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dondigitalia
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I am in the middle of reading The Romantic Manifestp, specifically the article on "Art and Cognition." Rand states that the musical experience lies on the sensory and perceptual levels of cognition, rather than the conceptual, as do other art forms.

The higher animals do have percepts, and they do have emotions. If no conceptual faculty is needed, why do the higher animals not experience music the way humans do?

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The higher animals do have percepts, and they do have emotions. If no conceptual faculty is needed, why do the higher animals not experience music the way humans do?

Emotions in humans are much more complex and thus, allow for a much richer experience. Our emotions have conceptual roots. Most importantly, I think, is the fact that our emotions are self-made. When you hear a piece of music that invokes your deepest emotions, you connect to that music personally because you have created that same atmosphere in your own emotional context.

Compare the fright that a cat might experience upon hearing the shriek of a Schoenberg piece to the contempt that I experience--a philosophically/esthetically rooted contempt that summarizes my disdain for all man-hating intellectuals. Quite a difference there but fundamentally the cat and I agree. :)

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I think I understand. Do you mean:

The experience of interpreting sound occurs on the sensory/perceptual level and can be experienced by animals. The personal connection to music occurs because of the contextual/emotional atmosphere created by the human mind, which does require a conceptual facutly.

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That's basically it. Think about how Miss Rand put it in:

...music is experienced as if it reversed man's normal psycho-epistemological process.

...The pattern of the process involved in music is: from perception—to emotion—to appraisal—to conceptual understanding.

Both animals and man share the first three parts of this process. My cat hears the shriek, experiences fear, and this is appraised as bad so it runs away. I hear the same shriek and I experience contempt which I also appraise as bad. This turns into a conceptual understanding of Schoenberg's approach to music and the utter destruction that he unleashed on that art form just as intellectuals of his era assaulted truth and reality. Then I run away to join my cat. :)

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Emotions in humans are much more complex and thus, allow for a much richer experience.

Yes, and it is also interesting to note that the music of primitive tribes is almost always rythmical, not melodic. Melody adds a further complexity in tune (pardon the pun) with a more advanced consciousness. But going in the other direction, to a less advanced consciousness, that of animals, it is not clear that animals are really capable of recognizing rythym. The perception of sound intervals is not the same as integrating the time ordering of sounds into a rythmic whole. Animals may not really experience music, in the sense that music is not simply individual sounds.

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Animals may not really experience music, in the sense that music is not simply individual sounds.

Could this be because of the temporal-mathematic nature of music. What I mean is, do animals not comprehend rythmic patterns because they cannot comprehend mathematic temporal relationships?

This would indicate to me that the muscial experience does require a coneptual faculty.

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Could this be because of the temporal-mathematic nature of music. What I mean is, do animals not comprehend rythmic patterns because they cannot comprehend mathematic temporal relationships?

This would indicate to me that the muscial experience does require a coneptual faculty.

The hard case to deal with is bird song, which, like music created by humans, can be given a mathematical analysis. Although musicians may be consciously aware of these mathematical relations, it is not not required (though you may want to argue that the compositions of J. S. Bach cannot be serendipitously highly structured).

I think the essential difference between (human) music and bird song is function. With humans, the purpose is to stir the emotions and make certain connections; but with birds, it's just identification -- "I'm here, I'm here, I'm here, me me me me". If there were some evidence that birds distinguish "good song" from "bad song", you might argue that birds are able to enjoy music. Otherwise, I think the strongest thing you can say about bird "music" is that they can produce complicated patterns, but that does not make it music.

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I wouldn't call bird song music at all; it is just a pretty sound. Granted, a bird song does share some aspects with music, such as the ability to be analyzed mathematically. I wouldn't call it rythmic, though. Any similarities between a bird's call and music are purely coincidental.

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Could this be because of the temporal-mathematic nature of music. What I mean is, do animals not comprehend rythmic patterns because they cannot comprehend mathematic temporal relationships?

The notion is right but that is too high a level. If that were the case, then we would not see such prevalence of rythym in truly primitive tribes.

