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I can't agree with anything in your post, as you fall hook, line and sinker for the essentialism fallacy. A dischcloth can be defined both as a concept and as a piece of absorbent fabric of a certain size. Art can be defined as a concept only. Art has no necessary and sufficient attributes. You can say, music is always sound, but not all sound is music (unless you believe John Cage). So sound is a necessary, but not a sufficient, attribute of music.

You seem to assume art has a definable purpose. Many, like Kennick, argue that art has no purpose. I think art has a sociological purpose. It is a celebration of our humanity, but we have many different ways of doing that. That is why art, and great art, can never be defined with objective criteria. Living in a certain society at a certain time and place, and with a certain experience and education in our lives, we have our own particular aesthetic values and conventions, so we know what art, and great art, is for us. That doesn't mean it has objective attributes that apply to anyone, anywhere at any time.

I also think that celebrating, recognizing and respecting our humanity helps us live together, which we need to do as social animals. I see that as art's purpose. I also think Prof. Kennick might agree with that, but he waves of "sociology" as not worthy of his time and consideration. He was a rigorous logician, not a sentimentalist.
I don't think I do, and indeed I think I pretty much agree with you about the art stuff. I don't violently disagree anyway.

I suspect you are missing what I am seeking to get across because you are not sufficiently interested in dishcloths.

I don't agree with you that a piece of absorbent fabric of a certain size is a dishcloth objectively. I think that it is only a dishcloth because a thinking entity regards it as such. According to the dictionary a dishcloth is "a cloth for washing dishes", which is correct. A false definition of dishcloth, and not the dictionary definition, is " a cloth which could be used for washing dishes". You might have two identical pieces of fabric in your house. One of them you use for washing dishes: that is the dishcloth. Another you use for wiping surfaces: that is the cleaning cloth. They might go into your washing machine and you swap them round by accident. Your dishcloth is now the one which used to be your cleaning cloth, and vice versa. It is not intrinsic to the object that it is "dishcloth" by its very self: it is "dishcloth" because you regard it as such. Anyone else visiting your house would likely agree with you, too, because your dishcloth is sitting by your washing up bowl, and your cleaning cloth is sitting on top of a spray container of surface cleanser. Oh, and the old cloth that used to be the dishcloth is now outside in your shed as your bike cloth which you use for getting mud off your bike.

Similarly sounds are music because they are regarded as such. We must, though, have a reason why we regard those sounds as music, whereas other sounds we don't. That's an interesting question (but don't let's get back into 4'33" territory). Let's suppose we have some way of defining which sounds are music.

If I define music as something which no one else thinks of that way, then fine. I either tell people what my definition is and they just think I'm a bit weird and move on, or I refuse to tell them (in which case I have Wittgenstein's beetle in my box) so they think I'm weird and move on. In neither case do they accept my meaning for the word: as it is just weird. In any real situation, therefore, we must attempt some sort of definition of music which we can agree for the word to mean anything. It might be a bit easier with a dishcloth, but the point is no different. We are using a word so we must have a go at agreeing what it means. We end up with some sort of definition of music, just as we do for dishcloth, and we generally refer to a dictionary for this sort of stuff.

As far as purposes go, I am with you: I think that music has a purpose, because I think that everything people do has a purpose (with the possible exception of things resulting from mental health problems) - and certainly anything which has the amount of effort devoted to it that music does. I don't think it has a readily definable purpose, though. I agree with you that music has a sociological purpose (probably several different ones), and I also suspect that it has more individualistic purposes (if you can regard such purposes as not sociological).

In summary, I think I am pretty much in agreement with you about art. I am disagreeing with you about dishcloths. And I am pretty much uninterested in the objective/subjective thing.
 

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I'd like to hear (from the people who personally and unshakably "like" pop music) what they're talking about and what they find equally valuable in it compared to the great achievements in CM.
Some posts have probably already given specifics, but I haven't seen them. It's (long) seemed to me to be an odd stance in a CM forum.
 

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I don't either, most of the time. But I do listen to hip-hop very closely. You have to, otherwise you can't follow the lyrics, which is the whole point.

