Classical Music Forum banner
1 - 20 of 189 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
If Strange Magic has left the thread I'm more than willing to take up for the "subjectivist" side.

The more I've had this discussion (not just on here, but elsewhere), the more I've come to realize that the terms themselves are at least partially to blame for why and how people talk past each other. At the least I think I've found four slightly different definitions people seem to be using when mentioning objectivity/subjectivity:

Subjectivity = Mind-dependent things or "individual opinion"
Objectivity = Mind-independent things or "facts not amenable to individual opinion."

There are probably more subtle definitions than this, especially with objective where I've also noticed a definition close to something like "unbiased."

To me, it's quite obvious that any notions of greatness, good, better, best, etc. do not exist as properties of objects without perceiving, feeling, thinking minds that create values and standards based on what they like/dislike. These values and standards can point to objective features of music, but this is very different from saying the greatness is IN those features that we like. This also doesn't mean all artistic judgments exist only as individual opinions. We do, indeed, have have the standards and values formed by groups whether they be as small as a sub-sub-sub culture devoted to a rather obscure genre of music, or the standards of a society/culture over long periods of time. The latter are valuable in large part because they determine what music survives for future generations to discover. It's fine, of course, if you only decide to care about what music you like/enjoy, but to me part of the reason to engage in discussions about greatness, canons, etc. is to play a role (even if it's a minor one) in determining what music is heard in the future. In a way it's a kind of Darwinian approach to aesthetics.

I think the difficulty of this subject is bound up in the messy tangle that happens in the interaction of subjects with art objects. We experience an art object and our reactions (aesthetically, emotionally, intellectually, etc.) themselves are an incredibly complex web of cognitive phenomena influenced by a billion different things that we can have vastly different levels of awareness of, ranging from our socio-cultural conditioning to our individual personalities and tastes to our knowledge about the art in question even to all of the evolutionary psychology that underlies why we appreciate and value art in the first place.

As far as I know, nobody has come close to unraveling this entire mess, though I don't doubt there are steps being made towards it in science that, at the very least, can alert us to some of the unconscious cognitive factors that go into shaping our aesthetic opinions and values, both as individuals and in a larger socio-cultural context. EG, I find it fascinating that generally people's music tastes tend to peak around their teenage years, with the music they latch onto during that period usually remaining lifetime favorites; and declining as they get older, resulting in the cliched attitude of "music in my day was so much better than the crap that's popular today!" Obviously such a phenomenon doesn't describe everyone, but clearly it's a common thing and must have some psychological/neurological underpinning. It's just one example of how I think science can move towards helping us understand why react to art how we do.

I also think the objectivists have a point in that certain things--like the continuing appeal of the "great composers" like Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and their "masterpieces" over time--scream out for an explanation of why/how that happens. It's a truism that such composers/work are considered great people people continue to think they're great, but explaining why they think/continue to think that is another matter entirely. It could very well be that such great composers/works managed to tap into something that appeals to very fundamental elements in our psychology, allowing them to be appreciated/enjoyed across times/cultures and even by people who aren't well-versed in the social-cultural particularities of the era in which they made their music; but even if that's the case I would still caution against claiming this is any kind of "objective" standard for greatness. What it is is an explanation for why so many subjects think such things are great. You may think that's splitting hairs, but we're still also left with the problem that there is zero music that appeals to everyone, and even the enduring composers/works have relatively little stake in the big picture of all the music out there that people now like.

I would also like to applaud OP for suggesting that we move towards something like a reductionist approach to this issue in which we do try to consider these subjects more piecemeal rather than the big generalities that tend to get spoken about. As much as I'm interested in the subjective/objective distinction from a philosophical angle I do think it would be more useful if we took to discussing the "complex interaction between subjects and art-objects," but part of that has to come with a recognition that the subject, at the very least, plays an equal role in that interaction; that standards/values aren't God-given, aren't found in nature the way rocks and trees are, but are created by human minds with biases and values relative to their time, their cultures, their biases, personalities, individualities, etc. There's something that can easily happen in human cognition when standards are shared by a lot of people within a group that people start thinking those standards have an existence as objectively real as the sun and ignore the fact that they were originally created by other human minds that had their own biases and values relative to the things listed above. It's GOOD to question such things, even if we end up accepting them as our own.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
One person says I like this I don't like that. Leave me alone. It doesn't matter that much.

