Many thanks Craig for the reference to Duchamp's urinal. I was in Tate Liverpool a couple of weeks ago and was obviously thrilled to see it or at least what I thought was Duchamp's urinal. I didn't bother to read the descriptive note and am now most disappointed to read that I only saw a replica as the original is lost. This has obviously now spoiled my day out.
Yes, instead of seeing one mass produced urinal, you saw another mass produced urinal. What is the world coming to, I bet you feel cheated. Of course if you pop into the Tate's toilets you can see lots of mass produced urinals. Incidentally I thought I'd used these mass produced urinals a few weeks ago but now realise I was actually in the pub next door. This has obviously also spoiled my day out.
Let me make it easy for you.
Both Beethoven and the Dixie Chicks use sequences of notes, harmonies, dynamics, etc - that is an objective verifiable fact. But what is the (objective or otherwise) basis for saying that in the former case, the result is ‘a perfect specimen of what music is all about’ whilst in the latter what you get is ‘only the "leftovers" of what can be called music’.
It strikes me that you are saying absolutely nothing beyond you prefer Beethoven to the Dixie Chicks.
It's the old quote about 'If an infinate number of monkeys sat at an infinate number of typewriters, then eventually the complete works of Shakespeare would be written'. This is of course true. Objectively, Hamlet and the rest are just a series of letters and spaces one after the other. BUT to suggest that while these monkeys are typing away, that the incomprehensible rubbish they produce inbetween producing the works of Shakespeare has objectively in an artistic sense the same value is complete nonsense.
Are you seriously suggesting that 'To be or not to be, that is the question' has the same artistic value as 't3jmcn h&*i mi£^ %"nh'.
it's not just a question of preference. The idea of what is quality may vary a little from time to time but it doesn't vary that much.
Incidentally, if an infinate number of monkeys sat at a infinate number of pianos would you eventually get the works of Joyce Hatto.
Parla “…aspects of a work are "objective", namely incontestable, then its "artistic qualities" cannot be subject to our limitations, caprices, current mood and so many "changing" factors.”
Though I understand and respect your position that music has an objective meaning that comes from composer and if we as listeners perceive something else then we’re wrong, I can’t help but disagree. A sequence of words has an objective meaning but, to me, a sequence of sounds just seems too elusive to have an objective meaning. Even Stravinsky himself said that it was not the music’s job to “express” anything other than music itself. He quotes “Composers combine notes. That’s all.” So if I listen to ‘The Right of Spring’ and I perceive anything at all, I’m wrong because there was no objective meaning to the music given by the composer to begin with. This is why I feel that, despite even the composer’s intensions; the only aesthetic qualities there are in music are those perceived by the listener.
However, if I’m wrong and music does indeed have objective meaning, then I will at least concede to this quote by Aldous Huxley “Music ‘says’ things about the world, but in specifically musical terms. Any attempt to reproduce these musical statements ‘in our own words’ is necessarily doomed to failure. We cannot isolate the truth contained in a piece of music; for it is a beauty-truth. The best we can do is to indicate in the most general terms the nature of the musical beauty-truth under consideration and to refer curious truth-seekers to the original.”
Fw, I don't know how difficult my posts may be, but you never get me right.
I never spoke about "objective meaning" of Music, but rather about "objective artistic qualities". That means, if we have a Fugue of Bach and one of Kerll, we can recognize the greatness and perfection of the genre in the former compared to the average construction of the latter, because there are "objective" criteria, rules and forms of how a Fugue is written, works and functions musically. So, objectively, Bach's Fugues are the greatest we can find in music history (along with few others, like Beethoven's Grosse Fugue). The same for the Symphony, the Sonata, the Concerto as well as between genres. For example, a song, that uses a tonality -without or with one modulation- in a very simple form (ABA, two themes with the first repeated) compared to a choral fugue or a choral sonata form work, is inferior, in musical terms, no matter how pleasant or likeable the former may be.
So, the question is not to identify the meaning of the "Rite of Spring", but its position in Music, as a musical achievement of a certain level. This can be done, in an objective way, because, like everything in Life, there is the right and the wrong, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly as well as the harmonious and the dissonant in music composition. That means, yes, composers "combine notes", but that's not exactly all. They have to know and struggle how well this "combination of notes" will work. And this is what we judge. Not the meaning. Beethoven's Symphonies are great Music, because, formally, they are perfect music-making, regardless and beyond their meaning (which is definitely left to the limitations of the listener).