The assumptions expressed here about the superiority of classical music based on a superficial knowledge of other genres is not really surprising, but is still disturbing.
On the lyrics, I don't listen to songs much or opera or choral music. If I do, I prefer it to be in a language I don't understand. I just prefer to keep music in one box, and poetry or prose in another. I suppose I don't usually like the music to be connected to other things by means of words.

In terms of listening style, I do frequently sit and listen while not doing anything else, and I don't like to listen to parts of pieces. I will definitely only put a piece of music on if I think I have the time to be able to get to the end before doing something else. As a result, I don't often listen to Mahler (for example).

On superiority, I've tried not to fall into that camp, while suggesting that it may be possible to assess greatness (fairly objectively :eek:) within a sufficiently well-defined category of music.
 

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I'd like to hear (from the people who personally and unshakably "like" pop music) what they're talking about and what they find equally valuable in it compared to the great achievements in CM.
Some posts have probably already given specifics, but I haven't seen them. It's (long) seemed to me to be an odd stance in a CM forum.
It's a different mode of listening. A lot of the pop I like is basically just dance music, for instance (I'm not a huge pop ballad fan, as a rule), and that kind of music you listen to for completely different reasons than classical music.

It feels silly to analyze it on a deep level- sometimes things just make you want to shake your body.

e) oh yeah, also pop surprisingly has extremely inventive production. that's something that didn't get much credit for a long time- there was a big 90s backlash against "fakeness" and synths et al, but listen to something like Prince's "Kiss" and the sparseness of the beat is just remarkable- nothing else sounded like that when it was released. The importance of production sometimes results in accusations that the music is impersonal, constructed, or "fake"- and if that's true to an extent, music production is absolutely a serious discipline which requires skill.
 

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I'd like to hear (from the people who personally and unshakably "like" pop music) what they're talking about and what they find equally valuable in it compared to the great achievements in CM.
Some posts have probably already given specifics, but I haven't seen them. It's (long) seemed to me to be an odd stance in a CM forum.
It seems to me that you could say:

(A) There is no such thing as great classical music and there is no such thing as great pop music
(B) There is no such thing as great classical music but there is such a thing as great pop music
(C) There is such a thing as great classical music but there is and no such thing as great pop music
(D) There is such a thing as great classical music and there is such a thing as great pop music

I am in Camp (D). I am more interested in classical music, but it doesn't seem to me that there can't be great examples of something that doesn't interest me.

Positions (B) and (C) seem to me to be potentially problematic. It seems unlikely to me that if we accept that there can be great CM in CM terms then we will not find that there can be great PM in PM terms. Same the other way round.

I don't mind (A) as long as people are not holding it just because there are concerned that to abandon it might lead to (C), and adopting extreme definitions of the words in order to rule that out, so ending up at (A).

By the way, I think Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is a great song. Is that pop enough? I am interested when songs are covered a lot. I saw Leonard perform a few years before he died: he was great, and Sharon Robinson did an exquisite version of Alexandra Leaving.
I think Physical Graffiti is a great rock album. Discuss.
 

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It's a different mode of listening. A lot of the pop I like is basically just dance music, for instance (I'm not a huge pop ballad fan, as a rule), and that kind of music you listen to for completely different reasons than classical music.

It feels silly to analyze it on a deep level- sometimes things just make you want to shake your body.
I really like the deep yearning effect that Diane Warren crafts into her songs. Don't Want To Miss A Thing and How Do I Live. Our singer was too young to hear these growing up, but now she can really belt them out. They suit her powerful and unique-sounding voice (Steven Tyler is her idol for his affected stylings. BTW, Elton's voice is overblown according to her. I find it difficult to follow her thinking, but she is very good.).
 

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I'd like to hear (from the people who personally and unshakably "like" pop music) what they're talking about and what they find equally valuable in it compared to the great achievements in CM.
Some posts have probably already given specifics, but I haven't seen them. It's (long) seemed to me to be an odd stance in a CM forum.
First I don't think the label "pop music" is useful; it covers too large of a swathe of music. Instead I will talk about three specific genres: jazz, blues, and old time Appalachian music.

