Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21

Thread: Value in music

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    0
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Value in music

    Hi everybody,
    I'm kind of experiencing an existential crisis in my taste in music and thought that you who know a great deal about music might answer a couple of questions that I have.

    First of all, let me say that I'm interested in music only from a listeners perspective as of now, so how complicated something is to play is not something that really concerns me, I just care about what reaches my ears.

    There have been a couple of questions that have been bothering me for a while and as I find myself constantly reminded by them I thought it might be a good idea to get educated about this.

    First of all, on what sort of ground can judgments about music be made? Most people—as far as I am aware—only experience music emotionally and thus the value of music is only what it makes them feel (oddly, some emotions that are normally seen as negative emotions can be nice when evoked by music, e.g. sadness). Is there anything more to music than the emotional effect? Remember that I'm looking at this solely from a listeners perspective. If there is nothing more to music, musical value becomes subjective and there is then no way to say that some kinds music are better than others (not that there is anything wrong with that). There was a time when I justified my taste in music by thinking that it was better that other music, but I was quite naive then (I probably still am, as I know next to nothing about music).

    But then, at times I find myself aware of certain patterns that I find to be beautiful. For example when two different melodies appear to chain together and produce something quite different than the melodies apart. Or when melodies are a continually changing whole that almost seem to be drawn to something. If I'm not mistaken here, this phenomena is completely different than the melodies themselves, it is rather something
    like the form of music.

    These sorts of things make me yearn to understand more about music, there is most certainly a manifold of these patters that simply elude me. Would it heighten my enjoyment of music to learn about these things?

    Sometimes I hear how people educated in music lament the poor state of popular music and I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that my taste in music might be crappy, in fact I expect it to be so. My ignorance about the subject seems to demand just that.
    So what kind of music should I look for? What should I learn? As I have no intent to learn to play music myself, is it impossible for me to learn more about the subject? Or is really enjoyment in music purely subjective?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Isle of Arran, Scotland.
    Posts
    284
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    "But then, at times I find myself aware of certain patterns that I find to be beautiful. For example when two different melodies appear to chain together and produce something quite different than the melodies apart. Or when melodies are a continually changing whole that almost seem to be drawn to something. If I'm not mistaken here, this phenomena is completely different than the melodies themselves, it is rather something like the form of music."

    That paragraph resonates with me, Synthetic. It speaks of the mystery of seeing beauty in form. I listen to Baroque lute and chamber music, Renaissance lute and choral music, and Classical guitar music, with something like the point of view that you express here.
    I think that judgements are your own business, and that they will evolve as you listen. I also believe that you can develop a great deal of musicality without playing, and that the desire to discover beauty will put what you describe as your "crappy" tastes in a different perspective. The way that you learn about these things is also your own business, you'll do it your way, and maybe share a little of it here if we're so fortunate.
    Travel well!
    Last edited by Mark Harwood; Feb-22-2009 at 21:14. Reason: Typo
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    2,141
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Synthetic View Post
    Or is really enjoyment in music purely subjective?
    These questions you're asking, albeit specifically aimed at music, are the questions that philosophers have haggled about for two and a half millenia with regard to the nature of all art. The wonderful thing about art is that it really can't be pinned down; trying to pin it down is like trying to catch a bar of soap in the bath. No sooner do we decide ah, yes, so this is the key to excellence in art, than some great artist will pop up with something radically new that pulls the rug out from under all the preconceptions.

    These discussions we have, and the conclusions we reach, about who the great composers are, and which are their finest works, are no more secure than our presuppositions about what great music is. The history of art is littered with discarded, inadequate, aesthetic criteria. (There's a way in which it might be said to resemble the history of science, which is littered with discarded, inadequate theories.)

    When all the talking's done (and perhaps better done sooner than later), what it all comes down to is this performer, playing the music of that composer, to this listener, here and now. The magic either works, or it doesn't. If the magic works, and your two interweaving melodies transport you to a place you could never have travelled to alone, then no matter how many self-proclaimed 'experts' tell you that your musical tastes are crappy, the simple truth is that you know what you know, and they have missed it. Those two intertwined melodies were composed with the profound hope that someone - you - would understand the beauty of their form in the way you are doing. And when that really happens, all the 'opinions', all the talk (to which I probably contribute more than my fair share) are just so much empty hot air.