Consider the simple case of two men walking together. Observation shows that they automatically synchronize their steps, in a rythym which forms the base of more sophisticated actions in dance and music. This sort of behavior is generally absent in animals. For animals running side by side, or for singing birds, there is rarely any unison of action. The reason for this distinction between man and most other animals is the level of the consciousness involved. The rythymic behavior in man is a feedback mechanism of some level of conscious attention which has become automatized. When synchronistic behavior is observed in other animals, it is typically not rythymic, a consequence of a limit on and lack of purposeful behavior for its conscious mechanisms.

There are exceptions to this as a rule, but, for the most part, rythymic behavior in animals is grossly misattributed.

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Consider the simple case of two men walking together. Observation shows that they automatically synchronize their steps, in a rythym which forms the base of more sophisticated actions in dance and music. This sort of behavior is generally absent in animals.

<snip>

The rythymic behavior in man is a feedback mechanism of some level of conscious attention which has become automatized.

But where specifically in our counsciousness does the attention to rhythm stem from? I don't think it's sufficient to just say "some level of conscious attention."

Is this part of that "unknown realm" of music which prevents it from being objectively critiqued? Is it part of some physiology that we have yet to discover?

This is one of those subjects that keeps tugging at me, and I haven't been able to come to any conclusions on my own.

I understand the difference in the way human consciousness functions as opposed to animal consciousness, but what I'm trying to grasp here are the specifics of why we experience music the way we do.

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Permit me to first apologize for my horrible misspelling of rhythm in my preceding post, the one quoted here.

But where specifically in our counsciousness does the attention to rhythm stem from? I don't think it's sufficient to just say "some level of conscious attention."

It was sufficient for my point of noting that rhythm is primarily associated with a higher-level consciousness, that of a human as opposed to other animals. But, to directly answer your question, as I mentioned in my post, I think you were close to the answer, but the "mathematic" part places it on too high a level, at least for explaining the fundamental aspect of rhythm.

The two-men-walking-in-step example was to highlight how we can automate what was once a fully conscious process. But, take an even simpler example: how many times have you seen (usually) children walking down the street, perhaps touching every car meter they pass, or intentionally stepping to a pattern in the sidewalk? I think of this as a process of ordering, as a way of consciously arranging what we perceive, into a time-ordered pattern.

In general, as a consequence of possesing a consciousness capable of purposefully affecting the physical world, man places order on the world. He seeks the principles which explain what he observes, and he seeks to order sounds and sights which he perceives. It is a natural consequence of a purposeful consciousness, which is why one so rarely ever sees rhythm in other animals of lesser consciousness.

Is this part of that "unknown realm" of music which prevents it from being objectively critiqued? Is it part of some physiology that we have yet to discover?

The problem is, many researchers have not asked the right questions, so the answers which some get do not seem to apply to what you seek to know. The neurophysiology of hearing is not at the knowledge level of the anatomy of the sense mechanism itself. As with much of the cognitive sciences, a failure to grasp the nature of consciousness severely limits what can be achieved.

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Thanks, Stephen. Your last post turned on a few light bulbs for me.

I'm still holding to the term "mathematical," however. I will clarify what I mean here, though. I'm not trying to imply that there is any sort of conscious computation that occurs when listening to music, but more along the lines of valuative estimation. The specific estimations involved are temporal(rhythmic), and estimations of frequency(melodic). Music is a very mathematic experience for me in this sense.

(If I remember correctly, in ITOE, "mathematical" is used this way in reference to the measurement of attributes.)

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Thanks, Stephen. Your last post turned on a few light bulbs for me.

Glad I could find the switch. :D

I'm still holding to the term "mathematical," however. I will clarify what I mean here, though. I'm not trying to imply that there is any sort of conscious computation that occurs when listening to music, but more along the lines of valuative estimation. The specific estimations involved are temporal(rhythmic), and estimations of frequency(melodic). Music is a very mathematic experience for me in this sense.

In music there are many mathematical relationships, but I think in the basic sense for which we have been discussing the origin of rhythm, the ordering of experience better describes the process. Mathematics is more abstract, and is just one (though important) example of such ordering.

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Guest jrshep
But, take an even simpler example: how many times have you seen (usually) children walking down the street, perhaps touching every car meter they pass, or intentionally stepping to a pattern in the sidewalk? I think of this as a process of ordering, as a way of consciously arranging what we perceive, into a time-ordered pattern.

In general, as a consequence of possesing a consciousness capable of purposefully affecting the physical world, man places order on the world.