Jazz. The valuable aspects of jazz are found in the creativity and ingenuity in the improvised solos as well as collective playing. Jazz has a history, different periods, each with their own sound and attributes. I am a big fan of the early New Orleans jazz since it incorporates collective improvisation as well as the playing is rooted in melodic embellishment, and the blues; and is where swing originated. It is easy to take for granted a Louis Armstrong. But Louis Armstrong might be seen as a kind of Mozart in jazz. He took those established stylistic attributes and brought them to a high point for the period of the 20s and 30s.

I just spoke of one musician from one period, but within each period that followed jazz became more and more concerned with the artistry available in the style.

Blues. Blues is another vernacular music which draws on ancient antecedents such a field hollers and some vestigal African influences. It is modal music with microtonal melodic inflections which confound conventional notation. But the blues served also a cultural function, as does all African music, a social function in the community. It is the music which the African American people coming out of slavery created to transcend that experience. It is a complex music based on humble materials but out of them a rich, complex and very expressive music was created. The 12-bar form can be seen as a kind of call and response style, with the first two lines repeated and then the answer line. The same kind of form a sonnet expresses, or a haiku.

The blues may sound like its about sadness but it is really joyous music - triumphing over oppression with humor and song.

Old Time Appalachian Music. The roots of Appalachian music date back to the 15th century Scottish, Irish and English folk ballads. The Child collection numbers over 300 songs all of which traveled across the Atlantic with the immigrants from those countries. This music has survived for hundreds of years sometimes in variants but each variant has the same old source. This music also has a communal function. Long before phonographs, radio, and television, families would sing together and pass down the music from generation to generation. Much like blues it is a vernacular music with some of the same stylistic attributes. And this is no accident since while the mountain families had no slaves, they often lived in close proximity, and music acts as a universal language bridging cultural distances. This music pays high dividends for time spent with it. It is a rich depository of music which formed the basis for several other important genres.

I listen to these three genres a lot, as well as others, and respond to its depth and creativity no differently than I do when I listen to classical music.
 

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Blues. Blues is another vernacular music which draws on ancient antecedents such a field hollers and some vestigal African influences. It is modal music with microtonal melodic inflections which confound conventional notation. But the blues served also a cultural function, as does all African music, a social function in the community. It is the music which the African American people coming out of slavery created to transcend that experience. It is a complex music based on humble materials but out of them a rich, complex and very expressive music was created. The 12-bar form can be seen as a kind of call and response style, with the first two lines repeated and then the answer line. The same kind of form a sonnet expresses, or a haiku.

The blues may sound like its about sadness but it is really joyous music - triumphing over oppression with humor and song.
I've read that the 'call and response' structure of traditional blues originated from slaves in adjacent fields calling and responding to each other. By the time Ella Fitzgerald did her blues album (though she primarily is known as a jazz singer) Bluella: Ella Sings the Blues, the blues had been adapted by and absorbed into other popular music traditions.

I think ultimately the traditional blues made a strong comeback thanks to the emergence of the modern electric guitar and the important contributions to its development by Les Paul, though he didn't invent it as many seem to assume. Les Paul and Mary Ford made the great 1955 album, "Bye Bye Blues". After Les Paul came major blues electric guitar superstars like B.B. King, Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc. Of course, the modern electric guitar is the king of microtonal instruments. Thanks to blues (and gospel) derived rock 'n' roll, the blues became major influences on American and then worldwide popular music. Eventually, Eric Clapton made a whole album of Robert Johnson songs, just as a classical pianist would record Beethoven piano sonatas.

All of that shows how a single, 'humble' popular music genre can evolve in so many ways and have such a profound influence on all sorts of musical styles, and ultimately become a classical tradition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #949 ·
Pop music emphasizes a number of values that classical music listeners -- especially the conservative ones -- don't usually care about as much.

