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I've discovered, that many members here have 'politicized' modern music.

It has never been my intention to consciously "politicize" modern music, but apparently those who already have will say otherwise. It seems that a political undercurrent has been uncovered. Some members probably knew this all along.

The question arises: is the dialogue of "traditional forms of art and music vs. modern art" political by nature, since it is perceived by some as being liberal, leftist, Marxist, non-traditional, and even destructive of tradition?

Is this an attitude of those traditionalists who feel their tradition is being threatened?

Does "modernism" equate to "liberalism?"

Will we ever be able to discuss such a thing without it having political resonances, intended or not?
Since WHAT is perceived by some as being liberal... modern music or the discussion of traditional vs modern music?

And why would modernism equate to liberalism, according to traditionalists? More likely, they would equate modernism with something more radical than liberalism! Liberalism (free speech, markets, conscience) is conservative, these days. When it was radical, Beethoven was writing his early string quartets.
 

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That "trickle-down experience" creates meaning by association, not meaning inherent in the music. Societies without traditions of militarism would not even imagine it. That is all I'm saying, and it is indeed "as simple as that."

No military or political ideas, activities or institutions are "ubiquitous and universal." Anyone imagining that they hear such things represented in music is making an attribution based on their particular experience. What they think they are hearing is not inherent in the music. A military march is military only because we have militaries that use such music.
No music is inherently meaningful, at least to such a degree as to encapsulate a political message.

But not even human speech is 'inherently meaningful' to this degree! It's just a set of physical waves omitted by a sender's voice box. (Linguists call this the 'abitrariness' of the sign). Listeners need to use these physical disturbances in the air and infer the speaker's intentions in uttering. To do this, the hearer must almost always draw upon contextual information. It's the job of the speaker to utter the most appropriate sound waves, given the context and mutual expectations about conversation, that would justify the hearer inferring the speaker's intended meaning.

If this is the case, then surely music can contain a meaning (or at the very least a purpose) too?

But to know this we have to know the intentions of the artist, just as, in inferring the meaning of an utterance, we have to know the intentions of the speaker (these intentions being the meaning of the utterance, according to linguists).

When it comes to Wagner, I would have to agree with you that there is no political intention behind the Valkyries. It has a narrative function within an opera, which is philosophical not political. If Wagner intended a political message, he failed to provide the kind of evidence which would warrant such an inference by the listener. So either he didn't intend a political meaning, or he failed to communicate it properly. I'm guessing the former, as he was no slouch.

So basically I agree with your conclusion, but not so much your underlying assumptions about representation in art.

P*ss Christ," unlike the Goya painting, seems to contain no political message. It seems an incongruity, by its title a vaguely unpleasant one - an image meant, at most, to provoke feelings, but hardly to guide them in any ideological way. It became a political issue because government was involved in funding the artist, and some people were offended that their tax money was being used to pay for what they considered a sacrilegious image.
I don't think a work has to 'guide' someone in order to count as ideological/political. It can simply make an emotive 'statement', such as 'Christianity sucks and I stomp on its grave' (and, of course, this 'statement' is not IN the artwork itself, but it is clearly to be inferred by the receiver).

This is intensely political, to anyone who is a Christian.
 

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My own views on this topic are that modern art is intensely political, much of the time, as exemplified by SanAntone's post referring a book on modern classical music.

Because of the intensely ideological nature of much modern art (go to a basic student exhibition at a university near you), I do NOT think it should be regarded as a political act, in turn, to reject this art.

I don't know how to express the idea satisfactorily, but surely shielding ones's senses from an empirical barrage that seeks to hammer a loaded agenda into one's skull while breaking all pleasing aesthetic conventions need not be classed as a politically conservative reaction to modern art?

Similarly, pointing to the morbid obsession with moralising, inherent in so much modern art, either in content or in form, and tracing the theoretical history of this moralising - deconstructing the deconstructionists, if you will - need not be itself an exercise in moralising. It can simply be a quest to understand what the hell is going on with modern art, why it is often devoid of aesthetic labour (for instance the art that is all about the moral idea being expressed, aesthetics having been deemed irrelevant), or alternatively filled with 'aesthetic' labour that seeks to be as discontinuous as possible with the human perception of beauty or grandeur (for instance much avant-garde 'classical' music).
 