The other person says, well let's look at what's in the scores, let's see what the different devices do to our brain and try to figure out how that all works in all the different combinations from Art. Perhaps what we learn can be applied elsewhere.. As Goethe exclaimed (we’re told) on his death bed, “More light, more light!”.

Which one is the constructive course?, which one is an investment in our future well-being?, which one will promote through education the best music to be endure to the future?

It seems so clear to me, but other people approach many subjects as mere entertainment. Perhaps they’re weary from all the ‘schooling’ from every direction these days. 24 hour news and the whole Internet full of answers that are now so easy to look up, …you can teach yourself technical subjects if you're driven to do that.
I would answer your questions with this question: constructive to what end, and what does either have to do with our future well-being? We're talking about understanding aesthetics, not curing cancer or learning how to do our taxes!

I don't see how either approach as you wrote them will "promote through education the 'best' music to endure to the future;" that kind of preservation for posterity falls on choices made by actual educators and, to a lesser extent, passionate music fans like ourselves. As to whether it actually promotes "the best music to endure," that's kinda the issue we're trying to get at, or maybe under.

I don't disagree with anything in your last paragraph, though I'm also not sure how it relates to the discussion at hand since I didn't really mention entertainment VS learning technical subjects.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Thank you for a well thought out and well written response to this debate. Several of us have pointed out (you, 4chamberedklavier, myself, and Sid to some extent) that we feel members are not arguing the same issues. There seems to be no movement towards agreement at least partially for that reason. Personally I believe both sides are generally correct in what they argue. I do believe greatness is subjective (and obviously so), but I believe there are reasons that certain composers and works are considered to stand above others. There are experts (and other knowledgeable people) who can assess works and give reasons that others can understand and appreciate. Those reasons are worth discussing, and those who argue strenuously that those reasons matter are correct.
Part of it is just the difficulty of not only comprehending such complex subjects but finding ways to communicate that understanding effectively to other people. It's a well-known fact that the people most educated on a given subject don't always make the best teachers because they aren't the best at communicating that knowledge. So not only are we all coming at this with slightly different perspectives and slightly different understandings of all the words being used, we're coming at this with different ways of expressing those perspectives and understandings!

Nonetheless, I think I agree with everything you say here. My only caution is that experts are often great at telling you about all the objective features in a work, but that there is still an unbridgeable gap between what a work IS and whether or not it's great, good, bad, better, best. etc. One thing I find is that people think that an expertise in facts makes one an expertise in value judgments, and that's not the case; the two things simply inhabit completely different spheres. As a rather absurd example, an expert on colors still has no real authority on what the best color is. But I would absolutely agree that experts are to be valued for the knowledge and insights they do possess, for their ability to educate us and alter/expand our awareness and appreciation of everything that goes into a work of art.

I also agree that it's worth discussing all the reasons we have (or think we have) for valuing the art we do and don't, but I can also understand why some don't care about such things. We're all here for different reasons.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
"Standards of what we like and dislike" is a little vague. I don't feel particularly predisposed to like atonal music, but I love Webern and most Schoenberg.
I'm not sure what you find vague about it as your second sentence doesn't seem to follow. If you like Webern and most Schoenberg then there is some standard (even if you can't articulate it) upon which you think they succeed in order to engender your liking of them. That standard isn't necessarily atonal music in the abstract, but has to do with how they use atonality to make the music they do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
But they set the standard, not me.
They just made the music. If their music becomes the standard it's only because you (and others) liked it and accepted it as the standard by which to judge similar music by. Further, you liked it because you feel it succeeded on some standard, even if the standard is as basic/simple as "it moves me."

EDIT: replied before I saw your further edit, but I feel like you answered me yourself: you found the craftmanship/logic appealing so that was the standard you were using to judge their success. I'm not saying this is necessarily a predisposition towards liking something. Our tastes can change with more exposure and understanding, but that in itself is a subjective phenomena in that what's changing is our minds, not the art.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
They made the music. I didn't. And that's no triviality. If I had that standard pre-implanted in my brain i could've "just made the music" myself.
I don't see how that follows. What does having a standard in your mind (pre-implanted or not) have to do with making the music yourself? I don't see how the two are even remotely connected. The creative process involves more than just following a standard that you're (consciously or unconsciously) aware of. Composers may have standards that they follow themselves, but backed up by a boatload of technical know-how as well as that mysterious thing we call inspiration.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
“I would answer your questions with this question: constructive to what end, and what does either have to do with our future well-being? We're talking about understanding aesthetics, not curing cancer or learning how to do our taxes!”

