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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.
You used a specific Beethoven symphony, so I just offered a specific Pop song.

You are right that we cannot assess contemporary music since the test of time has not accrued. I am not sure who these uncomfortable people are, or if it is important whether they are uncomfortable or not.

I'm not uncomfortable with new music, some of which I like and some not. But then again, I am not concerned with assessing greatness, period.
 

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From a dispassionately logical view, a composer who didn't intend to create advanced music for the advancement of the art, he didn't succeed.

Maybe he did by accident? It's a mysterious basket of extremes, so it might happen occasionally. But IMO exceptions don't disprove the rule.

Exactly as in science, I want to hear what's important from the knowledgeable people. I think most people do. Popularity contests are noteworthy for changing over time (quite humorously).
 

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From an article by Kyle Gann, by the way, regarding the different frameworks we might view music through -

For instance: there are people for whom the best music must involve innovation. These people are likely to value Varese, Partch, Cage. There are others who value craftsmanship above all else. These people tend to like Hindemith, Sessions, perhaps Ligeti. Other people feel that music should be, above all else, emotionally true; perhaps they gravitate toward Barber, Vaughan Williams, maybe Messiaen. There are people who love music for its sonic lushness and sensuousness, who may relish Takemitsu and Feldman. There are people who value clarity, who value simplicity, who value intellectualism, who value memorability, who value physicality, who value theoretical rigor. Most people value several of these virtues, and we could create Venn diagrams of audiences who love different new musics because of the specific virtues they possess.

[...]

Where subjectivity comes in is that there is no objective criterion by which we can proclaim that craftsmanship is a higher virtue than innovation or sensuousness. We just can't. One type of personality will value the careful, revising craftsman over the visionary innovator who comes up with something radically new, and that's what makes horseraces. There is no way to objectively rank the artistic virtues. They are too closely allied to the structure of personality. Where objectivity comes in is in determing what innovation or craftsmanship is. Say you love innovation but don't believe Varese was innovative? Good luck. I want to read the treatise proving your point, but if it doesn't grab me in three sentences I'm trashing it. We can prove on paper that Varese was an amazing innovator, whether that impresses you or not. I happen not to care much for Varese because, for me, innovation is kind of wasted if the music doesn't grab me emotionally, and his doesn't; but I grant he was innovative. You think Crumb is a better composer than Sessions? You have my blessing. You think Crumb was a better craftsman than Sessions? You're an idiot. If there was a virtue that Sessions nailed to the floor immovably and for all time, it was craftsmanship. Maybe lacking in spontaneity, lacking in originality, in imagination, in goal-directedness, in sensuouness, arguably, but craftsmanship? If craftsmanship means anything in music, Sessions had it in spades. We can argue whether Partch's music shows good craft, and give examples; that's a still partially subjective but more limited and rational dispute than whether he was a "good composer."

[...]

There are people for whom depth is the major musical virtue - and by depth in this context I mean not profundity per se, but the ability of music to reveal more and more layers of meaning on repeated hearings. Depth is certainly a virtue. Many people use this virtue to prize classical music above popular music. I have often had the experience, though, of listening to a pop record and not really appreciating it the first time, but having it grow on me more and more. I've had that experience with pop music as often as I've had it with classical music. Many people who push this virtue use it to prop up the reputation of complex music. But in the early 1980s I turned off a recording of Carter's Double Concerto on what must have been my 75th listening with the score precisely because of that: I wasn't getting any more out of it than I had at the last ten listenings. I had milked it dry. It wasn't yielding anything else.

[...]

The last time I listened closely to Beethoven's Appassionata sonata, I savored it, but I don't really think I found anything I hadn't heard ten years ago. Satie is one of my favorites and I find him extremely profound, but I don't think I'll hear things in Embryons Dessechees the next time I hear it that I haven't noticed before. What's important to me is that I can keep listening to a piece without growing tired of it.
https://www.kylegann.com/PC090806-EpistemologyofElitism.html
 

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Certain people seem irresistibly drawn to the question of whether value judgments in art have validity. There are probably different reasons for being drawn to it, but one of them seems to be a deep-seated need to debunk the valuations of others, or escape any criticism of their own valuations. On the deeper psychology of that I shall remain silent.

If we simply remember that all value judgments imply a presumption of certain criteria - that they all ask, implicitly, in what respect something is good or bad, better or worse - we can avoid the bombastic nonsense that ensues when people protest that they can't find "greatness" in Beethoven's 5th.
 

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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.
I don't follow this at all, but insofar as I can't make sense of it, I fail to see how scores can be ranked except in simplistic factual terms ("This score has the most pages / dotted crochets / greatest number of passages marked 'diminuendo'" etc)

Obviously, on such useless criteria, pop music, which is often scoreless, is likely to score lower than Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. So what?

From an article by Kyle Gann, by the way, regarding the different frameworks we might view music through -

[...] Where subjectivity comes in is that there is no objective criterion by which we can proclaim that craftsmanship is a higher virtue than innovation or sensuousness. We just can't.[...]

https://www.kylegann.com/PC090806-EpistemologyofElitism.html
Precisely so. The more I listen to Beethoven's symphonies and compare with others, the more it is the energy and dramatic insistence that what he has to 'say' (musically speaking - I don't mean there is a literal message) is the most important ever, and that's why he's grabbed me by the lapels and is shaking me. No other symphonist does quite the same thing. In fact, he's just reminded me of the Ancient Mariner.

It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.

'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,

Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,

And I am next of kin;

The guests are met, the feast is set:

May'st hear the merry din.'

He holds him with his skinny hand,

'There was a ship,' quoth he.

'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'

Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye-

The Wedding-Guest stood still,

And listens like a three years' child:

The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:

He cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner.

[...]

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43997/the-rime-of-the-ancient-mariner-text-of-1834
 

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There is no way to objectively rank the artistic virtues.
Amen, Mr. Gann. But with all due respect to him and his intelligent observations, I made the same point earlier in this thread, or at least tried to, and did so without calling anyone an idiot. He mentions Roger Sessions, and I mentioned another supremely skilled craftsman: Max Reger.
 

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From an article by Kyle Gann, by the way, regarding the different frameworks we might view music through -

https://www.kylegann.com/PC090806-EpistemologyofElitism.html
Thanks. I learned about how people might be thinking about this. What people prefer, different aspects being more important to some than others.

The prioritizing in science, in economics, in sociology isn't done like this, but maybe musical aesthetics is THAT different.
 
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