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The question has come up many times here as to what is music.

Isn't that questioned answered by what you compose?

Isn't what you write a reflection of what you believe music is

and/or should be. Or are you merely imitating the efforts and

precedents established by others. This is not to suggest that

imitation and following an established form is a bad thing.

Compared to the number of composers, revolutionary innovators

are few and far between from an historical perspective.

Regardless, there are certain elements of sound and sounds that

seem to separate music from 'noise', and acceptance can be

both individual and regional.

Is there any one common characteristic, across the globe, that

qualifies and separates music from noise?

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+1 with Kristofer here.

It might be fun for a while to engage in this sort of debate, but ultimately it's the doing of composing and not the talking about it that will lead you to the definition of what you want music to be. Ultimately, we all write what we want to hear.

Kristofer Emerig said:

The first questions to be asked, before attempting to define music, is whether any such definition could meaningfully exist, and if so, what pragmatic purpose such a definition could possibly serve. In order for me to give a damn whatsoever about someone's opinions on the art of composing, their works must first lend their words credibility.

Gregorio, Ingo and Mike, What started out as a developing civil discussion

has once again been hi-jacked by egotistical assholes. We were actually

getting somewhere and developing a friendly, constructive dialogue.

Apparently those who believe there is no point in this discussion want to

stomp it down and ruin it for those of us that do want to pursue it.

I wonder if they even took the time to read the original post, much less

address it.

 

Ingo, thank you for your thoughts.

you mention -

  "The "personalized ecstasy" that I so casually threw out would be individual and real time,  compositions that instantly respond to mood changes and interests, kind of sci-fi at this point. Dishonest? Yes, and crazy too, but also commercially irresistible, a definite future possibility for the direction of music. "

I think AI could provide useful experiments for a composer's toolbox.  You mention ", a definite future possibility for the direction of music. "… I would  say it a bit differently.  …  possibility for One of the many  directions of music. 

"I don't know how much AI is used in commercial music at this point, maybe you could explain that to us.   I meant in general, the threat that AI poses to society.  Steven Hawking has said: "I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."   

commercial music … I mean relatedly that these days there is much copying and pasting -  and auto tune ---etc.  (not so much playing these days)

"Would you prefer a computer program to speak your words for you?"  Well that is one threat of AI I think.  As an artist you always have the choice of how to pursue your art, what tools to use and what ideals to follow.  My musical production and communication in general would be very handicapped without the computer, but I'll bet some composers avoid its use entirely, so the question is, "Where do we draw the line?"

Draw the line?

paraphrasing Stravinsky:

Once one has decided on their imposed limitations as a composer, they are set free.

re: the value  of silence ( as mentioned by Fredrick, and Serenity quoting Debussy)

Mozart said:

paraphrasing .. "notes are silver, rests are golden".


 

 

"The first questions to be asked, before attempting to define music, is whether any such definition could meaningfully exist, and if so, what pragmatic purpose such a definition could possibly serve."

I might suggest that "pragmatism," like patriotism, is the last refuge of scoundrels, but such a suggestion could easily be taken amiss.  If pragmatism were taken as a guiding philosophy, then wouldn't most musicians and composers simply give up and take up selling insurance?  Or wouldn't they go into banking, accounting or advertising?

As to whether any definition could meaningfully exist, why not start with a reasonably sophisticated definition, and move on from there?  The original source of the following attempt at definition, is:

Clifton, Thomas. 1983. Music as Heard: A Study in Applied Phenomenology. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 

Here are some quotes: Music is "an ordered arrangement of sounds and silences whose meaning is presentative rather than denotative. ... This definition distinguishes music, as an end in itself, from compositional technique, and from sounds as purely physical objects."  ...  "music is the actualization of the possibility of any sound whatever to present to some human being a meaning which he experiences with his body—that is to say, with his mind, his feelings, his senses, his will, and his metabolism"  ....   It is therefore "a certain reciprocal relation established between a person, his behavior, and a sounding object..."

This may seem like an odd set of statements, but I think it provides a number of good basic assertions, worthy of consideration.  It's probably easy enough, in this thread, with a plethora of good and relevant statements made by several people, to focus mainly on the actual question asked.  It's simple to focus on the query "what is music," and easy to ignore personal attacks on the thread originator. 

 

I think thats a lot of good info Serenity, and has a lot in common with what I would offer as a possible way to define music:

"Any sound and/or silence, whether remembered or actually perceived/experienced, that an individual designates as such".