As for the "aesthetic qualities", I'm afraid they are related to the artistic and technical ones, since counterpoint, Harmony, tonality, mode, sonata form, etc. have been invented to achieve the most perfectly beautiful sound. There is no ugly Harmony, or cacophonous counterpoint and so on. If the work in question is a technically (harmonically, etc.) perfect one, it cannot be an "ugly", "badly made" and of no aesthetic value piece of music.
Therefore, what I'm trying to defend here is the right of the composer to be recognised for his artistic (musical) achievement(s), including the aesthetic one(s), not what his work(s) may mean to anyone of us, which is our only prerogative. It's absolutely and entirely up to us to dismiss any great work of music, because we don't "like" (read: comprehend) it, but we don't have the right to degrade it or streamline it at the same level as any other irrelevant form of music.
(A last tip: Dvorak's Concerto for Cello is considered by anyone concerned -cellists, conductors, musicians and listeners alike- as the greatest achievement in the genre. Every cellist has to perform it to prove how accomplished and mature player he/she is. So, regardless of how we like, perceive or conceive it, this concerto is the numero uno in its genre. That's a fact of Music! So, accordingly, you may go ahead...).
Your idea of aesthetic quality in music was different from mine. I tend look beyond the mere craftsmanship and read deeply into the music to see what emotions, thoughts and overall meaning it conveys. Your idea of aesthetic quality is the overall excellence of the music. But with that, I still think it’s a very subjective issue. Earlier, when I mentioned that technical aspects of music are objective, I was speaking in the strictest sense of the term. One can evaluate the scores of 2 different compositions and easily see which shows a greater deal of technique and innovation. Whether or not ether of these scores are “good” or if it “works” seems to be a matter of opinion. I feel that the word “good”, when it is applied to music, is just too vague. What does it mean to be “good”? Does this certain combination of notes have to strike a chord in hearts of many people before it is deemed “good”? I mean who's to say what's "good" and what isn't?
This is why I don’t agree with canons. I could name some incredible modern compositions that work for me, that show a great deal of sophistication (even more than some of the most popular music), but remain outside of the classical repertoire simply because they don’t “work” for most other people.
Fw, I think you may get it sometime soon and we may come closer...
What you call "mere craftsmanship" is the equivalent of the poetic language of Shakespeare. Can we call the way he wrote (not the meaning) as mere craftsmanship. I trust it is much more than that. It is the command of the language, which helps and leads to the great (or not) meanings he may wish to convey. A bad, not poetic (in the sense of commanding the language) text wouldn't even serve, at least in the same effective way, the meaning of his plays.
So, it's not exactly the "overall excellence" of the music, but rather the overall brilliance (which means not only the technical means but also the great outcome of their use) that counts. If we had to count only on the technical aspects, I guess composers like Paganini or Liszt would be on the top of the list. However, Haydn or Mozart use the means in such a way so that the final product can show much more and mostly how they command the language (and not only the technic) of music.
By all means, the emotions, thoughts and overall meaning are entirely subjective. They depend on your "limitations" and abilities. However, we cannot evaluate a work on our personal limitations only. It has no validity outside us. We have to acknowledge where each composer and each work lies. It's up to us whether we wish or can attain them. And there is nothing wrong if we choose something "else" that does not "work" or it is outside the "norm", as long as we always know where we as well as Music stand.
The "good" in music is inextricably linked with the beauty of Harmony, Counterpoint, polyphony etc. A work full of Harmony cannot be but beautiful and good music, even if the emotions, thoughts and overall meaning caused to us might be irrelevant or indifferent. Accordingly, the word "bad" is linked with cacophony, dissonances, etc. which, however, may "work" with our emotions, thoughts, etc.
I hope we may be closer now.
You miss one 'o' out of the title and look at the fuss it causes.
Much as I had anticipated, when asked a direct question, you simply come up more self-serving claptrap - this is a simply ludicrous argument. And I understand precisely what you’re saying.
You say that there are a number of elements of composition which can be found almost exclusively in classical music – fugues, canons, etc. – and the greatest composers make extensive use of those elements. No-one would argue that this isn’t a matter of objective fact. But then you shift from purely descriptive criteria to evaluative ones – ie: music which has complex fugues, etc., is superior in quality to music which doesn’t. And that is palpable nonsense.
It’s true that classical music is often more technically and structurally complex than other genres, but to say that it is superior to other forms is a total non sequitur. It’s rather like saying that snooker is an objectively superior sport than golf because it uses more balls. Sort of never mind the quality, feel the width.
