Banner: The symphonic suite Cantabile

Page 1 of 13 1234511 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 187
Like Tree124Likes

Thread: The Expert Compared with the Enthusiastic Listener

  1. #1
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    5,250

    Default The Expert Compared with the Enthusiastic Listener

    I assume the vast majority of people who post on TC are enthusiastic listeners of classical music. The term expert is not trivial to define, but for the purposes of this thread I will assume something along the lines of the following.

    A person is an expert in a field if:
    1) she has spent a significant amount of time both studying the field and interacting with others who study the field, and
    2) others who have spent a large amount of time studying the field recognize her as having attained a superior level of knowledge and understanding of that field.

    I am decidedly not a classical music expert. For a long time I have wondered why the works I love are almost always considered “great” works by experts. I think that is true of many/most listeners. While I can imagine reasons why that might be so, I believe it is far from obvious why it should be so. Some works I love such as Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto or Schubert’s Piano Quintet are, apparently not especially well composed; nevertheless, they are considered “great”. I have always believed this relationship is much less true in popular music.

    Why should so much classical music loved by enthusiastic listeners also be considered “great” by music experts?

    There are reasons to develop lists of great works and composers (if only for music history classes). While I think such lists ought to be created by experts, do you think it would matter if they were created by large groups of enthusiastic listeners?
    science and Vesteralen like this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    985

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    While I think such lists ought to be created by experts, do you think it would matter if they were created by large groups of enthusiastic listeners?
    If it was pretty damn close to unanimity, then it wouldn't matter. And besides, isn't all art subjective?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Kevin Pearson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Denton, TX
    Posts
    1,127

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Toddlertoddy View Post
    If it was pretty damn close to unanimity, then it wouldn't matter. And besides, isn't all art subjective?
    Classical music is not just a "subjective" art form. It starts out "objective" because the composer has to use objective standards that would be known by all who know music. That is notes have to be written down to convey what is in the composer's mind. Those notes can be studied objectively and analysed and formalized. Those notes have to be played as written. An F minor chord has to be played as an F minor. It cannot be a C minor or anything else. A quarter note is not played as a half note etc. etc. So music as art is NOT always subjective in fact just the opposite. The subjective cannot come before the objective. Now obviously arguments about tempo etc. can cause a piece to be performed slightly different than another performance but that is a matter of "interpretation". Once the objective notes have been understood, analysed and formalized into a performance then the subjective element comes into play. It cannot come before. We the listeners partake in the subjective side and allow the music to move us but we can also participate in the objective side by reading the score as the music is performed and following along. In any case I hate it when people say music or art is subjective. It is subjective but only in submission to what is objective first. The exception I would make would be improvisation as that is dependent on the subjective state of the artist.

    Kevin

  4. #4
    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Hollywood U.S.A.
    Posts
    3,951
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Improvisation doesn't always require subjectivity. When you hear a modern jazz group improvise, there is a lot of give and take and agreement on structure. That isn't particularly subjective.

  5. #5
    Senior Member stomanek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    735

    Default

    Who said Tchaik's VC and Schubert's piano quintet are not well composed?
    moody likes this.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Crudblud's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    2,546
    Blog Entries
    13

    Default

    It was me. These musicologist bozos get all their hot material from me.

  7. #7
    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    Posts
    750

    Default

    "Expert" is a tricky notion to pin down. I would personally define it as:

    -Having extensive knowledge of facts in a given subject
    -Having UNDERSTANDING of a given subject (esp. important for music)
    -Having experience in a given subject (i.e. listening to works, not merely absorbing facts about them)
    -Garnering this knowledge/experience through a systematic/academic approach.

    Being accepted by existing experts or having interaction with them may or may not be relevant. Most people are not experts in classical music per se, but in a specific composer to such a degree that they could write a book on the information they know. I would also say that the criteria for expertise should be knowledge and understanding, not acceptance into any informal club of acknowledged experts. These acknowledged experts are only deemed as such because they have written on a given subject and are percieved as being knowledgable by the general public that have relatively little knowledge. One can become an expert in total isolation, but the only way of testing it or being formally recognised as such is to provide proof to the outside world.