Admittedly very broad, but hopefully might lead to and continue the worthwhile part of this discussion:)

Thanks Bob

Serenity Laine said:

As to whether any definition could meaningfully exist, why not start with a reasonably sophisticated definition, and move on from there?  The original source of the following attempt at definition, is:

Clifton, Thomas. 1983. Music as Heard: A Study in Applied Phenomenology. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 

Here are some quotes: Music is "an ordered arrangement of sounds and silences whose meaning is presentative rather than denotative. ... This definition distinguishes music, as an end in itself, from compositional technique, and from sounds as purely physical objects."  ...  "music is the actualization of the possibility of any sound whatever to present to some human being a meaning which he experiences with his body—that is to say, with his mind, his feelings, his senses, his will, and his metabolism"  ....   It is therefore "a certain reciprocal relation established between a person, his behavior, and a sounding object..."

This may seem like an odd set of statements, but I think it provides a number of good basic assertions, worthy of consideration.  It's probably easy enough, in this thread, with a plethora of good and relevant statements made by several people, to focus mainly on the actual question asked.  It's simple to focus on the query "what is music," and easy to ignore personal attacks on the thread originator. 

 

I feel this is very true, and needed saying, with one small correction, IMHO..

+1

Thanks Bob

https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

roger stancill said:

Gregorio, Ingo and Mike, What started out as a developing civil discussion

has once again been hi-jacked by egotistical assholes. We were actually

getting somewhere and developing a friendly, constructive dialogue.

Apparently those who believe there is no point in this discussion want to

stomp it down and ruin it for those of us that do want to pursue it.

I wonder if they even took the time to read the original post, much less

address it.

 

My my says the 'sly guy', the shrewd dude strikes again, with his rapier wit

and cutting remarks.

It's somewhat ironic, and he probabably doesn't even realize it, but

he has actually made a contribution to the discussion.

He is demonstrating the noise side of the equation as compared to

the harmonic or musical side of the discussion. Well done.

It took me a second to figure this out, but wow man, you are subtle.

ps- hey Dave, I'm glad you have found an identity      RS

For those of you interested in the real discussion-

The answer I come up with is, 'we can't define music', but we do define music.

If we did define what  music is or should be, then we would all have to aspire to that

ideal and definition. This would condemn the art to the dictates of dogma.

The free market styled idea, that what we write and create defines what music is and

'can be' seems more appropriate.

This still does not answer the question , what qualifies and separates music from noise though.

I wonder if anyone here grasps the beauty and depth of the noise the ' bugs of the night' provide.

The thought has probably never crossed your mind.

It is a symphony of creation that is more subliminal than most will ever grasp and/or appreciate.

Now, you must think I'm just crazy..  is he suggesting that everything in Nature has a purpose

and that there is an intelligence behind the design? What possible purpose could this 'bug noise' serve?

It's all about frequencies and balance.... and more.

This is part of the reason that I question the direction of music.

If you understand that 'plastic' is not an organic compound, created by nature, and yet mankind

can and has created plastic, then you will start to see what I mean by 'what is music, and what is noise'.

If you 'get' where I'm coming from, I'd love to hear/read your thoughts. To be clear, once again, YOUR

THOUGHTS... not quotes from somone else.     Peace, RS

Hey there FZ,  I think at my age, I have a pretty solid idea of what I consider to be

music and what it means to me. I am pretty sure you do too. Of course it's subjective.

I don't believe that there really is an objective definition ;especially one that all will agree to,

or one that could or should be established.

I'm a hobbyist, I write what I write simple for fun. I assume you are a seasoned professional.

And yet I still believe, we can share ideas and learn from each other. Isn't that an aspect of what this

forum is all about?

What we attempt to write/compose has to be the more definitive gauge of what we think

music is, or what will be accepted as music.(fringe element aside) 

This is an interesting question. I've had to ponder the question myself in my last composition that I just finished. Especially as a type of impressionist; I make music that sounds like "noise" such as bells and weather. For instance one way is to use dissonance techniques that create a "rumbly" sound that is more noisy than musical. 

But even then I see my dissonant piano parts as being music. They don't sound musical. But they are still music! 

"I wonder if anyone here grasps the beauty and depth of the noise the ' bugs of the night' provide.

The thought has probably never crossed your mind.

It is a symphony of creation that is more subliminal than most will ever grasp and/or appreciate.

Now, you must think I'm just crazy..  is he suggesting that everything in Nature has a purpose

and that there is an intelligence behind the design?"

I walk often walk out into the forest in the morning, and hear many different birds of different species.  When they all "sing" different songs, some replying to one another, and I hear them from many different angles, some far above me, and some lower down, I hear a kind of "natural symphony."  It isn't "art," of course.  But it leads me to reflect on the fact that what is beautiful is not the sound of one bird singing, or even two or three.  There is something in the experience of that totality, of many birds singing at once, and hearing their cries from so many directions, that makes for a sublime totality that can be likened to art, and an inspiration for art. 

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