I think about the children who are lucky enough to develop an interest in CM because it just might stick with them through the decades. Life is difficult and the music can grow with us. And then I think about the kids who have never had the chance.

“I don't see how either approach as you wrote them will "promote through education the 'best' music to endure to the future;" that kind of preservation for posterity falls on choices made by actual educators and, to a lesser extent, passionate music fans like ourselves. As to whether it actually promotes "the best music to endure," that's kinda the issue we're trying to get at, or maybe under.”

I think about the audiences down through the centuries who have had to become educated and accustomed to the rise of dissonance and the more complex forms and all the increasing artistically-constrained ambiguity.

“I don't disagree with anything in your last paragraph, though I'm also not sure how it relates to the discussion at hand since I didn't really mention entertainment VS learning technical subjects.”

It's just that people grow weary of being preached at, with no feelings of a personal interaction.
In modern times with the internet making all music of all times and cultures immediately accessible we have less reason to worry about kids not having a chance to be exposed to any music; the more pressing issue is one of time and interest. Most people are happy with music being a background soundtrack to their lives and aren't too picky about what that soundtrack is or if there are other options out there they aren't aware of but might like more if they took the time/effort to find it. This is still pretty trivial in the grand scheme of "well-being."

Not sure what you're getting at with the "audiences down through the centuries..." part...

Do you feel anyone is being preached at in this thread? Or are you referring to some other preaching happening elsewhere?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Yes. That's where it's going. So the thing is that when I listen to a Bach fugue or choral fantasia, my mind and standards are being elevated to approach the artistic standard that he is setting. It's in his construction of the music. It's in the music.
No, what's happening when you listen to a Bach fugue or choral fantasia is that you LIKE it, and that like translates to you setting the objective features of the work as the standard by which to judge similar music by. If you listened to that same music and disliked it you would not be setting it as a standard at all. The only reason you would do such a thing (setting as a standard music you dislike) is because you would recognize that other people have done so and you would thus be validating their own reactions and the standards based on them. Standards aren't created based on music nobody likes. There's a reason for that; it's because our subjective liking precedes the standards.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
And so do millions of others. Why? For all the verbiage (no offense), you can't really say.
The "why" is indeed an interesting question, and I addressed that in my original post. Whatever the answer is it's not going to be a simple one, and will undoubtedly involve both the nature of the music itself and the psychology of all the people that listen to and like it. Still, whatever the answer it won't change the fact that standards spring from our subjective liking of music, or even certain aspects of certain of music, even if that liking is in large part caused by the music itself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
It's perplexing that otherwise insightful people continue to talk as if ranking works of art - which are comparable in some respects but not in others, with the latter prevailing - rigidly and definitively in terms of 'great, good, bad, better, best. etc.' is possible or valuable. I suppose such an idea has to be disposed of at some point, but I'd have thought that done a long time ago. The 'best color'? Holy ****! What could that even mean? Is the conversation really still stuck at this primitive level?
I did say the color analogy was an absurd one, but it only served to illustrate the point about the gap between an expert on objective features of a subject and judgments or valuations about that subject. However, I would defend the value (or at least purpose) in rating/ranking things in general as it serves in large part to dictate what art is passed on to future generations. I think it's important despite the fact it all boils down to a fundamental level of subjective likes and dislikes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Just a reminder that it's fallacious that possible differences of opinion disprove the existence of objective values. Well-composed music is well-composed whether any individual can hear that it is or not, and in this universe good composition is a positive value. Mozart's mastery of form and his melodic inventiveness are not up for a vote.
What I'm interested in is whether you can demonstrate the above without reference to any subjective notions such as what we (as individuals, as a collective species, or even as just a community of classical music fans) like and value, because this strike me as saying that money has value regardless of whether anyone thinks it does. If the judgment of "well-composed music" depends upon standards we create based on what we like then it is not (by literal definition) objectively well-composed; If Mozart's "mastery of form and melodic inventiveness" depends upon our standards we create based on what kinds of melodies and forms we like then the judgment of their mastery very much is up for a vote and, in fact, that's all it depends on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
But this is clearly hopelessly unnuanced. Every judgement made by a human is, to some extent, going to be subjective, by definition. Does this render all human judgements entirely subjective? Really?
Even though you weren't responding to me I would give a tentative "yes" to this, though there are nuances. I often like to use the analogy of games because there's less emotional baggage and because the terms are clearly defined. Let's take chess: all of the rules and goals or chess are subjective in the sense that they were invented by human minds (they aren't found in nature, independent of human minds); but once the rules and goals are agreed upon we can "objectively" judge good and bad moves based on how well they accomplish the goal of, first, not losing and, second, checkmating the king and winning.