    An enthusiast, by comparison, lacks one or more of the above. They might still be very knowledgable and seem like an expert to anyone outside of the field, but are not deemed such by those within the field. I think that, depending on approach, an enthusiast will nonetheless be likely to become an expert over time, especially in more specific areas.

  8. #8
    Senior Member stomanek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    735

    Default

    I would say an expert is someone whose profession is music - someone who has at least a BA in music and has a deep understanding of every aspect of musical theory. There is more to it of course but I think that would be the starting point for a definition.

    Someone who does not understand, for example - the complex subject of harmony - but at the same time has a massive knowledge of repertoire and the history of music - is not an expert - but rather an enthusiast.
    Last edited by stomanek; Aug-15-2012 at 12:13.
    superhorn likes this.

  9. #9
    Senior Member science's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Seoul
    Posts
    9,250
    Blog Entries
    48

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Pearson View Post
    Classical music is not just a "subjective" art form. It starts out "objective" because the composer has to use objective standards that would be known by all who know music. That is notes have to be written down to convey what is in the composer's mind. Those notes can be studied objectively and analysed and formalized. Those notes have to be played as written. An F minor chord has to be played as an F minor. It cannot be a C minor or anything else. A quarter note is not played as a half note etc. etc. So music as art is NOT always subjective in fact just the opposite. The subjective cannot come before the objective. Now obviously arguments about tempo etc. can cause a piece to be performed slightly different than another performance but that is a matter of "interpretation". Once the objective notes have been understood, analysed and formalized into a performance then the subjective element comes into play. It cannot come before. We the listeners partake in the subjective side and allow the music to move us but we can also participate in the objective side by reading the score as the music is performed and following along. In any case I hate it when people say music or art is subjective. It is subjective but only in submission to what is objective first. The exception I would make would be improvisation as that is dependent on the subjective state of the artist.

    Kevin
    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    Improvisation doesn't always require subjectivity. When you hear a modern jazz group improvise, there is a lot of give and take and agreement on structure. That isn't particularly subjective.
    I don't recognize the ideas of "objective" and "subjective" in these posts. Perhaps it's just a misunderstanding.

    I really don't think anyone who says something like "musical taste is subjective" would necessarily insist that it has anything to do with whether an F minor chord is the same as a C minor chord. That, I think anyone would acknowledge, is obviously objective (given the basic principles of western music).

    What is subjective is (for example) whether the F minor chord sounds good in some particular context.

    This goes for everything. I like ketchup on scrambled eggs. I can't say it's objectively good or bad - there must be sentient beings who would prefer scrambled eggs without ketchup, or ketchup without scrambled eggs. So that part is subjective. But under ordinary conditions we can probably all agree about whether a particular red sauce is ketchup or not. So that is objective.

    In more realistic terms of musical analysis, it is an objective fact that Schubert's Trout Quintet opens in A and modulates to F a few bars later. No alien creature who understands the basic principles of western music could possibly deny that the thing modulates from A to F. So that is objective.

    But whether that modulation sounds good or not is purely subjective - even if we all agree that it is good. The fact that some alien creature might find it aurally repulsive means that it is subjective.

    When people say that art is subjective, they probably don't mean that red=green or that F minor = A minor. I've never heard of anyone arguing that, though some French or Italian post-modern philosopher might have done so. Everyone will agree that the background of the upper part of the label of the Campbell's soup can is red. That is an objective fact based on its pigments' interaction with photons - even a colorblind alien species able to understand our definition of "red" would agree with that.

    What is ordinarily meant by "art is subjective" is not about that kind of thing, but about whether we enjoy the work of art. Not everyone will agree that a reproduction of the Campbell's soup can is good art.
    Last edited by science; Aug-15-2012 at 12:47.
    pjang23, BPS, Vesteralen and 3 others like this.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ramako's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oxford, UK
    Posts
    1,697

    Default

    I sense an objective vs. subjective argument on its way
    Sonata likes this.

