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Hard to address this issue without a clarification of what each term means, but here's my attempt. I'd say there are many elements which one can understand about any piece of music: its historical context (how it fits in or differs from the music of its time and before it), its historical significance (how it influenced contemporary and future music), its harmonic content, structure, and other technical elements, etc. Appreciation, however, ultimately comes down to how much we value these elements. At most, understanding might lead to an appreciation of how others (audiences and composers) felt about it, but it won't necessarily lead to us appreciating it ourselves because we either don't value those elements, or simply because it doesn't move us. It's possible to semantically separate "appreciation" from "enjoyment," but I think the notion of appreciating music we don't like is mostly just an acknowledgment of others' tastes, feelings, and opinions.
 

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Yeah, historical significance is probably the most vague concept (largely dependent on how you interpret) of them all. Who gives a damn about Aumann's influence on Bruckner, or Reichardt's influence on Schubert, or Adlgasser's influence on Mozart these days? (lol)
I'm sure some people care about such things. I've always been fascinated by the evolution of the arts, how the greats take influences from the past and transform them into something new and great; and this is especially true when they do this of much lesser works and artists. I always think of the Handel quote who when asked why he took some melody from some unknown (today) composer said: "it was much too good for him, he didn't know what to do with it."
 

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The difference between "understanding" and "appreciation" becomes obvious when one considers a simple piece, for example a small and repetitive pop song (I'm not saying that all pop songs are small and repetitive). It's totally possible to "assimilate" (or "understand") it with a few listens, but there's no guarantee that it will make one like it. But if the piece in question is technically or/and expressively complex, then "assimilating" it is necessary to like it, otherwise one may become lost in the process of hearing.

One has to understand something in order to decide if he enjoys it or not.
I don't agree with this at all. In fact, some of the works of art I love most were those that completely confounded my ability to understand them on my first experience, yet I instantly knew they were profoundly powerful emotionally/aesthetically and worthy of my time and effort to understand them. In fact, there is an entire aesthetic and affect that comes with experiencing something that one doesn't understand. It's often referred to as "awe." Being in awe is often the combination between the lack of intellectual understanding combined with the overwhelming intuitive and emotional power of the work being experienced. Tristan und Isolde, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Neon Genesis Evangelion, William Blake's Visionary Works... just a handful of examples of works that have provoked that feeling in me.
 

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To have a great first impression of a certain piece of music doesn't guarantee that one will really enjoy it after assimilating it, and the other way around is also true. The first time I heard Ketèlbey's In a Persian Market I was in awe because I didn't know well music back then, but later I came to dislike it. The first time I listened to Tristan und Isolde I hated it so much that it took me years to decide to hear it again, but nowadays it is one of my absolute favorite works in all music.

My point remains.
I don't think anyone's who's truly experience that feeling of awe has later come to really dislike whatever work inspired it. At least, I doubt seriously that would be the case. The experience alone is incredibly rare, and every time I've had it there was zero doubt in mind I'd just experienced something special, and my mind hasn't changed on any of them. Of course there are works that you may really like (even love) or really dislike (even hate) and first and change your mind over time, but I'm not talking about mere like/love/dislike/hate. However, even with the latter I don't think understanding is a necessary component in how you feel about them. Understanding may or may not change our opinion over time, but it certainly doesn't have to, and IME rarely does.
 

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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.
In terms of inexorable logic, if I wanted to appreciate the aesthetics of such a thing I'd be more inclined to study chess games by the great grandmasters--like Bobby Fischer's Game of the Century--than music. You can talk about all the inexorable logic there is in Bach's counterpoint all you want, but IMO once music and listeners of music lose site of the aesthetic, emotional, dramatic, and tonal (as in speaking tone, not music-theory-tone) aspects they've taken their eyes of the prize. If the "inexorable logic" is there for some aesthetic, emotional, tonal, or dramatic reason then that's fine. My values here probably helps explain why I prefer Handel to Bach, as I think the former, despite the relative simplicity of his harmonies and counterpoint, had a much better command on these other aspects I mention. Lovers of Bach may completely disagree, and that's their prerogative, but I've yet to hear an argument as to why I should care about "inexorable logic" in music if it doesn't make me feel anything.
 

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I guess in this thread it is my turn to be "agnostic" on the question the "inexorable logic" of some music. Based on my rudimentary understanding of music theory I can intuit what I think people mean by it, and perhaps given a certain set of axiomatic assumptions I might agree with it to some limited extents; but just as in the massive "objective/subjective" thread I find a lot of people willing to assert such things (inexorable logic and truth by way of axiomatic assumptions) but, at least thus far, very few people willing to articulate what those axiomatic assumptions are and how the truth of what they're saying follows with "inexorable logic" from those assumptions.