    If I were you, I'd just follow my nose. If someone is particularly keen to tell you, 'this is wonderful', it's probably worth trying it out to see what you think. There's probably something good to be extracted from it. If someone is particularly keen to tell you 'this is rubbish', then be deeply sceptical of that advice. The odds are that such a would-be advisor knows and understands a lot less than he thinks he does.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ciel_Rouge's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Szczecin, Poland
    Posts
    231
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Hi Synthetic and welcome to the forum.

    Yes, I think learning about music will enhance your experience and I totally agree with Mark Harwood - your taste WILL EVOLVE. While listening to the "daily crap" I was longing for something more varied, deeper emotionally etc. Then I switched to the classical but also to ethnic and jazz. Now when I hear pop being played it just sounds so funny to me, like a "nursery song" or something... What's wrong with pop? Well, there is nothing wrong with it, one just might simply feel it is "dumbed down", "repetitive" or full of "clones" - profit-oriented "products" lacking personality. Still, even pop seeks variery as everyone gets bored by the same pulp played everywhere all the time. This is why it sometimes ventures into new directions incorporating some classical or ethnic elements to make it more varied.

    Still, you do not have to educate yourself about the classical to be able to appreciate it. It simply grabs the listener emotionally in a very direct way just like any other kind of music. But you will be able to appreciate it MORE if you expand your horizons by reading.

    However, while reading books and booklets I regard it as an additional enhancement and not as a key condition for being able to listen. You do not have to learn a foreign language to be moved by a foreign song. Similarly, you do not have to learn about classical to be able to enjoy it. Just follow your "gut feeling" and try discovering new things.

    A couple of classical pieces are constantly being used as backgrounds in advertisements and films and tend to get overplayed so many people think they are the essence of classical. But the classical is far more than this handful of pieces that got more exposure in popular culture. It is simply a vast territory with hundreds of composers and each of them wrote about a thousand "pieces". Therefore you might require some initial assistance to help you find those pieces that you would love that are just there waiting for you. We will be happy to answer any further questions you might have.
    Last edited by Ciel_Rouge; Feb-22-2009 at 23:05.

  5. #5
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Nonesuch Address
    Posts
    836
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Welcome aboard, fair sea adventurer!

    You will find that music that moves you can also be music that stimulates you intellectually. Like for example, Debussy and Ravel. They had a very different approach to classical music, but their sense of drama and the emotional aspect of the music itself is deeply rooted in the music. At a passing listen there's so much that you can miss if you're not paying attention. Whereas someone like Bruckner or Shostakovich are very upfront and dare I say "in-your-face," but I think it's not wise to take something at face value. Each composer reveals something truly unique on their own.

    My advise to you is look for something that appeals to you emotionally, but also stimulates your mind and really makes you think. The best music moves you and leaves a profound influence on you.

    Good luck to you in your listening.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    9,729
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JTech82 View Post
    My advise to you is look for something that appeals to you emotionally, but also stimulates your mind and really makes you think. The best music moves you and leaves a profound influence on you.
    I think this is good advice to anyone who is beginning to get into classical music. This may be obvious, but probably the best way to do this & familiarise yourself with the genres, periods and styles is to listen to a classical radio station regularly. Then you can build up a familiarity with the basic repertoire, and explore further by buying or downloading stuff.

    Anyway, that's my two cents worth!

  7. #7
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Fremantle, WA, Australia
    Posts
    625
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Or is really enjoyment in music purely subjective?
    Yes and no. Music can be explained - it's expressive nature, or our enjoyment of it - scientifically. There are some things science has yet to discover, but it will one day. Why we enjoy music is actually an interesting subject, why we find things expressive can be too. The problem is, if you actually talk about music (in relation the music), it is very dry, laborious and worthless; ultimately, you have to talk about it in subjective terms occasionally otherwise you lose contact with the music.

    Discussion it in relations to the philosophy of music (and aesthetics), however, is pointless if done subjectively and just makes for boring conversation.