People take the rules and goals of chess for granted, so it becomes easy to talk about the objective judgments of moves based on those rules/goals (especially in the age of computer-assisted analysis where computers play chess far better than humans can). However, when you deconstruct it it's clear that any notion of objective judgment or valuation is inextricably tied to the rules and goals that were invented by subjective minds and do not, can not, exist without them. So is the evaluation of chess moves "objective?" I'd say yes ONLY if we are taking the rules/goals for granted. To me, what seems to be happening in all of these debates about subjectivity/objectivity in art is that the objectivists are constantly taking for granted all of the subjective machinery that goes into producing the "rules/goals" of art.

This analogy maps almost perfectly onto art, and the differences are in degree rather than kind. As an example, the "rules/goals" of music are nowhere near as clearly defined as they are in chess, and we don't all agree on exactly what they are. We may, to a limited extent, be able to agree on certain fundamentals that apply within a more limited sphere of music--like tonality. We may, to an even more limited extent, be able to establish shared values and standards, especially within smaller communities where we also share similar tastes.

A key difference between chess and music is that any values and standards we create are most fundamentally tied to what we (again, as individuals and as a larger community) like and dislike. This is why statements like "Mozart's mastery of form and his melodic inventiveness are not up for a vote" strike me as absurd because it should be immediately obvious that the only basis we have for judging such a thing is the fact that a lot of people LIKE Mozart's melodies and his usage of form. If most people listened to Mozart and his music didn't trigger in us the subjective feeling of liking it (whatever form that liking takes: pleasure, beauty, emotion, aesthetic, etc.), what objective, mind-independent thing would you point to to argue for it being good? AFAICT, there is no such thing.

This doesn't mean that the objective properties of the music have no role to play in triggering that "liking" effect, and I am extremely interested in understanding what those objective features are. However, you're never, ever going to get to a full understanding of why art effects us as it does without also unraveling all of the subjective, internal, intellectual and emotional and aesthetic cognition that's happening within the human mind that's perceiving the object; and you certainly aren't going to get to an understanding of how standards, evaluations, and judgments arise without that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
One of the things that comes across very strongly in Woodduck's post is the view of the artist. It's one of the reasons why differences of opinion arise in this subject: the amateur consumer (like me), the musicologist, the musician, the composer etc all bring not only different perspectives, but different levels of commitment to certain ideas. I have no investment as an artist; Woodduck has an overwhelming investment as an artist.
I feel like I could pretty easily map Woodduck's artist-centric views on this subject onto the way in which I'm arguing for the "subjectivist" side. To me, what Woodduck says--to take one example--about Mozart's mastery of form and melodic inventiveness could be slightly rephrased to acknowledge the subjectivist side by noting that Mozart's use of form and melody move us (intellectually, emotionally, aesthetically), which then triggers in us the evaluation of his mastery. My only complaint with what he says is that it glosses over this causal chain in which the objective features of the music interacts with our subjective minds and based on the positivity of that interaction we assign values to Mozart and his music.

I do think it's unquestionably true that some artists are more skilled at triggering this causal chain than others are, but this very much goes back to SM's point about polling and such in that what we're talking about is greatness is essentially a poll on how many people have been moved by an artist and their work; and when that poll reaches large enough numbers we easily start taking for granted the subjective component in all of this and simply project our collective internal judgment of greatness onto the object (the artist and their work) itself.

It reminds me a lot of what ET Jaynes coined as the mind-projection fallacy, or the innate human bias to project the contents of our mind onto the objects that trigger the state of mind in us. Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote an article on this using popular "alien invasion" fiction as an example, in which aliens, who would have a completely different evolutionary psychology than our own, would often kidnap beautiful women to breed with. The point was that the authors of such works considered "beauty" an objective feature of the women, something that even aliens would recognize, glossing over the fact that our perception of feminine beauty stems from our own species' unique evolutionary psychology. Here's the full article for anyone interested: Mind Projection Fallacy - LessWrong I think something similar is at work in these types of discussions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Do you think the subjectivity of us human beings is somehow outside the field of science? If there is an agreement on the chess rules, it sure can be researched where, when, why and by whom there rules were invented and what it tells about us humans.