I know I keep coming back to chess, but it really is the ideal model for comparison, because in a game like that the rules/goals ARE the axiomatic assumptions. Within those assumptions some moves have an absolute inexorable logic in that the other player will have a limited set of responses and sometimes, if your move was good enough, all of their responses will put them in a losing situation. I am skeptical that music can have inexorable logic of this sort. For one it assumes that there is only one "right" move (according to what axiomatic assumption?) from the set of all possible moves. Surely, there may be "better" moves if we anchor "better" to the axiomatic assumption of composer's intent, and perhaps to a set of "rules" we've established for composition, or the intended affect on audiences; but must we take the former as gospel, and is the latter not innately dependent upon the variable minds and sensibilities of people who respond to the music?
 

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At some point I feel like an analogy is saying that there isn't anything inherent about film which requires us to assume that the scenes are in temporal order, or that cross-cutting implies two things happening simultaneously, or that if you zoom in on a character and do a dissolve fade it means it's a flashback. Sure, but where does that really get us?
For one thing it gets us to questioning these assumptions, which can then feed into questions about the ways in which the medium manipulates us for all kinds of purposes. These are the exact questions that a filmmaker like Jean-Luc Godard has posed throughout his career, and he is considered one of the greatest (and most controversial) filmmakers ever who completely revolutionized the very cinematic language we take for granted, just as you're taking for granted in this post. He began his career Breathelss, which, though still fairly standard in comparison with his later, much more challenging works, still "broke all the rules" of filmmaking logic in dozens of small ways, like his frequent use of jump cuts.

Also, regardless of how much one enjoys or cares for Godard's experimentation, it certainly shattered the illusion that the things you mentioned have an "inexorable logic" to them as opposed to just being similar to linguistic conventions that were amenable to radical rethinking. Someone like Tarantino has absorbed those innovations and implemented them in a more postmodern context that's about entertainment rather than lofty philosophical exploration.

One more fun example is that of Yasujiro Ozu. It was convention (still is) for conversations to be shot in what's called shot reverse-shot where characters would stare slightly left and right of the camera to make it appear as if they were looking at each other. Ozu shot them head on. The story goes that someone working with him questioned why he didn't shoot it the conventional way. He shot a scene the conventional way, reviewed it with that person and said "see, no difference," and just went on shooting it his way.

Classical is a form of art with conventions that the audience for the music has at least some familiarity with, even if they may not know it, in the same way that you don't need to know film editing to get what crosscutting or a montage implies narratively. I think we can accept that as an axiom, as ill-defined as it might be.
Right, but "conventions" don't amount to "inexorable logic." Conventions rely on a lot of assumptions that may not be there for either the artist or the audience. There are a great many films from a great many filmmakers all over the world that don't rely on these conventions; and many of those conventions were formed during the Golden Era of Hollywood where productions were meant to be run as smooth and, well, conventional as a factory to the point that directors were largely interchangeable and one could fill in for another if need be.

IMO, your comparisons are just highlighting the points I'm making. What's being described isn't "inexorable logic" but a kind of "logic by means of convention." Convention isn't gospel and most progress happens in art by subverting and questioning such conventions or by inventing new ones.
 

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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.
I've seen that YouTube clip. Chopra is indeed a charlatan who uses the "mysterious" reputation of QM to peddle woo-woo. Some of what he says would be OK if he would clarify he's just using these terms metaphorically but he doesn't.

At least I would appreciate some examples of this "inexorable logic." I assume any of them will come down to "a composer is trying to do X (like, say, modulate back to a home key), there are A, B, C ways of achieving X, but A is best because most listeners/composers prefer A..." though many here never really get around to admitting the last part of it. I mean, I actually have listened to and read certain analysis of how such things happen, but it strikes me no different than reading analysis of, say, Shakespeare's sonnets and all the literary tricks and patterns he's able to embed into the form. That's all well-and-good, but nothing what I'd describe as "inexorable logic" as in it MUST be this way given a set of axioms and goals. In art the axioms are too ambiguous and the goals are too rooted in our subjectivities.
 

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If I'm trying to communicate something, it's that while questioning and even playing with these conventions can be an interesting topic of discussion, I also think it's a reasonable assumption that the audience for a work is going to have familiarity with those conventions, even if it's via culturally-learned immersion, intuition, actual technical learning, or whatever. More to your point, I think, breaking these conventions is something which only has significance because those conventions exist in the first place - you can not cheat if there are no rules.
I absolutely agree that for breaking/questioning conventions to have any power the conventions must first exist: but the entire notion that questioning/breaking convention can lead to great, revolutionary works of art IMO puts the lie to any notions of "inexorable logic" in art. It isn't inexorable if it can be questioned and broken and still result in excellent or even better work than all the art that follows those conventions.

