Best time in history to be a classical music listener

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Hello janeeliotgardiner

Hello janeeliotgardiner

 

Roger Scruton in a number of his books on aesthetics   has argued that there must be objective standards for art (of which one assumes Classical music and Opera must be part of). Art is not subjective, according to Scruton as there are objective principles by which we can measure it by. One of these key qualities is "Beauty"

Amfortas wrote:

Amfortas wrote:

Hello janeeliotgardiner

 

Roger Scruton in a number of his books on aesthetics   has argued that there must be objective standards for art (of which one assumes Classical music and Opera must be part of). Art is not subjective, according to Scruton as there are objective principles by which we can measure it by. One of these key qualities is "Beauty"

Yes, I am familiar with Scruton's articles/books etc. I am not sure I am convinced by much of it: rather too much dependence on Kantian assumptions for my liking. Also, too much polemic overall. He does not seem to understand or want to understand the case on the other side. But I do find I am sympathetic to his outlook and would broadly agree with his critique of modern art etc

tjh212 wrote:

tjh212 wrote:

Yes, jane, one can certainly say that there is a developed taste.

Well you're halfway there, tjh. Are the judgements of a developed taste superior to that of an undeveloped one? Are they worth more? 

I would certainly argue so in wine tasting.........I would take a seasoned expert's view of a particular wine over that of a five year old child drinking their first glass.

Value & taste.

We have been there before, tjh, haven't we? I believed we have agreed that taste (what we like) does not tantamount to value. There are rules that define how and when a work of music is a good one. A piece of music normally is good in following certain rules very effectively, but not often all the rules and aspects of music together. In this way, someone who loves orchestration might find any orchestral work by Ravel to his/her liking, while these works are of the greatest value as for the aspect of orchestration and regardles of who and how many like them.

If I do not like a whole form of composition, like the Fugue for example, I won't like a great deal of Bach's music. However, it does not mean that I cannot find out that Bach was a master of this form and by listening more thoroughly and learning more about his art, I cannot find out that Bach's Fugues are of the greatest value, whether I will ever like them or not. Some might not like the early Baroque but this fact cannot make Monteverdi a lesser master of his era.

It is a bliss that we have the prerogative to choose what we may like and to know what we can appreciate. Sometimes, we might be that blessed to find out that we might like what we appreciate too (this might lead to Jane's "developed taste", although, for all the taste I have developed in years and years of attentive listening and research, still I can recognise that Bruckner was one of the greatest Symphonist, but I can hardly listen to most of his movements of his Symphonies, the scherzi exempted).

Parla

Taste & Value

To speak about the quality of a judgment, I think one needs to evaluate the criteria used to arrive at that judgment.

To assert that a work must have a universally accepted value, I believe it should be derived from non-partial, non-subjective analyses.
However, the objective issues in music are not definitive in terms of value; two works can both satisfy an objective criterion yet have different values. Even if there was, the question again is, why is it good?

Even among experts, aesthetic judgment can diverge, and evolve. It is by nature biased.

I agree, parla, that popularity should not affect the evaluation process.

We've been through this

We've been through this before. It is no easier to stand on your side of the debate than it is on mine. It is a philosophical puzzle. It looks easy to deny the objectivity of values and simply assert the brute fact of taste, but it isn't. It leaves several gaping holes in your position. 

Your demand that universally accepted values be derived from non-subjective analyses is hard to meet, but that is not the end of the story for people like me. Many contemporary philosophical accounts of value now seek to make use of subjective responses via the concept of "taste" - according to which "taste" is a kind of faculty which permits one to discern objective properties in the fabric of reality. So the focus is less on the features of the work itself (compositional structures etc), and more on the values which are embodied in it and which are actually discernible: though only through the medium of taste!

In other words, you appear to be demanding something that your opponents are no longer interest in finding.

Disagreement among experts, incidentally, is not evidence that there are no facts in play! (Think of scientific disputes........) At the same time, it is easy to overstate the level of disagreement among experts. How many experts in music would deny the fact that Beethoven's 5th is a masterpiece? That is a pretty overwhelming consensus. Indeeed, there is a remarkable consensus in the aesthetic judgements of acknowledged experts in almost every field of artistic endeavour. I can explain this agreement by using the concept of "taste" outlined above. The experts, through developing and refining their taste, all agree because they are perceiving something that is actually there: a real value in the work itself. 

I look forward to your response.......

parla wrote:

There are rules that define how and when a work of music is a good one.

Do let us know what these rules are Parla. You've mentioned this many times, to let's see what they look like,

Obviously, these rules must be free from evaluative words - "good", "effective" etc - otherwise you would be guilty of circularity........

The real value.

With this last phrase of your post, Jane, you accept that there is a "real value" of the work (of music) itself, which is independent and irrelevant as for the "developing and refining taste" of any listener. It is there and whether one can get it through any sort of taste or any other means (appreciation through research and study) is another question.

If we accept that there is a real value, then, this value cannot be subjective (otherwise it cannot be "real") and it is up to each listener how and to what extent he/she can reach it.

The elements of this real value cannot be defined but by specific features that characterise and define the work, predominantly the melody, the harmony, the rhythm, the orchestration and, at the end of the day, the...form. Some works might be great because they excell in one or two of these features, some blessed ones in all of them. It is at the discretional power of the listener to try to identify, appreciate and, based on his developed/refined/educated taste, to (sometimes manage to) like (enjoy) it as well.

The fact that there is a "pretty overwhelming consensus" about Beethoven's Fifth qualified as a masterpiece is not the result of a convergence of a well-developed taste of some experts but of even a vague recognition of practically any listener that there is something very special, unique as for certain features of the work. I have met a good number of musically well-educated people who cannot afford listening with pleasure the Fifth (they found the orchestration heavy and noisy particularly in the Finale, the melodies almost rough and less refined etc.), but they cannot deny that there is something perfectly fine there. Even if they cannot articulate that the Fifth's form is at such a unique perfected level, where every note, every detail in the score follows one the other in an arrestingly correct sense of order, at least they can be impressed/questioned/intrigued, resulting at least in a latent sense of appreciation.

Parla

I still don't see any of

I still don't see any of these "rules", Parla........It would be nice to have an example so we can see what they look like.

Half fully empty

A physicist does not focus on evaluating the degree which something elicits a subjective response, which imo is what the arts strive for and ultimately where its value is.

With the premise of objectivity in both taste and value, it is dubious to focus less on the features of a work. Do they not have a common objective, and thus, linked?

If the notion that taste is subjective can be accepted, I don't see a firm ground for it to be a vehicle to reach an objective value.

If you can tolerate that expert opinion can change over time, how "factual" is it?

To somewhat echo parla's second paragraph above - It's great that there is consensus on a work, and certainly you can take that into account as part of the due diligence to be informed, but in the end, only yourself can assess what the work means to you (i.e. value)

Form is fine as a general guide. I do not see the possibility of it being sufficiently specific to explain value objectively.

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