One of the best examples is innovative instrumentation. Of course there are traditionalists who still want to play acoustic music the way it might have been played a century ago, but there are also a lot of people who are constantly tinkering with electronics and computers and so on to try to create a sound that no one has ever heard before, and then figure out how to use it. That is an entire field of creativity that most of us don't care about at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #950 · (Edited)
I don't know where this interview goes yet, so I'm not endorsing any views, I just thought there was a moment at 1:10 that everyone here will be happy to see:


For some reason I can't get it to start at 1:10 for you, so... well, that's 70 seconds.
 

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I don't know where this interview goes yet, so I'm not endorsing any views, I just thought there was a moment at 1:10 that everyone here will be happy to see:


For some reason I can't get it to start at 1:10 for you, so... well, that's 70 seconds.
Why does it ever matter what people prejudge this way or that? Does it ever matter in any other technical subject? I can't think of an example..
 

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In response to the OP, I sought some further information about 'objectivity' and 'subjectivity' and found a useful website the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. On objectivity - https://iep.utm.edu/objectiv/#SH2b

I found the paragraph on 'intersubjectivity' interesting

b. Does Agreement Among Subjects Indicate Objective Knowledge?
Measurement is allegedly a means to reach objective judgments, judgments having at least a high probability of expressing truth regarding objective reality. An objective judgment regarding the weather, in contrast to the competing subjective descriptions, would describe it as, say, 20°C (68°F). This judgment results from use of a measuring device. It is unlikely that the two perceiving subjects, using functioning thermometers, would have differing judgments about the outside air.

The example of two people giving differing reports about the weather (e.g., "chilly" vs. "pleasant") illustrates that variation in different subjects' judgments is a possible indicator of the subjectivity of their judgments. Agreement in different subjects' judgments (20°C) is often taken to be indicative of objectivity. Philosophers commonly call this form of agreement "intersubjective agreement." Does intersubjective agreement prove that there is objective truth? No, because having two or three or more perceiving subjects agreeing, for example, that it is very cold does not preclude the possibility of another perceiving subject claiming that it is not at all cold. Would we have a high likelihood of objective truth if we had intersubjective agreement among a large number of subjects? This line of reasoning seems promising, except for another observation from Locke about the possible discrepancies between subjective impressions and objective reality.
Whether this helps the oft-advanced argument that a piece of music's goodness or greatness can be regarded as objective reality if enough people claim this to be the case is another matter.

(Please accept my apologies if someone already posted a link to this source. There are other helpful sources, such as the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy).
 

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In response to the OP, I sought some further information about 'objectivity' and 'subjectivity' and found a useful website the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. On objectivity - https://iep.utm.edu/objectiv/#SH2b

I found the paragraph on 'intersubjectivity' interesting

Whether this helps the oft-advanced argument that a piece of music's goodness or greatness can be regarded as objective reality if enough people claim this to be the case is another matter.

(Please accept my apologies if someone already posted a link to this source. There are other helpful sources, such as the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy).
Scores are comprised of objective facts from music theory. Knowledgeable people can rank scores higher or lower according to their level of human achievement. A pop song will be ranked lower than a famous piece by Beethoven. How far can we extend this? I don't think that matters, because the concepts for comparisons are reliable and repeatable.

Of course people who love music can continue to maintain that they don't care about this. For whatever their reasons are..
 

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A common thought experiment is to consider the statements "the world is flat" and "the world is round". Both statements are objectively untrue (the world is not *literally* round, as in a perfect sphere) but unless one wants to be a total pedant, or are in a context where this kind of literal accuracy is important, taking the viewpoint that the world is round as true is more useful to us than the "objective" viewpoint in virtually all cases.

In terms of art, I think this comes back to the complaint that the denial of objective quality means we can't make value judgments at all. We can come up with all sorts of frameworks-like consensus, historical influence, or personal opinion to say that the Choral Symphony is a "great work". But I think we do need to get more comfortable with the idea that we can't confuse any of these things that we use to symbolize or model "greatness" as an objective definition for it. (and unlike saying the world is round, you'll have a far harder time creating a model of "greatness" that all can agree on versus a model of "roundness" that includes the shape of the earth)
 

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Scores are comprised of objective facts from music theory. Knowledgeable people can rank scores higher or lower according to their level of human achievement. A pop song will be ranked lower than a famous piece by Beethoven. How far can we extend this? I don't think that matters, because the concepts for comparisons are reliable and repeatable.