Just saying that there is not a single aspect about chess that could not be studied. Neither is there anything about music that could not be studied or researched. Subjectivity of human beings is nothing mystical outside the reality.
No, I absolutely think human subjectivity is within the field of science, as we know from fields ranging from neuroscience to cognitive science to the more scientifically rigorous forms of psychology. To take a favorite example, I have studied rationality for years and one of the most fascinating developments of recent decades came from the experiments done by people like Daniel Kahneman (who won a Nobel for his work in the field of Economics) that systematically sought to catalog various forms of cognitive biases via those experiments.

One importance to acknowledging subjectivity in fields that require it for the establishing of rules/goals (like chess, or art, or ethics) is that any judgments of right/wrong, good/bad, are relative to those subjectively established rules/goals. This isn't the case for purely objective things. Facts about trees don't depend upon any subjective feelings or thoughts about trees. Trees exist external to the mind and the can be studied with extremely minimal reference to our minds (minimal in the sense that we still need our minds to perceive and study anything). Value judgments and the standards that give rise to them don't exist independently of our minds the way trees do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Precisely. One problem in the conversation is that some people think that anything that involves human mind as a factor is outside objectivity. You know very well that even paychological statistical studies are indeed the field of science.

What would you suggest to clear up and define the terminology used in this conversation?
I'm not sure how many here (subjectivists or objectivists) have suggested that the human mind is outside the realm of scientific inquiry. I think most would acknowledge we can generate objective facts about subjective things (polling is one such example of an objective fact being generated by subjective opinions).

Your question is a good one, and I honestly think your OP is a valiant attempt at defining the terminology moving forward. I don't know what my own attempt would look like, but it would probably have similar features. One difficulty in these discussions is navigating between more piecemeal discussions of nuanced particulars and the broader, more general terms and ideas that break down into those particulars. It can give one a sense of vertigo trying to know which direction to go in as it varies from individual-to-individual based on the level of mutual understanding and agreement on the terminology. Any full account would have to be a thorough bottom-up approach, and I'm not sure that's feasible on a casual forum as opposed to in a more thorough academic setting; but yours was as good an attempt as any I could probably manage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
When I was a graduate student many years ago, I was at one point challenged with writing a piece for orchestra at the same time as being involved in discussions like the one in this thread. As you say composing a symphony is very demanding in many ways, and I found that combining the two activities was something I couldn't handle. A core philosophical challenge was undermining me. In my opinion you are handling a similar challenge very well. But I'd like also to wish you every success with your symphony, and hope this controversy won't be personally discouraging as it was for me.
I'd be curious to know why you find/found such controversies discouraging.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Bad analogy to support your point of view. If whether money has value depended on the subjective whims of a few people that would be one thing, but as long as the value of money depends on the the view of millions upon millions of people and the full faith and credit of the federal government, there is objective evidence that people can count on the value of money for the foreseeable future.

Besides, this kind of analogy is dismissively useless. Classical music would have no value if no one thought it did. Wow, proof of absolute subjectivity!
It's posts like this that lead me to my first post in this thread about people talking past each other with different definitions of the terms being used. I am not limiting my usage of subjective to refer to the "whims of a few people," but to anything dependent upon human minds for meaning or value. Money is a clear example of that because without our social agreement it's literally just worthless pieces of green paper, or numbers in a bank account. It only has value because we agree it does. The only difference with art is that with money there is much less disagreement on its value.

Your second paragraph is even more befuddling. If classical music has no value if no one thought it did, then that is the literal definition of something whose value is subjective--ie, dependent upon human minds to give it value. If that's not proof of "absolute subjectivity" then what is? The objectivists are the ones trying to argue that value is inherent in the music itself and doesn't depend upon opinions or polls of who likes/values what.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
1. If the standards by which music is judged well-composed were created by its listeners, then you would be correct in claiming that no music could be called objectively well-composed. But that isn't what happens. What happens is that composers and listeners share assumptions and expectations of aesthetic form which have evolved and prevail in their common culture, and a composer strives to make effective use of those assumptions and expectations to create a product that delights the minds and engages the emotions of listeners who share the common musical language. It's obvious that Mozart has done this exceptionally well. It's also obvious, to those who are musically knowledgeable or perceptive, that doing it exceptionally well is no easy task. In fact it's so difficult to do it on Mozart's level of skill and inspiration that he has been virtually worshiped as one of the great creative figures in human history.