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I don't agree that music and language are similar in the way you're defining them. Language is basically denotative: a certain symbol, spoken or written, refers by convention to a specific object or concept. In this sense meaning is indeed inherent in words. Musical structures are not denotative symbols (although musical sounds, like anything else, can be agreed upon as conventional representations). Music is not meaningless ("unable to express anything at all," as Stravinsky infamously suggested, but it is evocative rather than denotative, and open to the attribution of a wide range of meanings. We ask people to explain their verbal utterances, but not their musical ones.
I agree language and music have significant differences. One is that words have (conventional) semantic content and notes don't. I'm with you there. However, semantic content does not exhaust meaning. In fact, it is but a tool in the process of a speaker conveying meaning in a communicate act, according to linguists. Speaker meaning is not synonymous with semantic content. The former is the main stuff of communication, the latter a mere ingredient. Semantic content is often used by speakers to provide the hearer with evidence of the speaker's intended meaning. It is speaker meaning that is the 'message' conveyed in a communicate act.

The abstract and contextless semantic content of words used in an utterance is never enough to communicate the speaker's meaning. Successful communication depends on the hearer correctly inferring the speaker's meaning (the speaker's intention in uttering) based on the words used, contextual factors and mutual expectations about communication.

So, yes, words have semantic content and music doesn't, but decoding semantic content is only a component of communication, and not even a necessary one. For instance, I can communicate that I want you to go away by making some novel gesture (which, because it is novel, HAS no conventional semantic content). I just have to successfully predict that it will cause you to infer, based on the context and mutual assumptions, that I want you to go away. This is a perfectly valid form of communication (think also of laboriously communicating with someone from another language who shares no conventional semantic content with you). [By the way, neither is semantic content sufficient for successful communication. I can say 'do you want to get out of here' in a club, and my interlocutor might not realise this is a romantic proposition as opposed to a geographical proposition - i.e. they may get the semantic content right but my intention in uttering it, i.e. my intended meaning, wrong].

Music, I submit, could be like this kind of communication, in which semantic content is unnecessary - i.e. which uses tools other than semantic content to get meaning across. I think it is obvious that certain musical pieces encompass a meaning. Beethoven's 5th seems to communicate facing fate and triumphing. I think we are literally grasping Beethoven's intentions in creating the piece by inferring this meaning.

But I'm sure there are many simpler, less controversial examples than Beethoven's 5th where music is imbued with meaning... where ours brains do, in fact, search for a meaning behind the notes.

Again, there is a form of 'meaning' 'inherent' in words, i.e. conventional semantic content, but this is merely a clue provided by speakers to hearers, in the more fundamental process (according to linguists) of getting the hearer to correctly infer the speaker's intention(s). Inferring the speaker's intention in uttering amounts to grasping the meaning of the utterance. Meaning is not the same as semantic content, functionally speaking.

Now, I can certainly compose some music which is similarly designed to get a hearer to infer some intention of mine, i.e. some meaning I intend to communicate.

My view would be falsified if it wasn't the case that we employ cognitive machinery devoted to representing the mental states of others (intentions!) in enjoying at least some music. [When it comes to non-musical, everyday, communication, the fact that people with autism struggle is good evidence that routine communication depends on representing the intentions of others, as autism is thought to be a condition in which this ability - known formally as 'theory of mind' is pathologically absent].

I sometimes suspect that our use of theory of mind in processing great music is what provides it with its almost inexpressible richness (and, as it happens, what makes the random babble of avant-garde music uncompelling - because it defies this kind of agentive interpretation in the movement of the notes, as opposed to general overall inferences like 'this guy wants to be transgressive').
 

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But surely, one person's "pleasing aesthetic conventions" are not necessarily the same as another's? In fact, are any two persons absolutely identical in what they find aesthetically pleasing? Are your pleasing aesthetic conventions necessarily more valid than mine, or anyone else's?
Ironically, since the early 20th-century, the aesthetic standards of the groups purportedly served by the progressive deconstruction of 'traditional' artistic forms have tended to be much more conservative than the vanguard producing the art. It's mainly educated, institutionalised and upper-middle class white people creating and consuming avant-grade art.

This "intense" ideology and "loaded" political agenda that you claim exists in most modern art -- Is it a wide range of differing ideologies and agendas, or a single narrow one? Do you think that agenda generally is leftist, or liberal, or socialist, or communist?
I find this a little naive, but that could be just me.

Do you consider yourself leftist, or liberal, or socialist, or communist? If not, then how can you honestly and objectively characterize your negative response to it as non-political?
Firstly, It is simply objective to observe that aesthetic skill/craft has been increasingly de-emphasised in modern visual art since Dadaism and personalities like Duchamp. I don't think its political to react with artistic indifference to aesthetic indifference! Do you? (To the contrary, I think its political to be attracted to this art, to frequent otherwise ordinary exhibitions, skill wise, because you want to support the 'message').

