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If by "understanding" we claim to be able to know and understand why Movement Y--its specific music--follows inexorably Movement X, put me down as a skeptic. I am not talking about the well-understood nature of most genres: for symphonies, fast, slow, schezo-ish, fast, etc. There are certainly many works where themes, melodies are recapitulated in a following movement, or where, as in some program music (Nightride and Sunrise, Pastorale), an idea predictably follows another. Otherwise, I am of the opinion that, for many works, one could use a random-number program to select any given, say, scherzo for any other in the works of any given composer. This is in conflict with a notion that, A) once a composer sets down the first few notes, the rest of the work follows inexorably, or B) unless the composer, as it is sometimes said of Mozart, finds it formed as a complete unit in the composer's mind, with the same conclusion. I will concede B but balk at A. This is different from the composer choosing to generally express certain emotions/impressions in a symphony because an extra-musical message is to be carried by the music--Shostakovich's 5th symphony, or Tchaikovsky's 4th spring to mind.​
 

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I am not sure whether this could be an adequate meaning of "understanding".

Because this meaning assumes tacitly that there is some logic in the piece in a way that the first notes determine the rest of it. (This was part of Celibidache's "understanding" of music, it fits well to some aspects of Bruckner's symphonies, but it also explains why Celibidache didn't condcut Mahler's symphonies ... so this "understanding" can't be universal.)

We have learned that Beethoven's symphonies display such logic. And we have learned to estimate it. However, this is maybe the reason why Schubert's sonatas don't have the same level of appreciation as Beethoven's do. They don't display so easily their logic, they are not drama-oriented, they are lyric, they have some magic which is outside the easy-to-recognize-formal-logic approach. Are Schubert's sonatas worse than Beethoven's? Yes, if you take Beethoven's way of sonata writing as a yardstick. Then Schubert is worse. But the statement also holds vice versa.
Philodor, I am not sure of your meaning. I take your second sentence to mean that, as do I, you believe there is no necessary logic in the unfolding of an entire piece, say, a symphony, from its first few notes--that such logic is not inherent in the work except in the most general sense--fast, slow, fast, etc. Then you say that Beethoven's symphonies display such logic. This is an apparent contradiction, I think. But perhaps I misread you.
 

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Strange magic, thank you for poiting this out!

I think it is about statements applying to all examples and statements applying to single instances.

I understood your statement "If by 'understanding' we claim to be able to know and understand why Movement Y--its specific music--follows inexorably Movement X" in a way that you meant, that understanding a piece is knowing something like the formula of the piece: You enter the first notes into the formula, and the whole piece is the formula's output.

I think that there pieces that are constructed this way - at least. to some extent -, but there are also pieces, for which such formula does not exist. For the latter ones, your statement "If by 'understanding' we claim to be able to know and understand why Movement Y--its specific music--follows inexorably Movement X" does not apply, does it?
I think we still are not entirely clear. I will be direct. Except with the broad general instances that I pointed out--fast, slow, fast, or programmatic music, or extra-musically-charged music, there is no necessary logic why one note should follow another. There is only the will of the composer and of the degree to which he is following the expectation/denial template described by Leonard Meyer that one note will follow another, or, in the possible case of a Mozart, the work springs full-blown and intact from his brain. Do you agree?
 

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I fully agree.

However, from your first posting I got the impression, that your definition of "understanding a piece" relies on the assumption that such logic always existed.

So I was wrong?
I think I agree with your resonance formulation in that the performer forms a resonant bond with his/her interpretation of a composer's piece. And maybe that resonant bond will itself resonate with the listener (some listener or listeners). I think that is at the heart of why we prefer certain "interpretations" of certain pieces. As one example, I never found anyone's version of the Ravel Left Hand Concerto as satisfying as Samson Francois' rendering--and we all have such understanding. However, this phenomenon may be largely due to early imprinting and then repeated listening, and is "understanding" in a more defined and restricted sense, closely aligned with appreciation.
 

