Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

So I just recently finished a book entitled Breaking the
Sound Barrier (An Argument for Mainstream Literary Music)
by John
Winsor and there were more then just a few things I disagreed with but
the one thing that stood out the most and just rubbed me the wrong way
was his attempt to define music. He states that having a working
definition is useful to set up a criteria to determine that which is
music and that which is noise. His definition of music is much more
ridged. Winsor defines music as "the use of sound to represent
biological rhythm." He also states that music must communicate to the
listener and allow the listener to "participate vicariously in the act
of composition." He also list a few criteria as to what music should be,
but I will not really go into detail about them however.

When I look for a definition of music, I take the Edgard Varèse approach
by using the simple definition that music is organized sound. I feel
that is the most simple and open definition for me.
However most people I have talked to take the "misty-eyed" romantic
approach to defining music. Usually their definition contains phrases as
"the most expressive art form for the human emotion" or "Divine gift
from the Heavens" and such.

All this attempts to define music, though usually fruitless in any
attempts to sway public opinion on the subject, promoted me to ask the
following questions to my fellow composers on this forum:

What is YOUR working definition for music?

Is a definition of music needed or is it a personal subject?

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Since this is still Humor section, I would like to suggest the following definition.

 

MUSIC IS A MEANS TO COMPENSATE FOR THE LACK OF NATURAL EXPRESSIVENESS, LOST DURING NATURAL DEGRADATION THAT IS ERRONEOUSLY CONSIDERED AS NATURAL EVOLUTION.

 

Indeed, most human inventions compensate for our abilities, lost during our evolution (degradation?) from wild birds, animals and other living beings. Planes compensate for our inability to fly. Forks compensate for our inability to grab food. Writing compensates for our inability to memorise things. TV/Radio compensate for our inability to communicate by ultrasound, radio frequencies, 6th sense etc. Computers compensate for our inability to reason. Now, musical instruments compensate for our inability to sing.

 

You can continue this list ad libitum. E.g., sonata form is a means to compensate for our inability to combine musical themes. Hereby I guarantee that most musicians can expand it considerably, in this way coming to a more and more detailed definition of MUSIC.

 


 

Andrew I think this is an unique viewpoint!

Andrew Gleibman said:

Since this is still Humor section, I would like to suggest the following definition.

 

MUSIC IS A MEANS TO COMPENSATE FOR THE LACK OF NATURAL EXPRESSIVENESS, LOST DURING NATURAL DEGRADATION THAT IS ERRONEOUSLY CONSIDERED AS NATURAL EVOLUTION.

 

Indeed, most human inventions compensate for our abilities, lost during our evolution (degradation?) from wild birds, animals and other living beings. Planes compensate for our inability to fly. Forks compensate for our inability to grab food. Writing compensates for our inability to memorise things. TV/Radio compensate for our inability to communicate by ultrasound, radio frequencies, 6th sense etc. Computers compensate for our inability to reason. Now, musical instruments compensate for our inability to sing.

 

You can continue this list ad libitum. E.g., sonata form is a means to compensate for our inability to combine musical themes. Hereby I guarantee that most musicians can expand it considerably, in this way coming to a more and more detailed definition of MUSIC.

 

 



In "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", Douglas Adams wrote:
The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.

Ray,

I found a workaround. Let us reformulate this formula as follows: "Don't do music? Let's sing about it instead."

and place the results in "Music Dissection" discusion board.                              :-)

Ray Kemp said:

Andrew,

Where should we put it? We don't have a discussion board called "Don't do music? Let's talk about it instead." :-)

Andrew Gleibman said:

Since this is still Humor section, I would like to suggest the following definition.

 

 

Jesus!

 

I think music could be defined as something audible that is not limited/restricted to
'sound'
That's right Ray and that is so because it is not personal.
Ray Kemp said:

Jon,

With this statement you are pointing out how ridiculous any individual's definition can be.

Thanks

Jon Corelis said:

Music is what you can hum.
Music is what you can dance to.

Music is what you can sing on the toilet, as Zhdanov (Soviet Union Minister of the Arts during Stalin's 'reign') used to say when in conflict with Shostakovich, Prokoviev, Khachaturian...etc

Which brings us to the question set by the original poster (Tyler Hughes):

 

     " What is YOUR working definition for music?
       Is a definition of music needed or is it a personal subject?"


Bloody daft question, if you ask me..

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