2. The principles of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic form with which Mozart (and other composers) were working are highly complex. The number of relationships that exist between the notes of, say, Mozart's 40th symphony is enormous, higher than our conscious minds can deal with as we listen to the music, or even Mozart's mind as he composed it. See my post #234. The manner in which those principles came into existence - who developed them and why - is irrelevant to the fact that Mozart had exceptional skill in exploiting them to produce works simultaneously complex, orderly, original, and capable of affecting other people intellectually and emotionally. The evidence that he did this better than his contemporaries is the more obvious the more we understand music, but also clear from the history of his music in performance and in reputation, during and since its appearance.

3. Principles of order in art are not the arbitrary fancies of wandering minds, for the fundamental reason that principles of order in the universe are not optional but essential to the nature of reality itself. Art succeeds, in all cultures everywhere and for all time, in exploiting these principles and embodying them in microcosmic form, thus satisfying the human need for constructive ordering and representation of their lived experience. The forms of art are for all practical purposes limitless, just as life experience is infinitely diverse, but order is the fundamental vehicle of aesthetic comprehensibility and expressiveness. The ability to order the notes, colors or words of an artwork in interesting and moving ways is an exceptional skill which human minds are wired to perceive and appreciate.

I am very, very tired of people who have not engaged in the incredibly demanding process of creating aesthetic order saying that quality in art is "all subjective" That is simply horse pucky.
1. This first point boils down to this: "...a composer strives to make effective use of those assumptions and expectations to create a product that delights the minds and engages the emotions of listeners," which I absolutely agree with; but the sticking point is that we're judging "effective use of assumptions and expectations" precisely by how much they "delight the minds and engage the emotions of listeners." You have just eloquently summed up the subjectivist position: that all judgments and valuations boil down to how the art impacts the minds and emotions of audiences (and I would include other composers as being members of that audience). That's precisely what makes it subjective, the fact that you can't speak about what is good, bad, better, best, or, indeed, what amounts to "effective use of assumptions and expectations" without reference to how the minds of listeners (including composers, who are listeners themselves) think and feel about it.

This does not, I want to stress, minimize or eliminate the role that the objective music itself plays in triggering that response. It's quite clear that some composers/works make music that triggers this "delighting the mind and engaging the emotions" response more frequently and at a more amplified level than others do.

2. "The manner in which those principles came into existence - who developed them and why" may be irrelevant if we're only concerned, as your post indicates, with judging Mozart's skill in exploiting them, and as long as we're basing the judgment of that skill on the effect it has on listeners; however, I would not agree that it is irrelevant to this kind of meta-aesthetic discussion of whether such things are subjective/objective. In fact, I'd say they're very much at the heart of the matter.

3. I don't strongly disagree with much here. I would say that I certainly agree that "principles of order" in the abstract are necessary for any art, even if the "order" in question is the establishing of a context in which art can be randomly generated. However, I would say that the particularities of the principles within any given ordered system are arbitrary to the extent that there can always be OTHER principles guiding creation. As a concrete example, the abstract "hero's journey" form can be found in both the sonata form and in most modern songs: exposition, development, recapitulation just becomes verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus... but both start with the familiar, then have a contrasting section, then back to the familiar. However, the particularities that guide both are different and do, indeed, strike me as arbitrary. There's no reason why, eg, one must utilize harmonic and thematic development ala sonata form beyond the convention to do so and because listeners enjoy it.

As for this:
I am very, very tired of people who have not engaged in the incredibly demanding process of creating aesthetic order saying that quality in art is "all subjective" That is simply horse pucky.
I will say you do not have to worry about this with me as I'm very much someone who has "engaged in the demanding process of creating aesthetic order." This does not mean that I mythologize that endeavor to the point I delude myself about what that process is. The "it's all subjective" isn't a phrase that I have uttered. I understand what Strange Magic means by it, especially when speaking of the fundamental level of how these standards/valuations come about, but I'm trying to present a more nuanced and comprehensive view that takes into account both the subjects (individually and communally) and how the objective aspects of music and art affect and interact with that subjectivity.
 
1 - 20 of 189 Posts
Top