Secondly, it is simply objective to observe that, where aesthetic skill/craft has not been de-emphasised, exactly, so much as redirected towards obscurity (as in avant-garde classical music), audience numbers have plummeted. I don't think this mass avoidance of modern classical music is political! Do you?

As I mentioned above, Dante's Divine Comedy is intensely political in many respects, even dealing with specific political figures and situations of his own day, some involving him personally. Does this prevent the Divine Comedy from being aesthetically pleasing?
I am not of the view that art with political components cannot be pleasing. However, I am also not of the view that any meaningful comparison exists between the marriage of politics and aesthetics in Dante and the same marriage in, say, this:


As is well known, Beethoven, who had pro-democratic, anti-royalist and aristocratic leanings (however muddled and inconsistent his political ideas may have been) originally dedicated his third symphony to Napoleon, but changed his mind after Napoleon declared himself Emperor of France. The symphony arguably evokes heroic revolution in various ways, and could be viewed as "leftist" music by the standards of his era. Does this political background prevent the symphony from being aesthetically pleasing?
I would like more justification for the supposedly 'leftist' nature of Beethoven's symphonies, as opposed to what it subjectively evokes for you as an individual...I don't believe Beethoven's symphonies to be particularly political, at all, as opposed to spiritual/metaphysical/emotional. But anyway, I never said political art is bad, across the board. My original comments related to modern art. Any 'activism' present in Beethoven, and the view of human nature and civilisation that he celebrated, would be deemed downright oppressive to the early 21st-century artistic vanguard. Why? Because things have moved on, drastically. The amount of power and vitality in Beethoven is far too confronting for the modern arts, which are more interested in vulnerability, victimhood and inclusiveness/diversity, or else irony and kitsch.
 

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The bad news for you is that this kind of thing is a classic politically conservative ploy: Symbolic lip service to gender equality by an establishment institution that accomplishes very little real reform. I'm sure the living artists involved, though they agreed to participate, want recognition as artists, not as female artists. But unlike you, I don't care if it's conservative or liberal. I'm not interested.
I didn't realise you are a one-man news room. Ok then. Your editor, which I assume is you, needs to be fired, as he has forgotten to come in from the fairies.

Politically conservative ploy indeed.... Next you'll be saying black is white and up is down.

I happen to think there is a place for those who seek to shock and outrage, as we always need to re-examine our values, even those we think are our most basic ones.
But only those values which give the majority a sense of comfort and meaning under the status-quo! Never the fundamental assumptions of the ones doing the shocking and outraging, eh?! No no no, that would see you loose your arts grant!

There is plenty of that kind of thing in ancient and medieval art.
Is there. Is there indeed?
 

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People set goals to control people, children in the UK are taught to accept goals set for them from a young age. Stockhausen's piece expresses a view of time which is shockingly antithetical to the way of thinking which has become entrenched in the west.
What a statement. People set goals for all sorts of reasons. Children are taught to accept goals so they can operate as part of civil society which involves people having control of themselves and taking responsibility.

Stockhausen's work is typical high-modernism: butcher the form to reflect the idea, rather than use tried-and-tested forms (with variations thereon that may extend/manipulate but never destroy) to communicate the idea in way that connects with people emotionally.

Pink Floyd's artistic encounter with time is much better for me than Stockhausen's, because it benefits from the latter approach. Instead of merely being an intellectually 'interesting' manipulation of form, it is an emotionally moving manipulation of content in a relatively conventional form.
 

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I honestly think it would be very easy to shock general society with modern art, but no modern artists are willing to do it.

As far as I can tell, for possibly the first time in history, it is, in general, progressive views that control modern moral propriety. People are tut-tutted not for defying the social codes of the conservatives, but rather the progressives. As such, if you want to shock the moral fabric of society you have to insult, demean, belittle, or otherwise attack the values of progressives. The problem, therefore, is not that we have become immunised against shock, but that the artist themselves, as progressives, hold the moral beliefs that one would have to violate in order to shock.

Another statue of the dark lord drinking the blood of Jesus or a woman flaunting her body in a statement about "feminism" does nothing to disrupt the moral fabric of society precisely because it is not against the moral fabric of society and not because this moral fabric has lost its capacity for shock.
You've hit the nail on the head.
 
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