It reminds me of a great quote in an article about DOs and DON'Ts for young poets, paraphrased: "Don't slip on form and meter and think you can get away with it; people will notice and think you an idiot. Don't think it impossible to cheat on form and meter; if you do it well people will think you a genius."

Die Meistersinger is both a parody of the notion that art can be reduced to following rules/convention, and an endorsement that genius comes via inspiration that flounces such rules and conventions.

I don't think I've ever read an analysis of any given film, for instance, which assumes that we start from absolute zero base principles and explains that film is generally accepted to be a narrative medium, in chronological order, and about two hours or so long. It may be an interesting topic (one which I'm certain has been covered in endless papers and writings) to see how the framework of orchestral music allows for a sort of narrative concept like "inexorable logic" to exist in an abstract form, but I don't think it's necessary to start from square zero to do so.
I don't know if I've ever read such an analysis either, but I think films like those of Godard showed how... unnecessary, let's say, many of those conventions were. It's worth noting that a little more than a century ago nobody really had any idea how to make fiction films except as what amounted to filmed stage plays. DW Griffith changed that by introducing all kinds of novel ideas like the modulation of shot types (medium shot, close-ups, etc.) and things like cross-cutting scenes of temporally parallel action, which you've previously mentioned. After Griffith dozens of filmmakers of the silent film's golden era (the 20s) worked to established many of the conventions that would dominate throughout the the early sound era of Hollywood. Many of these conventions were invented towards the goal of making film narrative more intelligible to viewers, who were, less than a decade before, completely "blank slates" for such things; so filmmakers HAD to take care to make sure they didn't lose their naive audiences.

Nearly a century on most of these conventions are no longer necessary. Audiences are sophisticated enough to follow much more complicated film techniques that would've seemed like gibberish to people a century ago, like the rapid editing and "intensified continuity" of most modern action blockbuster directors (though some of that traces back to Eisenstein's theory of editing). Much of that is thanks to Godard and the avant-garde cinema of the 60s that, either directly or indirectly, helped prime viewers for more, shall we say, oblique forms of film narratives. The conventions you make still exist, but are nowhere near as dominant or necessary as they once were.

I would be shocked if there aren't parallels to this in music, where many things deemed necessary by inexorable logic have been questioned, subverted, and made into what are still considered masterpieces.
 

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You don't think there's logic in music? I could pool them in with pure mathematicians as well, maybe.
It's the "inexorable" part I struggle with. To claim that there is logic in music is perfectly defensible; this is apparent in the abundant patterns within music, in concepts like themes and their development, in modulations to and from keys, etc. All of these things point to the existence of goals and means of achieving those goals within certain frameworks. Logic exists, but "inexorable logic," with the implication that it couldn't have been otherwise, is another matter entirely.
 

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Well the greatness of, say, the Goldberg Variations isn't in some scientific certainty that Bach's "solution" was the only mathematically possible one; it's that the whole work has the feeling of inevitability. It couldn't really have been any other way without loss. It may be as illusory as the implied harmony in the cello suites, but it's there. Do you know the logic of the GV? Do you know the logic of the canons and fugues in the Musical Offering?
I understand the feeling of inevitability, but I also understand that such feelings point to our own ideals, values, standards, etc. rather than anything else. There are plenty of works in which I would not want to change a note, a frame, a word (choose the appropriate term for the medium); but this doesn't argue for inexorable logic as it does to the notion of a work being in a state that matches the ideal you have for it. I acknowledge that The Goldberg Variations may be that for you, but, speaking as someone who's always been underwhelmed by TGV (and as someone who's followed along with the score, the multiple voices, and the harmonic developments), I suspect it could be changed quite radically and the result could be something I might even prefer. That, of course, would then push the work far away from your ideals of what it should be, and undoubtedly away from Bach's, but such is the case with all art and its interaction with such varying subjectivities.
 

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No, it has to do with the music.
So what other definition for "inexorable logic" would you have? I don't really think the term is used as an expression of mathematical certitude, but at least partly figuratively. But in some ways maybe there is mathematical certitude involved.
It's your loss.
I feel like at this point we're just going to be repeating arguments that have already been gone over ad infinitum in the objective/subjective thread. As always, nobody is saying the music has no role in producing the feeling you mention, merely that the music does not lead "inexorably" to that feeling, which is the entire reason why opinions differ.

