View Poll Results: Where is the beauty in music?

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  • In the music itself

    48 47.06%
  • In the listeners brain

    54 52.94%
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Thread: Where is the beauty in music?

  1. #241
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilhelm Theophilus View Post
    When you hear a beautiful piece of music, is the beauty in the music itself or is it in the listeners brain?

    Give a short explanation of why you voted either way.
    I believe the poll is missing an entry, but unfortunately there is no easy way to be succinct about it.

    Beauty is not entirely in the "sounds" of the music when it is playing... if a tree falls in the forest it does make a sound, even when no one is there to hear it, but if some loudspeakers play a Symphony in the forest and no one hears it where is the beauty? The sound waves will helplessly bounce off deaf trees and unthinking rocks... So, the beauty of music is not intrinsic to an existing sequence of sound no matter what the pattern.

    That said, the beauty of music is not entirely in the listener's brain, no arbitrary set of disorganized noises of a landslide or an avalanche are beautiful (musically) to any human mind, no matter how much one might wish to pretend. Musical beauty is not entirely subjective, though one can imagine a poser pretending that some kind of avante garde snorting and coughing, are music to his or her ears.

    Musical beauty is a response of a listener's particular human brain, (having a particular auditory system, particular sensory and higher level structures and functions which perceive patterns and relationships, over time, and between frequencies of sounds) to particular patterns of sounds which create that response. Without the right patterns of sounds in time and frequency (notes), which at least are discernible and coherent to a mind and auditory system (dare I say a musical center of the brain?) structured and functioning as it does, the relationship of the experience of beauty does not arise... and all one has is confusion and noise. Equally, without the mind and auditory system of a human being to sense, perceive, and experience the sounds as beautiful, the sound literally falls on deaf ears in a forest of unhearing trees and unthinking rocks.


    The beauty of music then is then both in the nature (identity) of the sound pattern and in the nature (identity) of the human listener's brain.


    Beauty in music, then is an objective experience, arising only in a listener only listening to something in particular, namely, music.


    Proposed Further Entry:

    In an objective relationship between the listener and the music

  2. #242
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    For me, a lot depends on my previous experience with European tonalities and expectations, even including the archaic hymn to Apollo (and which would include a certain amount of modern Greek popular music with its fascinating rhythms). However, though I know a bit of Mandarin, and have read that Confucius was a sensitive and opinionated critic of musical performances, I have great difficulty appreciating later classical Chinese opera. So there is more to perceiving beauty than whether the hairs in my inner ears vibrate in mathematically harmonious patterns or not — though I think that that factor is immensely important for me.

  3. #243
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by parlando View Post
    For me, a lot depends on my previous experience with European tonalities and expectations, even including the archaic hymn to Apollo (and which would include a certain amount of modern Greek popular music with its fascinating rhythms). However, though I know a bit of Mandarin, and have read that Confucius was a sensitive and opinionated critic of musical performances, I have great difficulty appreciating later classical Chinese opera. So there is more to perceiving beauty than whether the hairs in my inner ears vibrate in mathematically harmonious patterns or not — though I think that that factor is immensely important for me.
    But it's hard to be objective about one's own tastes, isn't it? For this topic, I like to focus on what I observe in others.

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  5. #244
    Senior Member DaveM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Actually, according to statista.com, Classical and Opera are currently the 10th most popular genre in the US, behind Rock, Pop, Country, R&B and Soul, Hip Hop, Easy Listening, Electronic dance, Jazz and Blues.

    So, by your reasoning, there must be something inherent about the music of those more favored genres that makes it superior to the music of Bach and Beethoven. As you put it, what could that be but the music itself? I'll go further and suggest what the source of that superiority might be:

    6 of the 9 more-favored genres have a strong African-American influence: Rock, Pop, R&B and Soul, Hip Hop, Jazz and Blues. Pop music has recently seen a surge in influence from Japan and Korea, thanks to J-Pop and K-Pop. And all 9, though maybe to a lesser extent Jazz and Blues, have been strongly influenced by modern technology, including electrical amplification.

    So, Bach and Beethoven have been soundly defeated by the 20th century trends of globalization and technology. And though it's heartening to see Classical and Opera as high as no. 10, you're going to have to accept the likes of Arvo Part, Leonard Bernstein and Philip Glass as Classical and Opera in order to accept that ranking. So, what is your favorite recording or performance of West Side Story? Einstein on the Beach? Spiegel im Spiegel?
    I have no idea what sense it makes to respond to a claim of objective greatness within a specific genre of music by naming all the other genres that are more popular as if the evaluation of a classical composer depends on comparison with The Beatles, Willy Nelson or Snoop Dogg. If a jazz enthusiast names off what he/she considers to be the greatest jazz artists/composers and adds what he/she considers to be objective evidence, are you going to respond with this same spiel? This is a tired, irrelevant argument that needs to be permanently shelved.

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  7. #245
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forster View Post
    Wouldn't "The trouble comes when people try to invest their preference for the aesthetic values of CPT with some theoretical justification" be an equally valid statement?
    Yes. So long as I am being paraphrased, remember that I tried to be very evenhanded about this a few pages back. The idea is, The trouble comes when people try to invest ANY set of aesthetic values with some theoretical justification.

  8. #246
    Senior Member Forster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    I have no idea what sense it makes [...]
    Well I got the joke...

