

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....This is hard to explain....erg.. :dough: (my fault...not yours)

Musique Concrete, or electronic music (which I should have said in the first place over computer), is the stuff I was referring to. The mp3 stuff is not. This is probably a better description of what I'm getting at.

How about stuff like this? I'm not exactly sure what Musique Concrete is, but from reading that wiki article, it seems like it might actually be less musical than the stuff I just linked to. The stuff on the website I linked to would be what I described above as "instrumentalists attempting to mimic [disturbing, nonmusical] sounds as closely as they can without losing popular interest."

If Musique Concrete is "compilations of screams, moans, clanging sheet metal, machine-gun fire, Hitler or a Baptist preacher's speech cadence, a cat leaping across a piano, or whatever," as I described above, then I'd say it's unequivocally not music. But I'm not sure if that's what it is from the description you linked to. It says: "Each of these pieces involved speeding up, looping, and reversing recordings of sound sources like trains, piano and rattling cookware." But it also says, "the sounds are recorded first then built into a tune," and depending on what they mean by "tune," that could mean that it is organized in a way that it is periodic-- ie, in a way that is perceived as melodic, rhythmic, and/or harmonic. In that case, it would unequivocally be music. I'd have to hear some examples.

I don't have any Pink Floyd or Beatles (who are referenced to in the link you posted) at hand, but I don't remember them doing anything that's not music-- except maybe that one song on "Dark Side of the Moon" that's just a bunch of alarm clocks ringing, which wouldn't be music taken by itself.

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