I would define "inexorable logic" as precisely meaning that the musical choices in something couldn't have been otherwise given some set of axiomatic assumptions and goals (because that's how logic works). The problem is that I don't think you're ever going to be able to establish what those axiomatic assumptions and goals are in a way that's universally applicable. At most you might be limited to defining such a thing in the much more limited context of the composer, but then in that case most everything composed becomes the product of inexorable logic.

I agree me being underwhelmed by TGV is my loss, which is why I've tried so much with it; but then the fact that any number of people don't respond to the music I rate highly based on my own subjective ideals/goals/etc. is also their loss. Hell, I've been listening to some of Handel's lesser-known keyboard suites and there's some phenomenal music in them that I rarely seem mentioned and I can't help but think that for everyone who hasn't heard them, or who has heard them and don't share my reactions, that's their loss too. Here's one example:
That may be the saddest Menuet I've ever heard... but of course appealing to emotion doesn't have the same force and weight to many as asserting inexorable logic, but what can you do?
 

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Not this time. The presence of logic in music doesn't depend on whether you like it or not. It's a matter of your knowledge and being able to discern it. It is objective. There is a logic to Schoenberg and Webern, and you could say that logic is inexorable in the stream of classical music.
But nobody is denying that there are objective patterns in music that serve as evidence for such logic; what we're questioning is what @mmsbls goes on to say about finding an algorithm to that would show that logic is inexorable. Claiming such a thing exists because you feel every note is perfect isn't a convincing argument.
 

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"inexorable logic" is obviously an exaggeration.
Is it? I often get the impression that some people (here and elsewhere) mistake such exaggeration, metaphor, and other figurative language for being quite literal. When someone feels a work could not have been other than what it is, it could be easy to mistake that feeling for what amounts to literal (rather than figurative) inexorable logic. I myself might use that phrase to figuratively describe a work I feel is perfect, and in which I feel was generated by the composer (or author, filmmaker, etc.) devising some plan or form or principle and following it through. If questioned, though, I would immediately clarify that it was meant figuratively rather than literally. If people here meant it figuratively, it would be strange that they (or at least one of them) has spent so much time arguing for it.

A listener who is confronted with a tightly organized "logical" piece might to some extent perceive this strong unity subliminally but it could also be the case that a listener grasps only a fraction of these unifying relations and perceives the piece as "chaotic". In such a case it doesn't seem unfair to say that this listeners misses something in the understanding of the piece. I'd guess almost everyone has had the experience that a piece seemed haphazard or chaotic but after some more listening or learning a bit about the structure eventually made (more) sense, i.e. the "logic" that leads to the unity of the piece is now perceived more clearly.
All of this I agree with, by the way.
 

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This is a logic which apparently can't be understood and shared across the divide.
How would you know this is a logic that can't be "understood and shared across the divide" when no attempt at doing so has even been made? I cringe at the assumption that everyone who questions and is skeptical of certain, often bombastic and exaggerated, claims simply don't possess the knowledge necessary to understand and thus agree with them.
 

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Considering that the word ‘inexorable‘ has more than one definition and there are subtle differences among them, one could say that ‘inexorable logic‘ doesn’t mean that ‘this is the only possible way this work could have proceeded’, but rather ‘the path that was chosen is so relentless as to appear inevitable that it is hard to imagine how it could have proceeded otherwise‘.
If the latter is what was meant then the latter should've been specified, but even with the latter it's pretty vague and feels more like an opinion or feeling. No crime in that, of course, but I just didn't the impression that's how it was meant.
 

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So you don't agree either. What's the opposite of inexorable?
I'm confused: I don't agree with what? I was merely pointing out that I don't think anyone in this thread has really tried to demonstrate this "inexorable logic" they mention.

I guess the opposite of inexorable in this context would be something like complete freedom, anarchy, and chance in music. I don't know of any music that's completely free, where every note appears with no context or connection to anything before it. Even aleatory music and genres like free jazz simply leave some things up to chance and/or remove certain guiding principles for improvisation.
 

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I said what I wanted to say. Why one 50-word comment sometimes has a way of bringing out a 10-paragraph response -- little of which really has much to do with music -- is mysterious as well.
It's not "mysterious" at all. It's well known in discussion and debate that any simple claim or argument can (usually does) require far more words to unpack and attempt to prove.

You and your compadre for two. It's just a points-scoring thing, and it's tiresome.
This makes literally zero sense. My "compadre" and I were not the one who introduced the term and proceed to argue for it literally. If you, or anyone else, meant the term figuratively, or were exaggerating, you could've immediately clarified that was the case, but you literally did the opposite of that. So nice attempt at gaslighting, but try it on someone more gullible.
 
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