  8. #8
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Fremantle, WA, Australia
    Posts
    625
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    You will find that music that moves you can also be music that stimulates you intellectually.
    I don't think the latter will help that much. The only way to have classical music stimulate you intellectually is to already have knowledge of the music in some detail (whether audible or theoretical). Initially I suggest just listening to music that grabs your attention, Beethoven 5, Mozart 40, Tchaikovsky 1812, stuff like that. Once you have some knowledge of the music, then you can grab for intellectual stimuli.

    really makes you think.
    I know it's an overused analogy; music being a language of sorts but: say you were dropped off in... Afghanistan and nobody spoke English, unless you are amazingly prolific at code breaking, thinking will not get you anywhere at learning the knew language. Only once you know the basics of Persian can you learn the language and think about it.

  9. #9
    Andante
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Synthetic View Post
    Hi everybody,


    But then, at times I find myself aware of certain patterns that I find to be beautiful. For example when two different melodies appear to chain together and produce something quite different than the melodies apart. Or when melodies are a continually changing whole that almost seem to be drawn to something. If I'm not mistaken here, this phenomena is completely different than the melodies themselves, it is rather something
    like the form of music.

    These sorts of things make me yearn to understand more about music, there is most certainly a manifold of these patters that simply elude me. Would it heighten my enjoyment of music to learn about these things?
    Yes definitely, what you are discovering is form and structure, it exists in all music in various degrees, Classical composers have developed this continually over the ages it is a very large and complicated subject, just for a start try googling Fugue, cannon, Sonata Form [this is the big one!] this simple start will lead you to many other forms and interesting things.

  10. #10
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Nonesuch Address
    Posts
    836
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Yagan Kiely View Post
    I don't think the latter will help that much. The only way to have classical music stimulate you intellectually is to already have knowledge of the music in some detail (whether audible or theoretical). Initially I suggest just listening to music that grabs your attention, Beethoven 5, Mozart 40, Tchaikovsky 1812, stuff like that. Once you have some knowledge of the music, then you can grab for intellectual stimuli.

    I know it's an overused analogy; music being a language of sorts but: say you were dropped off in... Afghanistan and nobody spoke English, unless you are amazingly prolific at code breaking, thinking will not get you anywhere at learning the knew language. Only once you know the basics of Persian can you learn the language and think about it.
    Whatever you say, Yagan.

    How did I know you wouldn't have some kind of condescending comment to make? (sarcasm)

    I look forward to the next condescending statement, which I'm sure will be followed by my post and everyone else's for that matter. (not sarcasm)

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    9,729
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I think music can stimulate you intellectually and emotionally too, not matter how familiar you are with the style or genre - like what Synthetic mentions as two melodies chained together (sounds like counterpoint). But at the same time, as Yagan implies, you are learning the basics of music, so you are expanding your knowledge. I think good music works on many levels, you can't separate them easily.

    Like the abovementioned Clair de Lune by Debussy, it's a great piece of music in many ways. It sets a mood, paints a picture, has colours, contours, tones. If you like this music, you can either buy the boxed sets of Ravel/Debussy as JTech mentions, or you can simply invest in single discs of Debussy's music. Emi, Decca and Naxos each have fine digital recordings available of his popular orchestral works on one CD. So that might also be an option for you.

  12. #12
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Fremantle, WA, Australia
    Posts
    625
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    How did I know you wouldn't have some kind of condescending comment to make?
    Why don't you go back and actually read what I said. Just because I have (OMG!) a different opinion, doesn't automatically make it condescending. There is nothing condescending about saying that you can't think intellectually about Persian when you know nothing about it what-so-ever. It's an analogy if you haven't worked that out yet. Try not being to defensive without actually reading.

  13. #13
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    43
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    “Synthetic” has asked a couple of simple questions but some responses so far, with the exception of Andante’s, seem rather off the point. One indeed seemed to get involved in pseudo philosophical issues that bear no relationship to the simple questions asked.

    The two questions “Synthetic” has asked are (i) whether one’s appreciation of classical music can be enhanced by possession of a greater understanding of how it’s put together, and (ii) if the answer is "yes" what information should one aim to acquire. Of course, the answer to (i) is “yes”. Education on any subject which one instinctively enjoys is usually better than none.

