View Poll Results: Where is the beauty in music?

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  • In the music itself

    17 31.48%
  • In the listeners brain

    37 68.52%
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Thread: Where is the beauty in music?

  1. #1
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    Default Where is the beauty in music?

    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.
    Last edited by Wilhelm Theophilus; Oct-14-2021 at 20:06.

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    Moderator Art Rock's Avatar
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    Given that different people react differently to the same music, I would think it's obviously in the listeners brain.

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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?
    I think the defining phrase is "when you hear." That makes it subjective. In that sense, its beauty depends on the listener's brain.

    I do think beauty in a piece of music exists outside of a subjective hearer's perception, reflecting things like its form or innovation in form, its instrumentation or inventiveness in instrumentation (I'm discovering this with Stravinsky), its melodic/thematic content or the manipulation of such. In that sense, a piece can be beautiful even though listeners perceive it as ugly.

    Charles Ives said, “Beauty in music is too often confused with something that lets the ear lie back in an easy chair." That is a reductive statement, but I get his point. And I think most members of TalkClassical don't experience that confusion and look deeper than that.
    Last edited by Manxfeeder; Oct-14-2021 at 20:33.

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    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    To ask this question in the form of a poll is to demonstrate its answer. We're all empiricists if we're being scrupulously honest with ourselves, and know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Those who want to claim they are rationalists will come nowhere near this poll, or any other. They know that their position can't be based on empirical data, which is all a poll can provide, but instead requires a theory of aesthetics. Which remains elusive after thousands of years. Good luck with that, as there's a reason it's called the essentialism fallacy.
    Last edited by fluteman; Oct-14-2021 at 22:50.

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    "In the mind" would be a slightly better second option. "In the brain" too obviously incoherent. The brain is a material organ, there are cells and all kinds of structures *in* it but neither music nor beauty. I understand when someone says "The Broca region is in the brain" or "Neuron xyz is in the brain". I don't understand what it should mean that "beauty is in the brain" (except that some avid brain surgeon might find brains beautiful).

    I am also not sure if "itself" is supposed to add anything in the first option and if so, what. I'd just say: A piece of music can be beautiful. Or "x is beautiful" can be a true statement, when x refers to some piece of music.

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    Beauty is in the thing being perceived. The ability to perceive the beauty as beauty is in the perceiver. Or at least, that's how I think of it.

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    In the perceptions of both the composer and the listener.

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    In the listeners's brain. We can find different music beautiful, and often disagree about the same work - so it cannot be within the music itself.

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    Beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

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    It's both. That's the whole point. Something special is communicated and received. Our minds, hearts, & imagination are stimulated, by what we hear. Though we can argue or agree about what exactly it was that's been communicated and about what it meant to us on a personal level.

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    Senior Member eljr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    To ask this question in the form of a poll is to demonstrate its answer. We're all empiricists if we're being scrupulously honest with ourselves, and know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Those who want to claim they are rationalists will come nowhere near this poll, or any other. They know that their position can't be based on empirical data, which is all a poll can provide, but instead requires a theory of aesthetics. Which remains elusive after thousands of years. Good luck with that, as there's a reason it's called the essentialism fallacy.
    This submission is not valid, not at all.

    Recognizing the aesthetics of art is not subjective, only the interpretation in that recognition is.

    A mind of reason would not commit a fallacy let alone an essentialism fallacy. Have you committed one?
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
    Voltaire

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    "In the mind" would be a slightly better second option. "In the brain" too obviously incoherent. The brain is a material organ, there are cells and all kinds of structures *in* it but neither music nor beauty.

    What is the mind but the pattern and communication mechanism of the brain?
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
    Voltaire

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    Depends on the definition of beauty, but a concept of beauty that contents itself with simple subjectivity is a useless dead end. Anyone can call anything "beautiful," but that doesn't help us understand why no one considers a clumsy counterpoint exercise as beautiful as a fugue of Bach.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Oct-14-2021 at 23:41.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    It's both. That's the whole point. Something special is communicated and received. Our minds, hearts, & imagination are stimulated, by what we hear. Though we can argue or agree about what exactly it was that's been communicated and about what it meant to us on a personal level.
    But what is it that people share or have in common that causes them to agree? Or, what is different about people that causes them to disagree? You act as if the similarities and differences people have in reaction to exactly the same piece of music is some minor point that need not concern us. I think it is the entire point.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Those who want to claim they are rationalists will come nowhere near this poll, or any other. They know that their position can't be based on empirical data, which is all a poll can provide, but instead requires a theory of aesthetics. Which remains elusive after thousands of years. Good luck with that, as there's a reason it's called the essentialism fallacy.
    Who are these "rationalists," and how do you know what polls they'll come near?
    Last edited by Woodduck; Oct-14-2021 at 23:44.

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