#1February 28th, 2006 · 04:43 PM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
Philosophy of Music and Art
Below is in brief several conclusions I have recently been making on the nature and philosophy of music and all art.

My basic idea is that art exists to express an idea. This can be thesis, narrative, conceptual, celebratory, really anything but it has to have some sort of driving idea or point in order to be considered 'good' art. Therefore I come to compare a composition (lyrical or non) with an essay. Singling out a thesis based essay, I say this. A piece of music should contain a thesis (or numerous thesises), often in the form of a theme or motif that may be repeated, and the rest of the music comes to support that idea in the same way that an essay does. Thus, the best piece of music is one in which every note, rhythm, rest, etc. can be justified as being crucial to the existance of the piece's thesis and is therefore important. Note however that this justification won't always be all that good but even to say that a note or chord exists to tie two ideas more smoothly is a valid justification. Therefore I conclude that music and all art must exist in complete economy. The result of such a notion is that a musical piece becomes a work of poetry where one can make conclusions on the notes and harmonies that are present as well as on the ones that are absent.

What I find interesting about art and literature and anything of this nature (which is ironically everything), is that there is a natural flow towards which the art proceeds. In music we call it tonality, in dance or poetry it might be rhythm. This is where I feel music gets both easier and harder. Tonality aids composition in that it allows a composer to write music he can't understand and justify it later. However, tonality means constraint. It binds the composer to the rules of harmony that are deemed acceptable to his listeners (i.e. parallel 5ths, quarter tones, atonal harmony, acceptable disonence, etc.) which can be a serious hinderance to his actual ability to consciously create a clear and valid idea without it getting muddy with passing notes and unnessesary consonences. The hardest part I would conjecture is the inate bias that we all accumulate against atonality and different forms of music that differ from popular harmony, while simultaneously respecting that music does not need to be complicated to be expressive.

In short, I feel that the two major challenges that face the composer are how one goes about turning an idea into music, and having the ability to deconstruct himself and his own biases so that he can use music as an accurate vehicle for his own expression, whereby insuring that he expresses solely his idea and not the restraints of contemporary harmony.
#2June 29th, 2006 · 01:23 AM
9 threads / 4 songs
90 posts
United Kingdom
I think that music simply cannot be used as a vehicle for self expression in quite the same way as other art forms, (I'm talking here about instrumental music as opposed to lyrics and vocals btw).
 I'm having trouble trying to explain this conclusion but here goes
 I think that because music follows certain, precise rules, it is closer to science than it is to art.
 My own experience of writing music is that a good, (by my standards), piece of music always seems to write itself. It kind of expresses itself through me and not vice-versa. I think that the musical pattern already existed in some realm of mathematical probability and was simply waiting to be discovered. I think of music as an audible equation.
 I guess the "expression" lies in the writer being able to choose which of all the possible equations to use, ie which style of music or where to change the tempo, harmony etc... These choices will be based on the experiences and skill of the writer but will still have to follow rules in order to remain "music". 
 Actually, now I come to think of it, all art forms have rules to some degree, maybe not to the same extent as music but the rules are there. Add this to the possiblity that "self" must also be formed in response to the social and genetic etc... rules that create it and maybe "self expression" itself is simply an illusion in the first place!
  huh???. Maybe I shouldn't post whilst off my head on DF118 with a nasty toothache and having had no sleep
#3July 1st, 2006 · 07:29 PM
160 threads / 33 songs
1,964 posts
United States of America
I had to get my lawyer to translate
I thought I was back in college on this one. I quit thinking about this stuff, and just write a song, anyway that I can get a song out and done. Some are good, some are bad, some are real bad. I used to think that I needed to use all this theory to write good music, but I have realized that two chords can work well for a song. Simple works good if it sound good.
By the way, got anymore of those df118 (just kidding)lol.
#4July 2nd, 2006 · 02:28 AM
9 threads / 4 songs
90 posts
United Kingdom
Yeah..half a packet and the tooth got pulled so hopefully won't be usin' em anymore . Crazy medicine!!!
#5July 3rd, 2006 · 08:13 PM
171 threads / 24 songs
2,327 posts
United Kingdom
re: Philosophy of Music and Art
Music is the organisation of sound..............

Thats what it IS

nothing more nothing less

Thats the philosophy I use

I even wrote a song about it


I'd like 2 follow this up when I have a bit more time to be esoteric regarding my route to this conclusion

splash the fish
#6July 25th, 2006 · 06:24 AM
1 threads / 1 songs
65 posts
Serbia and Montenegro
I think that music is used to express some emotion, and when that emotion is strong then the song is good. The lyrics of a song is used to say something, to send some message to other people, and the music just follow it. The instrumental songs dont have lyrics but they can express some feelings with its tunes, like the voice of some singer. Ok, it is complicated but that is my opinion..
#7July 25th, 2006 · 05:43 PM
1 threads
52 posts
United States of America
Music is art
From Wikipedia definition of ART http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art:
By its original and broadest definition, art (from the Latin ars, meaning "skill" or "craft") is the product or process of the effective application of a body of knowledge, most often using a set of skills; this meaning is preserved in such phrases as "liberal arts" and "martial arts". However, in the modern use of the word, which rose to prominence after 1750, “art” is commonly understood to be skill used to produce an aesthetic result (Hatcher, 1999). Britannica Online defines it as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others"

From the Wikipedia definition of music http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music:
Music is a form of expression in the medium of time using the structures of sounds or tones and silence. It is the creation of complex forms in time through construction of patterns and combinations of natural stimuli, principally sound. As a human activity, music may be used for artistic or aesthetic, communicative, entertainment, or ceremonial purposes. The definition of what constitutes music varies according to culture and social context.