    - It must surely improve one’s appreciation of classical music to know something about the basic building blocks such as key and tonality, modulation, sonata form, etc. One doesn't need to go overboard on the technicalities, eg as happened here recently on a Beethoven symphonies thread that mercifully has dried up, but a broad understanding of these concepts is very helpful.

    - It must also be of great assistance to be aware of the main genres of music: solo works, duets, chamber works, concertos, symphonies, etc.

    - Knowledge of the main periods in classical music history (baroque, classical, romantic, modern etc) is vital too.

    - It must also be helpful to know who were the really great composers, why they stood out from the crowd, what their main accomplishments were etc. Here, in order to ensure one doesn’t lose sight sight of the wood for the trees, bearing in mind some rather comical opinions made by some on this board, the ten greatest composers are generally considered to be: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Haydn, Schumann, Handel, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner (probably in something like that order starting with the best).

    - Lastly, it is definitely worth having a list of these composers' greatest works, and working towards acquiring them in a cost-efficient manner (eg by avoiding costly sets of symphonies when you may only want one or two).

    Information on these matters is plentiful on the internet. As already noted by "Andante", a good starting point is Wikipedia, and in order to tap in all one has to do is simply start with “classical music” and follow the various links. For a list of composers' greatest works go to, for example, ArkivMusic’s website to see what their most popular works are, as general popularity is as good an indicator of greatness and quality as you will find, again despite much ill-informed comment on this matter that is to be found in some quarters.
    Last edited by Gorm Less; Feb-25-2009 at 11:51.

  14. #14
    Senior Member PostMinimalist's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Athens, Greece
    Posts
    836
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gorm Less View Post
    Of course, the answer to (i) is “yes”. Education on any subject which one instinctively enjoys is usually better than none.
    ...
    One doesn't need to go overboard on the technicalities, eg as happened here recently on
    a Beethoven symphonies thread that mercifully has dried up...
    Just when I thought you had changed your mind! You just couldn't keep it in your pants could you? Oh well...

    As for the Beethoven thread - I will continue as before for those few who might be interested. Don't kill it just because you don't understand it Captain Kirk. (Try the Vulcan mind melt, perhaps)

    The rest of your post is fine but it doesn't really answer the question, 'what makes obviously good music 'good'?'

  15. #15
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    43
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by post-minimalist View Post
    Just when I thought you had changed your mind! You just couldn't keep it in your pants could you? Oh well...

    As for the Beethoven thread - I will continue as before for those few who might be interested. Don't kill it just because you don't understand it Captain Kirk. (Try the Vulcan mind melt, perhaps)

    The rest of your post is fine but it doesn't really answer the question, 'what makes obviously good music 'good'?'
    I stand by my comment that an ordinary listener doesn't need to get too deeply involved in the technicalities of musical structure in order to obtain a reasonably good understanding of it compared with having no information at all. Some understanding is extremely helpful, but rapidly diminishing returns set in after a while from the point of view of a typical listener, which is how "Synthetic" asked us to treat his request for advice.

    I referred to the Beethoven symphonies thread as an example of OTT technical detail in case the new member might mistakenly believe that discussion at that level may be required by a typical listener in order to come to terms fully with something as iconic in the world of classical music as Beethoven's symphonies.

    In any event, I would have thought that there is very little market on this Board for that kind of turgid commentary on the nuts and bolts of the music. I suspect that those who expressed some initial interest were quickly disillusioned. Even on more avowedly professional-level classical music boards, one rarely sees such a high degree of detail being provided. Judging from the very poor involvement of others in that thread, I am surprised you want to continue with it. I hardly perceive a clamour for more of the same, but if you feel there is that's up to you.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Bruckner Symphonies...What am I missing?
    By Keemun in forum Orchestral Music
    Replies: 191
    Last Post: Jul-25-2019, 21:14
  2. New way of getting classical music
    By Nashvillebill in forum Community Forum
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: Aug-31-2018, 06:21
  3. Tonal music and cliche
    By JANK in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 52
    Last Post: Dec-29-2017, 15:27
  4. Indian classical music
    By padmaiyangar in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: Aug-08-2016, 12:35
  5. The Musical Mind
    By Yagan Kiely in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: Jan-02-2010, 12:32

Posting Permissions

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