  11. #11
    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    Posts
    750

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by stomanek View Post
    I would say an expert is someone whose profession is music - someone who has at least a BA in music and has a deep understanding of every aspect of musical theory. There is more to it of course but I think that would be the starting point for a definition.
    I don't believe that it takes that much study to understand musical theory - its only a matter of deciphering the coded terms and learning to read music. I studied engineering at university level and find that what I know of harmonic theory is very logical and mathematical. This is not challenging to students of sciences, but what is challenging is being able to read a score and recognise those same patterns in musical notation or, even more difficult, to do so by ear. Music notation is a very messy language in that regard, but this ability is also not pertinent to the understanding of harmony, IMO. Another difficulty I find when reading about more modern works is the increasingly technical terms used to describe it. I have browsed academic papers on music and they are quite similar to papers on engineering that I have also read. Taking the time out to learn the terminology is a relatively minor task, however, when compared to becoming familiar with the thousands of works that constitute 'the repertoire' or the hundreds of composers and their relative significance over the history of music. The former is rather less 'fun', however.

    Professional musicians have an instinctive feel for music through performance. A BA in music isn't a vey good indication, IMHO, since there are literally thousands of music graduates in the UK every year and there are not thousands of experts in (classical) music. Many of those graduates also don't have a deep knowledge of repertoire, never mnd listening experience of that repertoire, and prob won't ever attain it. I agree that it is a start, since it is a provides a level of understanding that anyone claiming to be an expert should possess. Ouside of the world of classical music, there are probably lots more 'experts' who are musicians and don't have any qualifications.
    moody likes this.

  12. #12
    Senior Member stomanek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    735

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by crmoorhead View Post
    I don't believe that it takes that much study to understand musical theory - its only a matter of deciphering the coded terms and learning to read music. I studied engineering at university level and find that what I know of harmonic theory is very logical and mathematical. This is not challenging to students of sciences, but what is challenging is being able to read a score and recognise those same patterns in musical notation or, even more difficult, to do so by ear. Music notation is a very messy language in that regard, but this ability is also not pertinent to the understanding of harmony, IMO. Another difficulty I find when reading about more modern works is the increasingly technical terms used to describe it. I have browsed academic papers on music and they are quite similar to papers on engineering that I have also read. Taking the time out to learn the terminology is a relatively minor task, however, when compared to becoming familiar with the thousands of works that constitute 'the repertoire' or the hundreds of composers and their relative significance over the history of music. The former is rather less 'fun', however.

    Professional musicians have an instinctive feel for music through performance. A BA in music isn't a vey good indication, IMHO, since there are literally thousands of music graduates in the UK every year and there are not thousands of experts in (classical) music. Many of those graduates also don't have a deep knowledge of repertoire, never mnd listening experience of that repertoire, and prob won't ever attain it. I agree that it is a start, since it is a provides a level of understanding that anyone claiming to be an expert should possess. Ouside of the world of classical music, there are probably lots more 'experts' who are musicians and don't have any qualifications.
    It depends - I know a bit of what I am talking about because my son is an aspiring young musician/composer - he has advanced theory lessons and I see what he is given to do - harmonise a Bach Chorale, for example, or complex transposition tasks -which you would only be able to do well if you had gone through the many stages it takes to understand the science of harmony and I don't believe having an instinct through many years of playing professionally makes you an expert in theory if you have not actually studied it academically. Of course if your BA is purely performance you would not be able to do it either and I was thinking of those students who major on composition. There's a world of difference between that and being a keen amateur with no training who has learned to read scores.
    crmoorhead likes this.

  13. #13
    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    London
    Posts
    2,935
    Blog Entries
    4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by science View Post
    In more realistic terms of musical analysis, it is an objective fact that Schubert's Trout Quintet opens in A and modulates to F a few bars later. No alien creature who understands the basic principles of western music could possibly deny that the thing modulates from A to F. So that is objective.
    Hmm Im not even so sure about that.

    It is almost 100% agreed that the A to F modulation occurs there but doesnt necessarily mean it is an objective thing. The basic principles which have led to that analysis are by no means objective or analyses would reach the same conclusions 100% of the time, but we have many examples where they do not.

    To take a very well known example, the Tristan chord:
    TristanChord3.jpg
    Although at the same time enharmonically sounding like the half-diminished chord F-A-C-E, it can also be interpreted as the suspended altered subdominant II: B-D-F-G (the G being the suspension in the key of A minor).