Likewise, classical music has a score whilst others tend not to do so – notably rock, folk and jazz. But where is the basis for saying the absence of a score is a mark of inferiority? Or a lack of a key change?
Like I said before, all you’re saying is that you prefer Beethoven to the Dixie Chicks. And even you can’t believe this nonsense you spout to try and dress this value judgement up as a intellectual tenable argument.
So, dear Craig, if all my arguments are either "palpable nonsense" or not an "intellectual tenable" argument, then, let's change positions.
Now, I challenge you to answer my questions:
Why and on which objective basis it's a "palpable nonsense" that a developed musical score (with complex fugues, sonata form, modulations, etc.) is of equal musical importance and greatness as a song of four or five notes, repeated over and over again?
If classical music is more "complex" "technically and structurally" (which directly implies it requires greater effort, knowledge of the matter, thorough study and more), in which objective way is it not superior, in musical terms, to other forms that simply make use of the basic "alphabet"? Is a news article in the newspaper of the same value as a play by Shakespeare?
Finally, can you prove, with objective criteria, why I prefer Beethoven to the Dixie Chicks, while I have stated several times, very clearly, that, regardless I "prefer" (or not) Beethoven, I recognise, appreciate and feel compelled to honour his Music?
So, now it's your turn, Craig, for some tenable (not necessarily intellectual) arguments.
Classical Music is not better than other forms of music because it is technically or structurally more complex. It is better than other forms of music because it is intellectually and emotionally of better quality (This may mean it is technically and structually more complex, but that is a by product, cause and effect). Beethoven is the high priest of musical quality.
You have stated (in effect) that complex music is simply better than less complex music - although you haven’t given any indication why this should be the case. Busoni’s music is a lot more complex than Haydn’s – does that mean he’s the greater composer?
You’re comparing apples and pears. A newspaper article of infinitely greater value than Shakespeare if you want to know whether or the Euro is about to collapse. Just as a garden shed is a far superior construct than Notre Dame cathedral for storing your lawn mower. Different types of music are doing different things – and you can’t use the same criteria to judge them all - which is precisely what you are doing.
I haven’t the foggiest idea why you feel ‘compelled to honour’ Beethoven. How on earth should I? Perhaps you should ask a psychiatrist?
As I expected, Craig, you failed to answer any of my questions as far as the substance is concerned.
In the first one you simply repeat your argument that if I cannot indicate why a more complex music is better than a less complex, that's enough to prove the opposite. Then, you confine yourself to give the example of Busoni and Haydn to support your argument. However, my question was "on which objective basis" you prove your claim. And I didn't get an authoritative reply, since I can claim that your reply is a very subjective, inadequate argument too. (As for the Busoni - Haydn example, be informed that the complexity of the scores of Busoni lie only or mostly on technical matters and not on the whole aspect of a work, where the Form is above all. And Haydn, as most of the Classics, was a Master of the Form in Music par excellence. For Mozart, it is said that he is too easy for the amateurs and extremely difficult for the professionals!).
In the second one, still you avoid the answer (the "objective way is it not superior") by involving a new conditionality (which is absolutely subjective) of the "apples and pears", in other words the different scope or the expediency different music forms play. In this way, you don't answer my question, but you simply avoid it. To bring you back to the substance: I never raised the role and use of any form of Music, but I only refered to the musical importance and greatness of one form against another on the basis of their artistic features. (As for the example of the newspaper and Shakespeare, again the argument was on the artisitc value of these two and not of their use or purpose. In other words, what kind of literature is the newsarticle compared to Shakespeare?).
Finally, in the last one, despite you always claimed that I simply "prefer" Beethoven, now you declare complete incompetence on the matter and you resort even to a "psychiatrist"! How tenable!
In order not to go further in vain, please kindly answer two tiny questions, so that we may see if there is a slight possibility for us to converge...:
-Is there any objective definition of Music? (and are you aware of it).
-Is Music based on some value(s)? (a tip: there is no subjective value, because it's not recognised by others and, therefore, has no validity). If yes, define them.
It's a legacy of the 2nd World War that the British don't like to suggest that something is superior to something else, especially where culture is concerned. 'Classical' music has white european origins and the British mistakenly think that it sounds too much like the man with the funny moustache to even think that you can make qualitative judgements on such things. Bless them.
The problem is that the man with the funny moustache often talked in terms of absolutes.