Would it not be more accurate to say that we identify the order that is there, and not that we arrange or place order on what we see? (The parking meters are after all lined up and likely close to equal distance apart.) And, the order that we identify, we do so by way of identifying similarities and differences, seeing that all of the parking meters are similar?

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Would it not be more accurate to say that we identify the order that is there, and not that we arrange or place order on what we see? (The parking meters are after all lined up and likely close to equal distance apart.)

I think it more proper to say that what is "out there" are the intervals between objects or events, but rhythm is how we choose to order those objects or events. For instance, in this ultra-simple case of the parking meters, as you say, the meters are spaced at equal intervals. But, if we select each meter we impose one rhythym, and by selecting every third meter another rhythm is imposed. The rhythm is how we order what exists.

And, the order that we identify, we do so by way of identifying similarities and differences, seeing that all of the parking meters are similar?

Yes, but now you are focusing on some of the means by which we discern the intervals which we perceive. That is an interesting discussion in itself, but different from how we order those intervals to form rhythm.

The concept of order is something we impose on the external world. Take a deck of cards. As far as the external world is concerned, there are just 52 cards. Any particular arrangement of cards within the deck is just as significant as any other, as far as physical reality is concerned. Whether they are ordered in an apparently random fashion, or ordered by number within suit, is a discernment which we make, a significance that a human consciousness adds to what physically exists.

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More than "mathematical", I think it's a question of being structured and logical in it's presentation. Listening to music is perceptual in nature but what emotional response we have to it stems from your conceptual whole or our experiences.

Since we are able to hold more information about a piece of music than animals, we see it as a whole rather than sound impulses inter-spaced in time. We hear the logical structure to the piece and what we respond to is the integration and acknowledgement of that structure.

Dinesh.

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Take a deck of cards. As far as the external world is concerned, there are just 52 cards. ...

This is way off topic, but it came to mind. Years ago, someone pointed out some interesting parallels between a deck of cards and a calendar year.

52 weeks in a year; 52 cards in a deck

4 suits; 4 seasons

The sum of all of the numeric ranks (J=11,Q=12,K=13) in a deck of cards is 364, remarkably close to the number of days in a year.

This seems like too much to be pure coincidence. Have any of you heard this before? Does anyone have any background info?

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The concept of order is something we impose on the external world. Take a deck of cards. As far as the external world is concerned, there are just 52 cards. Any particular arrangement of cards within the deck is just as significant as any other, as far as physical reality is concerned. Whether they are ordered in an apparently random fashion, or ordered by number within suit, is a discernment which we make, a significance that a human consciousness adds to what physically exists.

I should clarify this. There is certainly a sense in which "order" exists in the physical world, independently of us. The physical world operates in an orderly fashion in accord with physical laws. In that sense there is order, not chaos. What I have discussed in my previous posts is more a sense of mental or psychological ordering which we apply to the physical world above and beyond the fundamental sense in which order exists.

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This is way off topic, but it came to mind. Years ago, someone pointed out some interesting parallels between a deck of cards and a calendar year.

52 weeks in a year; 52 cards in a deck

4 suits; 4 seasons

The sum of all of the numeric ranks (J=11,Q=12,K=13) in a deck of cards is 364, remarkably close to the number of days in a year.

Adding the Joker card makes it 365 days. Now it is scientifically correct. :D

This seems like too much to be pure coincidence. Have any of you heard this before? Does anyone have any background info?

You're just joking, right? This is just numerology, which can be used to "demonstrate" almost anything you want. Numerology has no significance at all.

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I'm still holding to the term "mathematical," however. I will clarify what I mean here, though. I'm not trying to imply that there is any sort of conscious computation that occurs when listening to music, but more along the lines of valuative estimation.

I think there is a conscious computation that occurs when listening to music, but it is an automatic, mechanical computation going on within our perceptual mechanism.

What is unique to music -- as opposed to sound effects -- is that music is composed of tones. A tone is a sustained sound of one mathematical frequency. Almost every existent which produces a tone is a man-made object because sustaining a sound at one frequency means producing the sound with an entity that is mathematically regular: a flute, stringed instrument, digital instrument, etc.

Observe that tones affect people in similar ways. A C-E-G chord sounds harmonious and pleasant, while a C-D chord is so painfully dissonant it makes most people cringe or screw up their faces as if they just ate something sour.