    According to J. Chailley (1963, p. 40[4]), "it is rooted in a simple dominant chord of A minor [C major], which includes two appoggiaturas resolved in the normal way" Thus in this view it is not a chord but an anticipation of the dominant chord in measure three.


    Functional analyses include interpreting the chord's root as on:
    • the fourth scale degree (IV) of A minor (D, according to Arend "a modified minor seventh chord" F-B-D-G → F-C-E-A → F-B-D-A = D-F-A, according to Lorenz an augmented sixth chord F-A-D) (Arend, Riemann, D'Indy, Lorenz, Deliège, Gut), based after Riemann on the transcendent principle that there are only three functions, tonic, subdominant, and dominant (I, IV, and V);
    • the second degree (II) of A minor (B) (Piston, Walter 1941, Goldman 1965) (Schoenberg, Arnold, 1954[7]), as a French sixth (F-A-B-D), based on the transcendent principle of closeness on the circle of fifths with IV being farther than II, with G seen as an accented passing tone, or
    • as a secondary dominant (V/V=B, five of five, A=I, V=E), and thus also with a root on B (Ergo 1921, Kurth 1920, Distler 1940), favoring the fifth motion B to E and seeing the chord as a seventh chord with lowered fifth (B-D(D)-F-A).
    • F or B in A: Considering the G as an appoggiatura, the chord can be interpreted as a type of augmented sixth, specifically the French sixth[8] (F A B D# = F B D# (G#-)A).

    D'Indy (1903, p. 117)[9], who analyses the chord as on IV after Riemann's transcendent principle (as phrased by Serge Gut: "the most classic succession in the world: Tonic, Subdominant, Dominant" (1981, p. 150))

    Deliège, independently, sees the G as an appoggiatura to A

    Nonfunctional analyses are based on structure (rather than function), and are characterized as vertical characterizations or linear analyses. Vertical characterizations include interpreting the chord's root as on the
    • seventh degree (VII) (Ward 1970, Sadai 1980), of F minor (E) (Kistler 1879, Jadassohn 1899)

    Linear analyses include that of Noske (1981: 116-17) and Schenker was the first to analyse the motif entirely through melodic concerns.

    William Mitchell, from a Schenkerian perspective, does not see the G as an appoggiatura because the melodic line (oboe: G-A-A-B) ascends to B, making the A a passing note. This ascent by minor third is mirrored by the descending line (cello: F-E-D, English horn: D), a descent by minor third, making the D, like A, an appoggiatura. This makes the chord a diminished seventh (G-B-D-F).


    Serge Gut (1981, p. 150), argues that, "if one focuses essentially on melodic motion, one sees how its dynamic force creates a sense of an appoggiatura each time, that is, at the beginning of each measure, creating a mood both feverish and tense ... thus in the soprano motif, the G and the A are heard as appoggiaturas, as the F and D in the initial motif." The chord is thus a minor chord with added sixth (D-F-A-B) on the fourth degree (IV), though it is engendered by melodic waves.


    Allen Forte, who (1988, p. 328) identifies the chord as an atonal set, 4-27 (half-diminished seventh chord) but then "elect[s] to place that consideration in a secondary, even tertiary position compared to the most dynamic aspect of the opening music, which is clearly the large-scale ascending motion that develops in the upper voice, in its entirety a linear projection of the Tristan Chord transposed to level three, g'-b'-d"-f"."

    Schoenberg (1911, p. 284) describes it as a "wandering chord [vagierender Akkord]... it can come from anywhere

    Nattiez asserts that the context of the Tristan chord is A minor, and that analyses which say the key is E or E are "wrong". He privileges analyses of the chord as on the second degree (II).

    Czech professor K. Mayrberger (1878), who "places the chord on the second degree, and interprets the G as an appoggiatura. But above all, Mayrberger considers the attraction between the E and the real bass F to be paramount, and calls the Tristan chord a Zwitterakkord (a bisexual or androgynous chord), whose F is controlled by the key of A minor, and D by the key of E minor."
    Many many different ways of analysing this small musical phrase are possible.