  9. #247
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    Quote Originally Posted by janxharris View Post
    Bach's music is composed of the intervals and resolutions and relationships and forms which are 'beautiful' to a good percentage of humans.
    Yes, but-

    A good portion of music back then was specifically created according to those rules of tonality. There have been many times in history where classical works have been misattributed to Mozart, or Haydn. Now, musicologists, Mozart scholars and listeners with a lot of classical period experience may be able to pick out the stylistic elements which are specific to Mozart, or Haydn, or a Bach kid- but I guarantee that for the average listener, the subjective listening experience of listening to something when it's framed as a lost Mozart masterpiece, or if it's a misattributed piece by a minor classical period composer will be completely different. All of that is extramusical-theoretically, if all beauty and pleasure is inherent to the music, it shouldn't make a difference if an average listener is lied to, and told a non-Mozart work is by Mozart, but it clearly *does* make a difference.

    All of this is to say that the pleasure people get from music frequently has to do with elements outside the music entirely.
    Last edited by fbjim; Oct-22-2021 at 17:23.

  10. #248
    Senior Member DaveM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forster View Post
    Well I got the joke...
    A long drawn out joke with no punchline.

  11. #249
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luchesi View Post
    No one needs to be reminded that JsB and LvB are consistently at the top of polls. It’s noteworthy, to say the least.
    It’s not the result of objective facts about their music? What else could it be?


    We like to say it’s the way humans are subjectively wired? I don’t know what that means, but I understand that it’s easier to think that way.
    Well, it could well be that circumstance evolved that forestered this belief and it has been passed down. I submit, you can take someone wholly unfamiliar with classical music and ask them to name the 3 greatest composers of all time and Bach, Beethoven and Mozart will bellow from their vocal box.

    If someone is told something over and over, they assume it's fact and repeat it. They repeat it because they then believe it to be fact.

    Religion is an excellent example of this. It is not dissimilar at all.
    Last edited by eljr; Oct-22-2021 at 17:35.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
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  12. #250
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilhelm Theophilus View Post
    No human beings around you mean.

    You fail to understand the definition of objective. Human perception of a thing does does not give to a thing objectivity. We don't make it true, if its objectively true. That's the definition of objective. Something that is true outside of the mind in the real world. If for music to be beautiful you need humans to affirm that, that means its not objective, because if something is objectively true its true regardless of human opinion.

    But you are saying the music needs a human to perceive it in order to be objectively beautiful, which makes no sense, then the beauty of the music would be subjectively dependent on the human perceiver.
    That's exactly my point. The idea of beauty itself is a human construct so there can be no such thing as "regardless of human opinion" when it comes to it.

    Or rather, to put it another way, beauty is an idea, not a concrete object so it cannot actually "exist" in the "real world" the same way that proton atoms do.
    Last edited by violadude; Oct-22-2021 at 17:51.

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  14. #251
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    Quote Originally Posted by fbjim View Post
    Yes, but-

    A good portion of music back then was specifically created according to those rules of tonality. There have been many times in history where classical works have been misattributed to Mozart, or Haydn. Now, musicologists, Mozart scholars and listeners with a lot of classical period experience may be able to pick out the stylistic elements which are specific to Mozart, or Haydn, or a Bach kid- but I guarantee that for the average listener, the subjective listening experience of listening to something when it's framed as a lost Mozart masterpiece, or if it's a misattributed piece by a minor classical period composer will be completely different. All of that is extramusical-theoretically, if all beauty and pleasure is inherent to the music, it shouldn't make a difference if an average listener is lied to, and told a non-Mozart work is by Mozart, but it clearly *does* make a difference.

    All of this is to say that the pleasure people get from music frequently has to do with elements outside the music entirely.
    Your post makes a good point, though it has nothing to do with with what I wrote - I was limiting Luchesi's assertion.

  15. #252
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    Quote Originally Posted by violadude View Post
    That's exactly my point. The idea of beauty itself is a human construct so there can be no such thing as "regardless of human opinion" when it comes to it.

    Or rather, to put it another way, beauty is an idea, not a concrete object so it cannot actually "exist" in the "real world" the same way that proton atoms do.

    Yes it can. It exists within us. PET scans can show it although this technology, in this regard, is still in it's infancy.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
    Voltaire

  16. #253
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    Quote Originally Posted by eljr View Post
    Yes it can. It exists within us. PET scans can show it although this technology, in this regard, is still in it's infancy.
    Great joke ....

  17. #254
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilhelm Theophilus View Post
    No human beings around you mean.

    You fail to understand the definition of objective. Human perception of a thing does does not give to a thing objectivity. We don't make it true, if its objectively true. That's the definition of objective. Something that is true outside of the mind in the real world. If for music to be beautiful you need humans to affirm that, that means its not objective, because if something is objectively true its true regardless of human opinion.

    But you are saying the music needs a human to perceive it in order to be objectively beautiful, which makes no sense, then the beauty of the music would be subjectively dependent on the human perceiver.
    I guess you were sleeping when we learned that there is no such thing as objective truth.

    Does a dog perceive the "beauty" of a Mozart aria? Can you hold beauty in your hand?

  18. #255
    Senior Member DaveM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Can you hold beauty in your hand?
    Yes, my little Chihuahua.

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