Why is this?

I have an hypothesis that our experience of harmonious vs. dissonant chords results from the way our perceptual mechanism mathematically processes the combinations of sounds.

Our perceptual mechanism is an automatic, mechanical function of consciousness which we share with many other higher animals. The function of the perceptual mechanism is to integrate sensations, like discrete touches, colors, sounds, shapes, etc., into percepts which give us the knowledge of entities -- i.e., things.

The C-E-G chord involves frequencies with a common multiple such that the sum of the three tones is a complex sustained sound that is also of one frequency. The C and D tones, on the other hand, don't have a common multiple and their sum does not have a regular frequency.

When you hear an harmonious chord, the individual tones are easily, mechanically, mathematically integrated into a tone-like sum and the perceptual mechanism doesn't have to work very hard to do it. When you hear a dissonant chord, the individual tones cannot be integrated, but the perceptual mechanism tries to do it anyway because that's its job -- but trying to do the impossible and failing hurts.

That's why harmony is so pleasant to hear and why dissonance is painful.

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This is way off topic, but it came to mind. Years ago, someone pointed out some interesting parallels between a deck of cards and a calendar year.

I suspect that's because playing cards probably evolved from the tokens and markers primitive men used to count the days and note the seasons.

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I have an hypothesis that our experience of harmonious vs. dissonant chords results from the way our perceptual mechanism mathematically processes the combinations of sounds. 

Our perceptual mechanism is an automatic, mechanical function of consciousness which we share with many other higher animals.  The function of the perceptual mechanism is to integrate sensations, like discrete touches, colors, sounds, shapes, etc., into percepts which give us the knowledge of entities -- i.e., things

....

When you hear an harmonious chord, the individual tones are easily, mechanically, mathematically integrated into a tone-like sum and the perceptual mechanism doesn't have to work very hard to do it.

In the Romantic Manifesto, Rand points out the problem on p. 56: "The nature of musical perception has not been discovered because the key to the secret of music is physiological—it lies in the nature of the process by which man perceives sounds—and the answer would require the joint effort of a physiologist, a psychologist and a philosopher (an esthetician)." When she wrote that, the state of psycology was pretty disreputable, so it's possible that such an investigation is no longer impossible.

She agrees with you on integration, a hypothesis that goes back to Helmholtz, saying "But musical tones heard in a certain kind of succession produce a different result—the human ear and brain integrate them into a new cognitive experience, into what may be called an auditory entity: a melody. The integration is a physiological process; it is performed unconsciously and automatically. Man is aware of the process only by means of its results".

A few pages earlier (p. 54") she notes "Western man can understand and enjoy Oriental painting; but Oriental music is unintelligible to him, it evokes nothing, it sounds like noise. In this respect, the differences in the music of various cultures resemble the differences in language; a given language is unintelligible to foreigners." This is true to the extent that you do not know how to integrate a particular musical pattern. Up to a point, alien musical traditions can be learned and appreciated, but it is not instantaneous. The perceptual system must discover the basis for that integration through experience -- and in some cases, integration may be impossible. That would be a good way to distinguish music from bad "music".

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You're just joking, right? This is just numerology, which can be used to "demonstrate" almost anything you want. Numerology has no significance at all.

I wasn't joking. I'll rephrase.

Where did playing cards originate? Is it possible that whoever created the modern deck of cards in some way modeled after the calendar year?

I just tried looking it up. All of the information I got was very vague.

edit: I just saw your response, Betsy. Are you basing idea on some specific fact, or is that just your best guess?

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I wasn't joking. I'll rephrase.

Where did playing cards originate? Is it possible that whoever created the modern deck of cards in some way modeled after the calendar year?

I just tried looking it up. All of the information I got was very vague.

There are three seminal papers on the origin of playing cards each of which were written more than a century ago.

"Playing Cards from Japan," Science, Vol. 17, No. 435, p. 316, June 5, 1891 (This one is very short, but interesting.)

"The Origin of Playing-Cards," The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 8, No. 30, pp. 250-251, July-September, 1895. (Short, again, but interesting.)

"Chinese Origin of Playing Cards," W.H. Wilkinson, American Anthropologist, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 61-78, January 1895. (This is the classic one.)

There are more modern papers on this, but this should get you started.

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