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Do you really think that a (any) statement about music or musical works in general can be true or valid? I will be direct: Some works have inexorable logic, others don't. And Meyer's ideas about meaning in music were interesting in their day but haven't led to any productive theory of musical meaning in general.
"Some works have inexorable logic." A bold assertion indeed. And only an assertion. Leonard Meyer's analysis remains as valid today as when he formulated it. That is my assertion, but I suggest respectfully that you look up several articles and reviews of Meyer's work, including his NYTimes obit, and you see that, while dead, he is very much alive. Sort of like Bach.
 

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Not bold at all. It's been argued and demonstrated in numerous analyses that anyone with the necessary theory background can read for themselves. Virtually all trained theorists take this for granted.

I was at Meyer's farewell talk at a joint meeting of the AMS and SMT. Much of his legacy is the students he trained, many of whom were there to honor him. His principal theory in Emotion and Meaning in Music hasn't been anywhere near the cutting edge of musical theory or aesthetics for fifty years. Old hat. Virtually no one cites it because its insights have been framed more comprehensively in later work. The idea of defied expectations and their role in expressiveness and meaning has been subsumed into later theories of musical semiotics via the concept of markedness. This is perhaps best explained in Robert Hatten's Musical Meaning in Beethoven. Most people in theory and musical aesthetics in Meyer's day didn't have the cross disciplinary training to realize they were reinventing old wheels long spun in other fields.
Do you really think that a (any) statement about music or musical works in general can be true or valid? I will be direct: Some works have inexorable logic, others don't. And Meyer's ideas about meaning in music were interesting in their day but haven't led to any productive theory of musical meaning in general.
Despite your lengthy answer to my reply to your first post, I again assert that your assertion that some music has inexorable logic to be undemonstrable without recourse to the most convoluted theorizing. Euclid's proof of the non-existence of a largest prime is ruddered by inexorable logic. The fact that musical "experts" utter such nonsense perhaps is why some of them are not held in high repute.

Regarding Meyer, you yourself have testified as to his enduring influence and legacy. Hutton is dead, but lives. Darwin is dead, but lives. Einstein is dead, but lives. These provide the very foundation (among others) for today's researchers.
 

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^^^^@Eva Yojimbo: Put me down as beyond skepticism regarding the "inexorable logic" of certain pieces of music. The assertion, IMO, is absurd on its face. Do literature and film demonstrate inexorable logic? If so, we must contort and deform ordinary meaning in order to accommodate this new and strange use of the term. I am reminded of a YouTube clip showing Deepak Chopra learnedly expounding upon quantum physics before a college audience and then being asked a question from the floor. The questioner turns out to be a physicist specializing in quantum physics, who states that he understands each word that Chopra uttered about QP but that the sentence in which the words were embedded he could not understand at all.
 

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I think that's a problem with a lot of these threads. Heavy on the philosophizing, light on the "musical".
I don't think music experts such as musicologists or teachers of theory are held in low esteem, certainly no more so than psychoanalysts or sociologists.
An excellent comparison pooling music experts in with psychoanalysts and sociologists. That speaks for itself. I would be more receptive to a discussion of the evolution of a musical idea or piece if the bizarre term "inexorable logic" was replaced by something defensible. The use of the term invites profound skepticism, and I wonder at its evocation--is it to foreclose questioning by issuing a pronunciamento?
 

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A stretto by its nature is going to be so.
It's a question of the appropriate algorithm.
This is a tautology. A stretto is a stretto in the sense that a fugue is a fugue. If someone sets out to write a stretto or a fugue and doesn't, then the so-called logic is broken. There is no information here.
 

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Maybe it's unfounded, but I fear you haven't gone much beyond "I like/don't like".
Deal, please, with the issue. I will be happy to assert that if a composer chooses to develop a fixed and rigid algorithm to generate notes on a page, then by definition the logic is inexorable and likely of little interest to anyone. This makes "inexorable logic" very poor stuff indeed as applying to anything other than the running of a computer program.
 

