Sibelius, Beethoven, Satie, Debussy
I'm unconvinced that there are "shades of grey". Can we have an example?
Polite is good.Still I choose to be polite, tolerate many kinds of utterances and not over-simplify complicated matters just because it’s easier.
Ay, there's the rub!The problem is your position has little to do with what discussions of aesthetic value are about and how they are conducted and structured in the real world (that is, anywhere but on TC). No one serious about such discussions will make a free-floating claim that a work is objectively great[...]
So the artist effectively sets their own criteria by which their work shall be estimated, usually based on the prevailing aesthetic, though sometimes on a countervailing aesthetic.Good question. The artist sets, accepts, and fulfills (or not) the premises on which the work is based. He doesn't, for the most part, invent those premises - they are largely derived from his culture and profession - but he does, if he's not a mere imitator, find new ways of using those premises and of extending and modifying them. He is then admired for both his ability to grasp and exploit an inherited, common expressive language and for his creative originality.
Well it also depends on the "we", doesn't it. As I thought I'd said earlier, in a post that seems to have disappeared (I'll blame the new website), the "we" might be the many folks who like to compare stuff at TC and come up with endless lists of the greatest. They'd welcome a leg-up with this business, to be able to declare definitively, the top 3, the top tiers, the best Baroque, Handel's operas v Wagner's...you get the idea?That depends on what we mean by "comparative qualities," doesn't it? What do we want to compare, and to what end?
Well, if direct comparison between two works is good enough for Woodduck, it's good enough for me...I think The current discussion is a little more profound than one symphony can be said to be better than another.
Besides, even the most recondite philosophising needs practical exemplification.Good example. We have two operas called Falstaff to compare (and we can throw in Nicolai's Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor as well). Why is Verdi's a masterpiece among comic operas, Nicolai's a pleasant work enjoyed in German- speaking countries but rarely elsewhere, and Salieri's a worthy curiosity which hasn't held the stage and - you can bank on it - never will?
You asked me a question earlier, but to answer it now would seem to turn the discussion back unnecessarily. Instead, I'll just observe that while I'm very happy with these points, not everyone on the 'objective' side of the debate will be.[...]
What is helpful and accurate is to ask what there is about the music that justifies the attribution of greatness to it. One extreme answer to this question is that nothing can justify doing so, that greatness - or any judgment of quality - can never properly be attributed to art, that the nearest we can come to legitimizing such terms is to recognize that an artist has done some specific thing well, while keeping in mind that doing one sort of thing well is just as artistiscally meaningful and impressive as doing any other thing well, and that all other assessments of quality or value are matters of individual or collective taste. Thus a stick man which perfectly renders every feature necessary to a stick man is not artistically inferior to Bernini's David, and is only considered to be so, carelessly, by cultural snobs who think that what the sculptor of the David is doing is more intrinsically interesting or admirable than what the maker of the stick man is doing.
Of course that isn't an explanation, either of why popular music is more popular, or of why classical music's greatest achievements have reached artistic levels considered higher. I'll suggest that opposing popular to classical music is unnecessary and likely to obfuscate things further. There are many categories of music, but the questions at issue apply to all of them.
And that's fine for me too. I join these discussions because when there is someone "wrong" on the internet, I like to put in my two penn'orth. Not because I am wedded to an absolutist, extreme subjective viewpoint which must be asserted, but because I enjoy the opportunity to turn the issue over and test what I think (which includes taking on those who have the "extreme objective viewpoint"). That said, I have my own temporary hierarchy which is simply of works - classical, rock, pop, etc - that have enduring value for me, regardless of what value it has for others. I fully expect that more pop/rock will be played at my funeral than classical, but that suits me - it's not a statement about the relative intrinsic merits of the music.Well, you're really talking to the wrong person. I don't participate in compiling lists and rankings. The only value of such discussions is in the possibility of sharpening our perception and appreciation of things.
I noticed earlier your declaration that as far as you were concerned, you only wanted to refer to CP music. Why? AFAIK, while we might all bring the same two or three tiresome suspects to mind when we talk about CM, none of us is so determined to exclude other eras as you.Speaking only of the CP era music,
That's your interpretation and you're welcome to it. You only have to have attempted to follow the several threads that have discussed what is 'Beauty', or 'Music', or 'Art' to know that such matters are never resolved into a final consensus definition: it's up to us to settle on what serves us best. If this 'clarification' doesn't suit you, that's fine.It is not a clarification but an arbitrary ontological extra status invented to free the listener from any exhausting bindings to the reality. It allows false omnipotency. It is the easy way.
It took me ten seconds to find an exploration of 'art as a human concept' that questionns the investment in objects by an academic - so you don't have to take the word of a stranger on the internet. It doesn't "explain" what Strange Magic has been going on about, it just illustrates that there is a debate out there about what Art is, and it's not settled.It really is an arbitrary and false ontological choice created to allow omnipotency for the listener. It is also an excuse to ignore the reality behind art. It is not a valid choice for anyone, only a handy abstract tool for listeners who want to bath in their own imagined independency.
I don't agree that SM is defining art solely to suit himself. The ontology of Art is hard, but at the end of the day, we can all decide for ourselves what the word means and what art objects should be included or excluded. If all this deciding works for philosophers over the years, there's no reason why we can't do it too.Multiple practical approaches and the absolute freedom of a listener I accept but not fundamental ontological claims motivated solely by convenience of an individual. Ontology is hard science.