Music is generally characterized as a performing art.

I believe that music is an art form, and is expressed as a performing art. Yes, it has pre-defined rules, some are exact, some are arbitrary. Frequencies that make up tonality, rhythmic durations, the physics of producing sounds on an instrument are pretty much exact.

How you combine those frequencies, tonalities, time pulses into a particular song is arbitrary, and up to the artist/composer.

Sure there are "rules" as to how to combine tones etc. to produce a piece of music in a certain genre, say jazz, or country, or folk, or pop. But those are arbitrary, and artists push that envelope and rules all the time, and have since music began.

I believe Music is an art of self expression. How that is perceived by the listener is subjective, and based on their likes, dislikes, and prejudices.

For example, say I give 10 Bandampers a simple set of tonal progressions. Then ask them to create a song/music based on that set of tonal progressions. Instrumentation, rhythms, style, chords, lyrics or not, is up to them.

Chances are good that I will end up with 10 different expressions of music, all different, but with the same common tonal progression.

That is the art. That is the art of self expression. based on exact and not so exact rules.

#8July 31st, 2006 · 03:48 AM
2 threads
28 posts
New Zealand
Peter Kivy, Susan Sontag and Roger Scruton are three good 20th century aestheticians who wrote extensively about music, whom you might enjoy reading if this subject interests you. Of course, the classic thinkers on this matter are Hanslick and Adorno. Much luck with any future studies.
#9August 17th, 2006 · 12:00 AM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
Wow. That's a lot to digest and think about and a lot of good opinions but I'd like to try and steer this discussion a bit differently. What I was suggesting, though maybe not clearly enough, is to compare a musical composition (in this case more specifically non-lyrical simply because lyrics are usually, and I might dare say almost always, more lucid than instrumental music) to a thesis based or narrative essay. Then I guess the question I would like to pose, because I really hope it has an answer, is how does one go about creating thoughts and concrete ideas that can be understood by the listener through music. What does a fifth or an augmented 9th harmony really mean or represent? In the way trumpets may come to represent royalty, what is a flute?

To hopefully begin to answer this question I'll present two stories:

On a trip in Israel after jamming with two bedoins I had my violin out and was sitting with one who played a really bizzare instument that was composed of one string which can be plucked or bowed and sits on top of a few resonating stings to sound like a sitar. I mentioned to the bedoin that his instrument resembled a sitar and asked if the two were related. He told me that a sitar is a sad instrument and is always crying while his (the name of which obviously escapes me) was one that represented happiness.

A man I know who has played piano for 40+ years and is a fantastic musician was discussing the use of 7th, 9th, 13th, etc. chords. He descirbed the added tones as colour. In addition while discussing Debussy with him his only comment was that Debussy was all about colour.

So my question repeated: How does one begin to write music that is to be expressive and understood? How does one achieve lucidity in music without words?
#10August 17th, 2006 · 01:37 AM
118 threads / 55 songs
3,086 posts
What does a fifth or an augmented 9th harmony really mean or represent? In the way trumpets may come to represent royalty, what is a flute?

as for the trumpets: that's culture based association passed on through generations. a flute, in musical pieces, often expresses solitude and innocense. they can set quite happy, almost childish moods aswell as sadness for a lost love, and any number of other things. maybe it has to do with the relatively non-complex shape of the flute's waveform, being the first and ageold representation of the pure sine - and it's a breath instrument ofcourse, which expressions are very close to the physical human.

I believe harmonies may either sound pleasant or unpleasant because of waveform harmonics resonance, or the lack thereof. I do believe a large part of this is culture based association aswell though; listen to japanese traditional music and go figure a few things out. or perhaps you'd like to explore the aborigines of australia and the instruments they use, the music they make.

How do you want to achieve lucidity without words... I believe, by being very clear in your head before you start writing, and when you do, write intuitively. Write to what is close to your heart and soul; if what you do doesn't touch you, the writer, then it will certainly not touch the listener. There have always been 2 sacred rules in (music) writing: 1) Kill Your Darlings - if you get stuck on something, discard it and start over, and 2) KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid! and this counts for any part of the process. The more of a thing you make out of writing a piece, the more of a thing it becomes to the listener to digest, so the less lucid it will become.

my 2 cents.
#11August 17th, 2006 · 06:52 AM
118 threads / 55 songs
3,086 posts
in addition
I'd like to add to that: the key to being succesful in writing the music that you want to write lies not within contemplation, it lies within experimentation; the principle of trial and error. There was a 3rd essential rule of creativity: which is ART is 10% inspiration and 90% transpiration. I believe this could be stressed here...

my 3rd cent
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