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It is clear to me that the phrase "inexorable logic" is now going to be narrowly defined to cover those aspects of musical composition wherein a composer constructs or otherwise follows--slavishly, robotically--a preset template or algorithm for putting notes to paper like a pencil-making machine makes pencils, The mind is on cruise control, the gears turn, the pistons move back and forth as the machinery grinds on until the program deems the section finished. This is a very far cry from the torments that we are told composers subject themselves to in trying to find just the correct note to follow another. I think such inexorable logic may, in fact, be operative if the composer is writing a long ostinato passage where unchanging repetition is desired. In that case the concept of inexorable logic has indeed carved out a tiny kingdom for itself and all, like myself, who like a bit of ostinato (Sibelius) can be grateful. Perhaps all this verbiage could have been eliminated had the first user of the term at the outset provided us with some sort of definition or explanation of what they had in mind. Perhaps one will be forthcoming.
 

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My use of "the term" (the adjective?) was constrained. I said some works have an inexorable logic in how they unfold. You are claiming this isn't so? You understand that by contradicting my statement, you are asserting that no musical works exhibit inexorable logic, right? By contrast to my clearly constrained statement, that is an unconstrained blanket assertion.
See Post #111--I think you missed it. All is revealed there. Your use of inexorable cried out for explanation, clarification from the outset. And did not receive it. You reap what you sow.
 

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Another tempest in a teapot over something that most people would probably say, ‘What’s the big deal?’ For a start, the word ‘inexorable’ has various definitions, one of them being ‘relentless’. Personally, I find a ‘relentless logic’ in a number of Bach works and a work such as the Beethoven Grosse Fugue.
Clearly not a tempest in a teapot if you find it worthy of comment.;) I have a notion that words have meanings--maybe more than one--and that one should pin down one's intended meaning when one uses a charged adjective like Inexorable. When we write ocelot or tube, we have a fairly unambiguous picture in our minds. I do anyway.
 

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So you don't agree either. What's the opposite of inexorable?
Exorable definition
eksərəbəl
That can be persuaded or moved by pleas.
Capable of being moved or persuaded.

DaveM told us that there were several definitions of inexorable, which were close enough to be essentially synonymous. But if we need to carefully parse the several meanings of inexorable, it is incumbent upon the initial user to exactly indicate which of the several he had in mind. Simple.
 

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No it isn’t well known. A good debater keeps arguments succinct. Many words to respond to a simple claim or argument indicates an insecurity of position and an attempt to filibuster.
One hell of a "simple" claim or argument. As far as insecurity of position is concerned, pot calleth kettle....... Now we're into psychobabble and questioning motives. All I ever wanted was a clear, succinct statement about what was meant by "inexorable logic" in the context of the discussion. Perhaps you will supply it.
 

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Please refrain from personal comments about other members or their posting style. Focus on the content of their posts.

Anyway, it does seem to me that the term "inexorable logic" has been used to mean somewhat different things and that perhaps there is less conflict of opinion than suggested by the past few pages.
Perhaps less conflict, but if we only could be told clearly what the poster intended. I take it to mean a relentless, pitiless working out of a predetermined algorithm or the exact following of an unalterable template. Robotic; machine-like. But we may never know.....
 

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The most recent posts by Luchesi and dissident can be waved aside easily as what they believe are short coups de grace and are indicative of the growing poverty of their positions (if they can be so humored). Luchesi retreats into his usual arcane "professionalism", wondering yet again why or how anybody who is not a trained or professional musician can conceivably have a legitimate relationship to CM--a variant of Milton Babbittry.

dissident has retreated again into revealing psychobabble and supercilious disdain. It seems a habit.

EdwardBast retreats into telling us all that "any dictionary" will tell us what the term "inexorable logic" can cover regarding music. This is meant to be enlightening. A squid's ink cloud sort of tells others roughly, vaguely, where the squid is, but its actual location remains literally shrouded in mystery. I despair of getting a clear exposition.

None of the above attitudes, in my opinion, do classical music any good at all.

mmsbls, are you fully satisfied that the discussion of "inexorable logic" has clarified anything?
 
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