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Thread: Will Atonal Compositions Last Centuries like Past Works?

  1. #826
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eva Yojimbo View Post
    Unlike you, I'm disinclined to say the former is automatically greater just because it seems to have this universal appeal.
    I don't recall ever saying that.

  2. #827
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    How does one "justify" liking things?
    OK, we'll substitute "explain": "There is a reason/are reasons I like X, think it's great, am moved by it, and that reason is/those reasons are......"
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Oct-01-2019 at 18:08.

  3. #828
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    It might be useful/helpful--certainly interesting--to see someone (here) give some examples of art or music they like for which they can articulate no explanation. We always have our reasons.
    I've replaced your original word "justification" with "explanation," as you suggested.

    I don't agree that "we" always have our reasons for liking things. I suspect that we usually don't, especially regarding music, if by "we" you mean people in general and not some select group of aesthetic philosophers or other cerebral types. Most people are content to enjoy music without trying to explain why they like it - to analyze it and/or themselves - and some would even feel that an attempt to conceptualize their experience would spoil it. I think they have a point, since an adequate "explanation" for a musical preference would entail more information than anyone has access to. Against that, it's normal (isn't it? ) to want to understand things, and many people who come to a forum like this are here partly to do just that. But those who've given a lot of thought to questions of aesthetics - the origins of art, its purposes, the reasons it takes the forms it does, how it "works" - are a small minority.

    I suspect it would be easy for most people to name something in music they enjoy but be unable to give a reason for their enjoyment. But even if they could give some reason, it would never be a full "explanation." The usual way of answering the question, "Why do you like this chorale prelude," would be to translate the question into "What do you like about this chorale prelude?" We could then say, for instance, "I like the counterpoint between the chorale tune in long notes and the countermelodies based on it." We might then be asked, "Why do you like that sort of counterpoint?" We could answer in a number of ways, but our answer could be met with "And why do you like that?" or "Why do you feel that way?" This would result in a regress of causes, ending at the limit of our understanding. Pursuing such a process of explanation would be as distasteful to some people as it would be fascinating to others.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Oct-01-2019 at 19:53.

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  5. #829
    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Is there not the possibility that "we"--amateurs, aficionados, experts, critics--contrive after the fact to find the necessary and inherent virtues and qualities within the art that we love that validate our selection of a piece of art or music as great, good, excellent? Are our criteria always found to be sufficiently elastic such that they can be fitted tightly to conform to the shape of the most ungainly effort? I'll bet all of us can thus fine-tune our definition of fundamental/universal aspects of human nature to fit the most exacting requirements.
    The history should guide us to save time. I think people could learn the history of music theory and the history of Western music in a few years, casually, on their own. I think of the history of chess and the interesting games that were played about a century ago and how today's worldclass strategies will consider them clever but naïve. In any case you need to have the historical view to appreciate those of then and now.

    Added
    To me, it's the same with every serious subject from geology to meteorology to astronomy. Clever ideas but naive.
    Last edited by Luchesi; Oct-01-2019 at 19:43.
    Tradition is not the worship of ashes - but the preservation of fire!
    Gustav Mahler

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Woodduck, I think we actually agree here, or, perhaps, have no reason to disagree. The reality is that the experience of the music or art comes first, is the sine qua non. At some later time. either simultaneously or over a more or less protracted period of time, comes liking a piece, barring immediately being repelled by it. Deep indifference/noninterest over time is another possible outcome. Then can come analysis and retrospection as to how/why/what about the art that "causes" us to like it. We both appreciate Meyer's work on this but he excluded or chose not to discuss certain other aspects (the "sensual") and the powerful factor of individual variability among people. As you point out, some of us like to think about "reasons why"; others prefer to just focus on the primacy of the experience of art. And some of us enjoy discussing such phenomena as discussing art. It's all good, until we ascribe things to the art itself that suggest others ought to like something when they don't (no matter how hard they try).

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  8. #831
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luchesi View Post
    The history should guide us to save time. I think people could learn the history of music theory and the history of Western music in a few years, casually, on their own. I think of the history of chess and the interesting games that were played about a century ago and how today's worldclass strategies will consider them clever but naïve. In any case you need to have the historical view to appreciate those of then and now.

    Added
    To me, it's the same with every serious subject from geology to meteorology to astronomy. Clever ideas but naive.
    Luchesi, I confess here that there is a certain opacity to your remarks that I can often never entirely penetrate. I'm sure the flaw is mine and that you will understand then why my replies to some of your posts seem unsatisfactory to you.

  9. #832
    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Luchesi, I confess here that there is a certain opacity to your remarks that I can often never entirely penetrate. I'm sure the flaw is mine and that you will understand then why my replies to some of your posts seem unsatisfactory to you.
    I've had this discussion with many types of people with many backgrounds for many decades and you have obviously thought about these issues, so your posts don't seem unsatisfactory to me.

    We definitely have different approaches for evaluating. When you say you like something, I immediately think in my own mind, did you like it 50 years ago? I can't help it. At what age were you experienced enough to appreciate Bach or Beethoven? Doesn't it matter to the evaluation? I mean, do you appreciate it all by the same qualities as a young person would, or as an educated musician would?

    Do you LIKE this majestic mountain range better than that majestic mountain range? Because of your background you might actually have some very thoughtful reasons, but how would I LIKE one more than the other?
    Tradition is not the worship of ashes - but the preservation of fire!
    Gustav Mahler

  10. #833
    Senior Member Eva Yojimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    It might be useful/helpful--certainly interesting--to see someone (here) give some examples of art or music they like for which they can articulate no justification. We always have our reasons.
    The difficulty is avoiding false rationalizations. I suspect the real reasons why we like things are far more complicated than most people suspect and usually we're just the proverbial blind men feeling around the elephant.

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  12. #834
    Senior Member Eva Yojimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I don't recall ever saying that.
    Hmmm, my mistake. I had the impression you thought the art that taps into those universal qualities was better than that which just appealed to certain individuals or smaller groups/times/cultures.

  13. #835
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eva Yojimbo View Post
    Hmmm, my mistake. I had the impression you thought the art that taps into those universal qualities was better than that which just appealed to certain individuals or smaller groups/times/cultures.
    As a generality, I'd say it is. That's different from what you said before: "automatically greater just because it seems to have this universal appeal." Simple rhythms seem to have universal appeal, but nobody thinks a drummer going "rat-a tat-bang-boom" is producing great art.

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