Of course people who love music can continue to maintain that they don't care about this. For whatever their reasons are..
Why are you talking about scores? Most of the music in the world doesn't have a score, never needed one, and never intended to construct one since it is superfluous.

Music from different genres cannot be compared since one genre has specific attributes and priorities which are often missing entirely or irrelevant to another genre. So then, what are we comparing? Usually it is that a musical example of a non-Classical genre is lousy as Classical music.

Which is a pointless statement steeped in bias.
 

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It's strange because in most cases I can think of, "human achievement" isn't located in the score - it's located in historically informed views on how influential certain works were in the scheme of artistic history. The Eroica certainly had a more significant influence on the history of art than a random pop song, and we might be able to prove this with historical research.

The mistake is confusing this model for "greatness" as an objective definition of greatness. It isn't.
 

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It's strange because in most cases I can think of, "human achievement" isn't located in the score - it's located in historically informed views on how influential certain works were in the scheme of artistic history. The Eroica certainly had a more significant influence on the history of art than a random pop song, and we might be able to prove this with historical research.

The mistake is confusing this model for "greatness" as an objective definition of greatness. It isn't.
I am not sure a symphony by Beethoven was more influential than a song by The Beatles. Only that the specifics of the community that was influenced were different.

My position has always been that there is no one set of criteria to assess quality or value of a work of art or music, especially when they are separated by centuries, and/or style, and/or genre. Inevitably a bias will seep in which skews the assessment in favor of the preferred music/art of the one doing the judging.
 

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In response to the OP, I sought some further information about 'objectivity' and 'subjectivity' and found a useful website the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. On objectivity - https://iep.utm.edu/objectiv/#SH2b

I found the paragraph on 'intersubjectivity' interesting

Whether this helps the oft-advanced argument that a piece of music's goodness or greatness can be regarded as objective reality if enough people claim this to be the case is another matter.

(Please accept my apologies if someone already posted a link to this source. There are other helpful sources, such as the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy).
Yes, and two things I raised earlier in this thread are germane: First, the empiricist's approach to evaluating art reflected in the writings of 18th century British philosopher David Hume, especially his essay Of The Standard Of Taste. Essentially, Hume says the judgment of history, or of public opinion over time, establishes artistic merit. That any other method is little more than a fool's errand is nicely demonstrated in a famous 1956 essay by Morris Weitz entitled The Role Of Theory In Aesthetics (others have made a similar point, but he states it very well). The idea that art can be identified and evaluated by objective, quantifiable attributes is referred to as the "essentialist fallacy".

Modern empiricists have come up with the term "intersubjectivity" to describe phenomena related to group or social consensus.
 

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I am not sure a symphony by Beethoven was more influential than a song by The Beatles. Only that the specifics of the community that was influenced were different.

My position has always been that there is no one set of criteria to assess quality or value of a work of art or music, especially when they are separated by centuries, and/or style, and/or genre. Inevitably a bias will seep in which skews the assessment in favor of the preferred music/art of the one doing the judging.
Well I mentioned a random pop song, not The Beatles. That model also has an obvious problem where judging greatness in this manner leaves us with almost no way to evaluate contemporary music which hasn't had time to be influential.

Certainly a lot of listeners are attracted to works which had enormous impact on art, and that can leave them uncomfortable when that framework doesn't work for new works.
 

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Well I mentioned a random pop song, not The Beatles. That model also has an obvious problem where judging greatness in this manner leaves us with almost no way to evaluate contemporary music which hasn't had time to be influential.

Certainly a lot of listeners are attracted to works which had enormous impact on art, and that can leave them uncomfortable when that framework doesn't work for new works.
There is no way around that. If you are interested in what's brand new, you'll have to be willing to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. Hence the appeal of curated museums, drawbacks though they have.
 
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