    Another example is the first two bars of Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande:




    analyzed differently by Leibowitz, Laloy, van Appledorn, and Christ. Leibowitz analyses this succession harmonically as D minor:I-VII-V, ignoring melodic motion, Laloy analyses the succession as D:I-V, seeing the G in the second measure as an ornament, and both van Appledorn and Christ analyses the succession as D:I-VII.
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

  14. #14
    Senior Member Vesteralen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,855
    Blog Entries
    24

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    There are reasons to develop lists of great works and composers (if only for music history classes). While I think such lists ought to be created by experts, do you think it would matter if they were created by large groups of enthusiastic listeners?
    It depends on your feelings about the word "great". If "great" means something that has enormous impact or that leaves a lasting impression, any sizable group of enthusiastic listeners can come up with a list that can be quite valid.

    If "great" has reference, however, to the compositional skills of the composer, say, her mastery of all the tools of her trade, and her ability to add something significant to the already large body of music available to the world, I suppose I would leave that to the "experts".

    I would personally be interested in both types of list, because no one's list dictates anything to me - it either simply satisfies my curiosity (at the least) or gives me some ideas of something else to try (at the most).

    One advantage of being an enthusiastic listener is that your judgment isn't swayed as easily as someone's who is brand new to the field.
    mmsbls and moody like this.

  15. #15
    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    Posts
    750

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by stomanek View Post
    It depends - I know a bit of what I am talking about because my son is an aspiring young musician/composer - he has advanced theory lessons and I see what he is given to do - harmonise a Bach Chorale, for example, or complex transposition tasks -which you would only be able to do well if you had gone through the many stages it takes to understand the science of harmony and I don't believe having an instinct through many years of playing professionally makes you an expert in theory if you have not actually studied it academically. Of course if your BA is purely performance you would not be able to do it either and I was thinking of those students who major on composition. There's a world of difference between that and being a keen amateur with no training who has learned to read scores.
    I have a pretty jaded opinion of higher education, so apologies if I am too cynical about qualifications. I completed a masters degree in engineering, but found the education system vastly underwhelming despite going to one of the better universities for my subject. I believe that I have learned more in other fields through private study than through taught learning, but that isn't the same with everybody, obviously. Several of our modules required writing computer programs to do analysis on large sets of data or compute an answer based on various inputs. I would assume that harmonising a Bach chorale would be something fairly similar - applying rules you are familiar with to obtain a 'solution'. Most people in my course did not find those parts easy because programming is another language. I was quite often the 'go to' guy for these modules because they were obligitory for the course and many found them tedious. I wouldn't, however, count myself as being anywhere near an expert, even though I probably have more knowledge about this than the average engineer. Other elements in composition/transposition would also be the same as producing a design according to specifications in which there are many variables over which the designer has free choice to achieve the same result or that improve aesthetic characteristics of the product - it isn't just a robotic task. Yet there isn't anything complicated involved here for anyone with basic knowledge expected of an undergraduate. BA courses do not require things of students that are outside of what a professional might be expected to do, even though many might never need that knowledge again.

    What I would say is that most degrees have this element to them - material that seems advanced or difficult to most people taking the course, but is really just the first step in specialisation. It is a relevant question to ask whether being an expert in music or engineering requires this knowledge in an advanced degree or whether it is merely advantageous. IMO, it is much more accurate to talk about being an expert in programming or composition and to qualify that further by other tests. We should think about what, in a court of law, mght qualify as an expert witness.

    With regard to being an amateur that can read scores, I would say that being able to read scores is only the first step. I find that my very limited ability to read scores (I'm not a musician) is a significant obstacle in trying to understand more about musical theory by analysis, but not an insurmountable one. In this regard, I am envious of those who play an instrument for having that advantage.
    Last edited by crmoorhead; Aug-15-2012 at 14:47.

Page 1 of 13 1234511 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 11
    Last Post: Aug-30-2012, 20:28
  2. Expert Needed
    By vonschultz in forum Identifying Music
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Aug-05-2012, 00:01
  3. Expert recommendations about 4 recordings
    By james_cole in forum Recorded Music and Publications
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: Sep-04-2010, 23:52
  4. Looking for an expert!
    By jobbe91 in forum Identifying Music
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Jun-21-2010, 19:34
  5. need a classical piano expert
    By itsjustme in forum Identifying Music
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Jun-13-2009, 20:02

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •