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View Poll Results: Is silence music?

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Thread: Is silence music?

  1. #1
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    Question Is silence music?

    Just wondering what everyone thought about the subject. Is silence really music? Does the definition of music define that it has to have a sound, or is it the interpretation one could take from silence music in itself?

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Silence by itself is not music. Music is a type of sound, and silence is the absence of sound. Sorry fans of John Cage, 4'33 is not music...it's just a stunt.

    Now, there is plenty of music where there are silences. While the silence itself is not music, it can be used to punctuate/emphasize the sound that comes before or after it.

    A great master of "silence" in music is Sibelius. There are parts in his music where playing completely stops and then we hear nothing. Then music starts again. These pauses are dramatic and cause the surrounding music to stand out more markedly.

    So, no, complete silence for the sake of silence is not music. (Where is the rhythm, where are the notes?) But there is plenty of silence in music that can be very musical when used in the context of actual sound.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    The thing about a lot of Cage's music is that the performer has no control over what the audience hears. This is most true with 4'33 which is definitly NOT silence. No reference is made to the concept of silence in the whole of the piece and sometimes the piece can be relatively noisy!

    The first thing I want to make clear is that humans will never experience true silence until they are dead. Cage went into a "silent" chamber at Harvard where no outside noise was audible. However he could hear two distinct frequencies. The first was an extremely high pitched frequency which was Cage's nervous system and the second was a low frequency which was his blood circulation.

    4'33 invites the listener to make what they will of their unstructured and uncontrolable audio experiences. Plus it's good to be quiet for 4 minutes, there are too many notes in classical music!
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Super Moderator jhar26's Avatar
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    If you would turn on the radio station you always listen to and there was silence you wouldn't wonder whether you were listening to music but instead you would wonder why there was NO music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    While the silence itself is not music, it can be used to punctuate/emphasize the sound that comes before or after it.
    If silence can be used to emphasise music, then surely without the silence the music wouldn't sound like it was originally intended, so I am still unsure whether this deems it 'music' in itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Where is the rhythm, where are the notes?
    Music is not necessarily rhythmical, nor does it have to consist of notes as such. The sound of a tree being scraped by a piece of wood is, by definition, music, but this is not rhythmical, and consists of several tones and sound waveforms overlapping each other. You couldn't picket this sound as 'middle C' for example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post
    If you would turn on the radio station you always listen to and there was silence you wouldn't wonder whether you were listening to music but instead you would wonder why there was NO music.
    That isn't really an argument, because it is normal for radio stations to play music that isn't silence, as this is what the majority of people want to listen to. Plus, you would obviously be told if you were about to listen to a piece that consisted of silence! If I turned the radio on to Galaxy FM and heard Buddhist chanting music, I would wonder why that was on, just the same as if there was nothing on at all.

  7. #7
    Andante
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    NO IT IS NOT MUSIC , How can it be?? this is not to say that it is not part of music, a well known saying "the space between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Elgar View Post
    The first thing I want to make clear is that humans will never experience true silence until they are dead.
    I agree 100%, and I think that the word 'silence' doesn't actually have any meaning at all, because it doesn't exist to human ears. I would actually prefer to call it a 'pause' in the context of music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andante View Post
    This is not to say that it is not part of music
    So you just contradicted yourself by saying it wasn't music, but it is part of music?

  10. #10
    Super Moderator jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnold Schoenberg View Post
    That isn't really an argument, because it is normal for radio stations to play music that isn't silence, as this is what the majority of people want to listen to. Plus, you would obviously be told if you were about to listen to a piece that consisted of silence! If I turned the radio on to Galaxy FM and heard Buddhist chanting music, I would wonder why that was on, just the same as if there was nothing on at all.
    Well, if there was Buddhist chanting music I would wonder why it was on, but if there was only silence I would wonder for ten seconds why there was no music and go to another station. But if you and others consider silence music I'm ok with it.

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andante View Post
    NO IT IS NOT MUSIC , How can it be?? this is not to say that it is not part of music, a well known saying "the space between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves"
    Debussy was the guy who said, "music is the spaces between the notes", refering to people's differing interpretations of a single piece of music by "reading between the lines" and this is not relevent to the topic we are discussing!

    If you are saying silence is a part of music, why can't silence be music? Not only are you contradicting yourself but it seems quite closed-minded to me that you are unwilling to accept any concept that may lead to experimentalism. Let's not forget, it was the experimental cavemen who started banging the rocks together to create mankind's Op.1!
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post
    Well, if there was Buddhist chanting music I would wonder why it was on, but if there was only silence I would wonder for ten seconds why there was no music and go to another station. But if you and others consider silence music I'm OK with it.
    I respect your opinion, you are clearly not closed minded in a non musical sense, given that you can respect my opinion. It's the fools that think they are 100% right that I have a problem with.
    Last edited by Arnold Schoenberg; Mar-02-2009 at 02:07. Reason: Grammar

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnold Schoenberg View Post
    If silence can be used to emphasise music, then surely without the silence the music wouldn't sound like it was originally intended, so I am still unsure whether this deems it 'music' in itself.
    No, silence is not music in and of itself, but it is an ELEMENT of music. But silence for its own sake with no accompanying music is just, um, silence. I like the radio example. If you went to your fav classical station and turned it on and nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING was coming out of the speakers, would you really say: Wow, who is the composer? This is a cool piece! -or- would you say...where's the music...I hear NOTHING. Sorry, but listening to dead silence can be nice, but I do not consider this a TRUE musical experience. I think a tru musical experience must entail, first and foremost...music. Music with silences and pauses, yes, but let's have some sound, please.


    Quote Originally Posted by Arnold Schoenberg View Post
    Music is not necessarily rhythmical, nor does it have to consist of notes as such. The sound of a tree being scraped by a piece of wood is, by definition, music, but this is not rhythmical, and consists of several tones and sound waveforms overlapping each other. You couldn't picket this sound as 'middle C' for example.
    All music is arranged to some extent by time. Even if it is the slowest grave imaginable, it has a start, and end, and a duration.

    Scraping of wood in music..perhaps a guiro...again, is an element in music. If it has a context, then it works as music to me. But if just listening to your neighbor plane his warped door qualifies as music, then every sound in the world should be considered music. Even when the neighbor is coughing or dragging the trash to the curb. I, personally, feel I need to draw the line somewhere.

    So, if you like listening to your walls creak and the neighbor lady getting her groove on while the dogs on your block howl at the moon...and it really is beautiful, musical sound to you, then more power to you. I'd rather listen to Bach.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Scraping of wood in music..perhaps a guiro...again, is an element in music. If it has a context, then it works as music to me. But if just listening to your neighbor plane his warped door qualifies as music, then every sound in the world should be considered music.
    Now I think you are attributing your opinion to the term music. The term music should not be biased in any way, it refers to any sound that is produced in any situation. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's not music, that just means it's not music you personally would listen to. Listening to your neighbour plane his warped door is music, and every sound in the world does qualify as music!

  15. #15
    Super Moderator jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnold Schoenberg View Post
    I respect your opinion, you are clearly not closed minded in a non musical sense, given that you can respect my opinion. It's the fools that think they are 100% right that I have a problem with.
    I seldom think that I'm a 100% right my friend. I'm frankly amazed by the contempt that some have for other members and the constantly trying to score points at the expense of others that has been a feature on these boards recently.

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