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Thread: Place of music among arts

  1. #1
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    Default Place of music among arts

    If you read Wikipedia article about art you'll find that the first sentence is:

    "Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, photography, sculpture, and paintings."

    So, music is, of course, included.

    However the rest of the article will deal only with visual arts.

    Also, if you study history of art, you'll actually study only history of visual arts.

    Furthermore, in article about fine arts, you'll find this:

    "Historically, the fine arts were limited to painting, sculpture, architecture and engraving. Today, the fine arts commonly include visual and performing art forms, such as painting, sculpture, installation, Calligraphy, music, dance, theatre, architecture, photography and printmaking. However, in some institutes of learning or in museums fine art, and frequently the term fine arts (pl.) as well, are associated exclusively with the visual art forms."

    Predictably - in this case, too, the rest of the article deals primarily with visual arts and music is totally neglected.

    So, what do you think - why is the term "art" almost exclusively associated with visual arts? Why "history of art" studies only history of visual arts? Why are music, literature and other important arts neglected? Why isn't there one single discipline that studies all art forms, their history, and how they influenced each other? Why is painting and sculpture always considered "fine" - while music - not so often?

    There is only one wikipedia article that deals with all the arts equaly - and this is the article "The arts".

    In the article "Art", however, there is total focus on visual arts, as well as in article "History of art".
    ------------------------------------
    Besides all these issues about neglecting music, dance, theatre, literature, etc in fields that study art, I have other not so controversial questions.

    What is the place of music among arts?
    Why are attitudes of people significantly different when it comes to music, in comparison to other arts?

    Could you rang arts and which do you respect most and why?

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    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whistlerguy View Post
    So, what do you think - why is the term "art" almost exclusively associated with visual arts? Why "history of art" studies only history of visual arts? Why are music, literature and other important arts neglected? Why isn't there one single discipline that studies all art forms, their history, and how they influenced each other? Why is painting and sculpture always considered "fine" - while music - not so often?
    These are ridiculously stupid questions. Firstly, under what reasoning, if at all, made you to suggest music, literature etc. are neglected? If the word art is commonly understood to denote visual arts, then so be it. It is a manner of communication, not a denouncement of music etc. Since you like to refer to Wikipedia so much, you can look up the word "musicology" and find your answers there. We all know of course that music is art but we obviously need words to separate out visual arts from what would be used to describe as artistic sound, which is music.

    Juvenile.

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    Wouldn't it be more fair to call a discipline "History of visual arts" instead of "History of art", since only visual arts are included?

    Why isn't there single comparative academic discipline that studies history of all arts?

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    Semantics. Can you think of any other over-arching terminology that might include the whole of the "visual arts" (painting, sculpture, ceramics, metalry, fiber arts, book arts, performance art, photography, film, etc...?)? "Music" pretty much covers every musical genre: opera, choral, chamber, symphonic, jazz, rock, folk, blues, etc... "Literature" largely defines every written work as high art, while "writing" works just fine for the entire slew. The reality is that it was the visual arts, if anything, that were long "neglected". The original "Liberal Arts" were comprised of:

    * the Trivium

    1. grammar
    2. rhetoric
    3. logic

    * the Quadrivium

    4. arithmetic
    5. geometry
    6. music
    7. astronomy

    The more recent interpretation of the Liberal Arts includes: literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science.

    No mention in either of the visual arts as "Art"... because until the Renaissance... and for a good deal thereafter... visual artists were considered as little more than skilled laborers... craftsmen. The various disciplines (painting, woodcarving, stone carving, engraving, metalry) were organized under guilds, not unlike today's unions under which skilled laborers such as carpenters or electricians work. Products of the visual artists were not considered to be products of the human mind, but merely of manual labor to the extent that most visual art was anonymous and left unsigned. It was only with figures such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Brunelleschi, and Alberti... artists who did not limit themselves to a single medium and could write as well as create visual products, that artist first began to assert themselves as "Artists".

    Music was probably considered a "liberal art" because of its links with mathematics... and because it clearly is not a product of manual labor, but of the mind.

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    Why isn't there single comparative academic discipline that studies history of all arts?

    How many can mastered one of the disciplines, let alone all?

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    Senior Member Falstaft's Avatar
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    I think these are perfectly fair if somewhat naive questions to ask, certainly not "ridiculously stupid."

    There are a range of responses one could give for the somewhat different treatment of music among the fine arts, and I don't think we should reflexively dismiss it as a matter of pure semantics - we are talking matters of prestige, inclusion/exclusion, education, funding, public perception, you name it. A large part, of course, does come down to usage, both historical (nicely pointed out by StLukes) and contemporary, but that's not the end of the story.

    Now, I'm not sure it's neglected per se, but music is often afforded a artistic category on a different plane than visual and plastic arts. Part of this I think is nicely explained by Stlukes. Music is indeed afforded *special* status by many largely for its tendency for the non-representational - one can hardly read a paragraph among romantic aestheticians, critics, philosophers, or poets on the subject without finding some paean to the unique, higher status of music because of its direct appeal to the intellect (or, for others, the emotions), without the dirty intermediary of the "world." Since much of our aesthetic thought is still colored by 19th century thought in this regard, I'm not surprised many still consider music and the visual arts to be cultural products differing in kind.

    Another big (and related) reason has to do with the nature of sound as a medium. With the exception of people who spend a lot of time thinking and writing about music (i.e. us), most people are not equipped with the same fine-grained distinctions made possible by our predominantly visual language and habits of description. That is, it's harder to talk about music (especially with any rigor) than the visual arts because most people don't have as rich a metalanguage to hone their impressions with. I see this a lot in film studies, where decades and decades of scholarship went by with little to no attention given to sound (much less scoring) in movies. Part of this is the result of disciplinary accident - film theory grows largely out of lit theory, certainly not musicology! But even that is telling, because most musicologists are perfectly happy and confident to approach a literary text (a lied setting, for example) while a lot of the literary theorists and film studies people I've met instantly throw up their hands in admission of ignorance when it comes to describing music.

    That may be a little beyond the scope of what you've asked Whistlerguy, but I hope it's not irrelevant to your interests.

    Incidentally, while there may not be a single discipline that encompasses all of the arts mentioned here (just as no one would get a PhD or a non-elementary school teaching job in just "science"), the term humanities is used to capture the arts plus some other non-vocational studies (which depends on who you ask - they can range from philosophy through history through social sciences through hard sciences through math). Another field, cultural studies, has a very holistic approach to the arts (and basically anything else) though tends to be interested less in matters of form/construction/aesthetics and more on social context and implications.

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