SM didn't say this - I did. But the 'it' I was referring to was what SM had posted.Strange Magic said:
"I'm not sure why it's so hard to see it - the difference between an 'art' object and 'art'. Not only did I get it, I find it an entirely helpful clarification."
I think so too, but I suspect that the very notion of 'metrics' is what might be getting in the way of the discussion. If I get Woodduck right, the most important 'metrics' are those chosen by the artist. We should judge the quality of a work by comparing the output with the artist's chosen standards.I don't think the metrics for #2 are perfectly agreed upon, and in fact, I believe the variation in metrics introduces subjectivity.
I'm not going to negate your experience, but I am going to query the conclusion.my experience is that people listen to a new piece of music and then establish whether they like it and, if so, how much. Then, are we to assume that the usual CM listener, or any listener to any genre, then retroactively reviews in their mind why they like it and why therefore they ought to like it? I believe that few enter into hearing a piece of music wondering to themselves whether specific criteria are going to be met and how successfully.
Does this mean that "the objectivists" are not confident, I wonder? Or confident, but not weirdly so? Or...Judging by the likes this post received I'm assuming that either many people (including the poster) think it made a good point, or they're just cheering because "their side" got a jab in at "the other side." If it's the former, though, I can't for the life of me think of what point anyone thinks it made. It seems predicated on the completely false assumption that people who are "subjectivists" about music evaluation are subjectivists about everything. This is clearly not the case. I have made it very clear that I think there is a realm of facts and a realm of things based on opinions and that music evaluation resides in the realm of the latter. There are indeed many things that reside in the realm of the former, and I include in that category discussions on meta-aesthetics that involve the question of whether evaluations are subjective or objective. I believe there is a factual answer to that issue and that "it's fundamentally/ultimately subjective" is the correct answer.
This dichotomy of believing a meta-aesthetic answer is objective but that aesthetic evaluations are subjective would only be "weird" to someone who has no understanding of what my (and other subjectivists') position is.
Maybe - it would seem likely. Even so, if we refer to the BBC Music Magazine Poll I mentioned earlier, there is considerable variation. If Leif Segerstam might be permitted the label, 'expert', his choice of symphonies by Sibelius, Brahms and Mahler is not so wide of the mark, but is nevertheless at variance with the majority view of Beethoven's Eroica. More useful is the comment by Robert Spano, also an 'expert', giving his choice of Mahler's 3rd. His criteria include 'philosophy' and 'an incomparable expression of love'. Kirill Karabits chose Lyatoshynsky's 3rd because it's "the sound of Kiev and Ukraine". Daniel Harding said of Mozart's Jupiter, "It's the ultimate demonstration of the rhetorical gesture."I think experts will have less variation.
Is that likely? I don't see how these thought experiments do anything other than accentuate the absurdity of the 'subjectivist's' apparent position - that anything goes.The Return of Stick Man
A thought experiment. One is transported into a society wherein Stick Man is declared by all experts as being at the pinnacle of art: ("fresh, clean, stark, direct"), whereas a painting by Rembrandt, say, The Rape of Proserpina, is described as dark, muddy, hackneyed. What does one then believe and say?
All in your opinion of course.Herein lies a basic problem with this discussion. I'm picking on you here because you're actually attempting to speak in well-defined terms. It's good to have something besides repetitive rants and self-important bloviation to argue with.
The problem, and my argument with you here? There are no "objectivists," as far as I can determine, who claim that aesthetic meanings and values exist as entities or substances independent of human minds. Arguing against that position is arguing against a belief no one holds.
Art is a product of the mind and is addressed to the mind, and wouldn't exist otherwise. This is obvious. You cite it as proof of the "absolute subjectivity" of aesthetic evaluation and, by implication, of an artist's creative choices. Well, in that philosophically impeccable sense of the term '"subjective," your position is unassailable. But now that we all know the formal definition of "subjective," how can we use it to come to grips with art and the challenges of evaluating it? Are such philosophical proprieties the least bit useful in answering such questions as whether Tristan und Isolde would be a better opera if the lovers lived on, married, and inherited the crown of Cornwall, or whether Beethoven's Fifth Symphony would be improved by the omission, or the elaboration to twice its length, of the oboe solo in the first movement? Practical, mundane, real-life questions - questions about art down and dirty, on the ground where it lives - and critical questions for Wagner and Beethoven as they sat at their pianos struggling with innumerable dilemmas about form and substance, critical for the artistic integrity of their works and, consequently, for the reception and reputation of their works for the rest of time. Did Wagner and Beethoven make the right choices, thus producing great works of art, or should they have chosen differently?
Well, let me answer that question right away so that no one has to remain sunk in the doldrums of philosophical masochism. Wagner and Beethoven made the right choices. [etc]
I regret if I've been condescending; please quote the post.Well in that case it's contempt in response to condescension. I'm comforted to know that Strange Magic and Eva Yojimbo and yourself know more about what motivates my "likes" and the motivation of artists than I do. Anyway, it's getting late, and my guess is this version of Objective vs Subjective Gladiators is running out of steam. And so we await the next thrilling episode.