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You have a gift for misreading my posts.. I merely pointed out that I have been an attentive and happy auditor of CM for decades and do not require the tutelage or the approbation of others to validate my tastes. Your repeated "Sounds Like" sounds to me like someone on a fishing expedition. I am not responsible for what you think something I posted "sounds like".
You are responsible for what you post. You made a direct, unequivocal statement that you know music ‘done well’ based on long experience. My guess is that anybody reading that would assume from it that long experience implies an opinion with substance over and above an opinion without that experience. It is also assumed that someone crediting long experience for the ability to discern quality is applying some educated objective information.
 

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Of course. But are you suggesting that any and all interpretations are compatible with the contents of the artwork? That some of the things people "take away" are not more perceptive responses to the work than others? If I got up on the wrong side of the bed today, I need to listen to that music again tomorrow. I might gain a better idea of what's actually in it.
No - readings of art should be justifiable by the text. When an interpretation of art is not compatible with the text, we tend to reject it. Now this might depend on your view of art, but the (post)modern trend has been to look dimly on readings that rely excessively on biographical detail, historical detail, or attributed statements by the author. I don't think this means we can't take these into account, but there's a reason someone saying like, "The Hammerklavier Fugue represents Beethoven's struggle with his own deafness" is more the kind of exegetic criticism people would write in the 19th century, rather than today.


I don't think we need to try too hard, in most cases, to look for meaning behind the work. Great art impresses us with a distinctive vision which justifies itself and doesn't need - though it may provoke - speculation on what the artist intended. If we're alive to what's actually there, we're less likely to concoct strange interpretations greatly at variance with, or at least incompatible with, the author's intent. But artists know, and need to accept, that people will find things in their work which they themselves never thought of. When i was exhibiting work and this happened to me, i was quite pleased that my subconscious had been fertile and had done what it should do in the act of creation.
See- I don't know if this is just a fundamental difference on how we see art, but ambiguity has always been one of the things I love about art, rather than explicit clarity. Not that there's anything wrong with clarity, but I love art that you can look at fifty different times and come away with something new every time. In fact I think this sort of thing - the idea that we can keep returning to the well and taking away something new - is what people frequently mean when they talk about "depth".

also slightly besides the point but I don't think the author's intent actually matters here. Otherwise we need to reckon with the swaths of art where the author's intent can't be fully known. Now- we can always use formal analysis, but I don't think the actual goal of this is to "discern what the author's intent was" (in fact, I think artistic formalism explicitly rejects doing this), so much as discerning the contents of the text, and how it is communicated to the reader.
 

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As I said, we can pick and choose which experts to believe, and when. Frequently depending on whether or not we personally agree with them or not.

Anyway, Alex Ross, who is about as educated on music as anyone -
Hang your credibility on whatever so-called experts (and the polls they take part in) you want.
 

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One problem in this thread (and elsewhere) is that some don't (can't?) grasp the notion of different frames of reference. @fbjim mentioned this earlier, but the subjective/objective distinction is basically one about different frames of reference. The "objective" frame of reference (which none of us truly have access to fully; though we can approximate it to some extent) is basically a God's-eye view without the biases, prejudices, concerns, values, etc. of human subjectivity. The subjective frame of reference is, obviously, the opposite of that; it's the one that does consider human perspectives, values, etc. From an objective point of view we say that money has no value, it's just pieces of green paper with certain weight, dimension, designs, etc; from the perspective of humans (all humans) money has the value everyone agrees it has. If 50% of the population stopped valuing certain money, then to the frame of reference of that 50% of the population that money would be worthless, while to the other 50% it wouldn't be. Asking what the "objective" value of money is makes no sense as it as only has value to people who agree that it has value.

The problem is that people slip between these frames of references implicitly without even recognizing it. When @Strange Magic says "As an educated layman and listener to CM for about 75 years, I have a naive faith in my ability to tell music "done well" from music not well done." he's talking about his own frame of reference; but when @DaveM responds with: "So your ability to tell music ‘done well’ is based on being an educated layman and listener for ‘about 75’ years. Sounds like you are giving someone with experience an edge over someone without similar experience. Sounds like many people with experience declaring Beethoven to be a great composer is more profound than the result of simple polling of people with indeterminate experience. And sounds like someone with long experience has the ability to apply objectivity to various parameters that determine music ‘well done’." he has slipped from the subjective frame of reference to trying to argue that one can turn SM's subjective frame of reference into an objective one. Well, no, SM didn't say nor imply that. The frame of reference of "experienced listeners" is just another frame of reference, one we may value or not from our own frame of reference. You value such experience? Good for you. This doesn't make it objective; it may make it many things, including more knowledgeable about many facts as it pertains to the objective features of music, but it does not make it more objective. You still haven't eliminated the values, biases, prejudices, etc. of the human mind; you've just chosen to value a certain subjectivity with certain values, biases, prejudices.
 

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Hang your credibility on whatever so-called experts (and the polls they take part in) you want.
So when does education, expertise and the like matter? The more qualifications and exceptions one provides as to which population of experts we should listen to, and which ones shouldn't be listened to, the more it seems like appeals to expertise and education just seem like ways to dress up personal tastes in the guise of objectivism.
 

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When @Strange Magic says "As an educated layman and listener to CM for about 75 years, I have a naive faith in my ability to tell music "done well" from music not well done." he's talking about his own frame of reference;
Well, so you say, but the reality is that you are qualifying something (his own frame of reference) not stated. What was stated, no matter how you spin it, was that long experience confers the ability to judge music well done versus music not well done.
 

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I've mentioned the metaphor with money before, and it's useful because there are frequently protests that to say that we view art subjectively is to reject that it is meaningful at all. The fact that money is a subjective social construct based on a shared cognition of its value does not mean that money is meaningless. In fact, it has enormous impact on our lives. We can even measure it! The metaphor is that the impact ajd meaning of art comes from human beings. Not that it is "fake", and that once we say art is subjective we live in a world of total anarchy, it will rain frogs, and cats and dogs will play together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #531 ·
You are responsible for what you post. You made a direct, unequivocal statement that you know music ‘done well’ based on long experience. My guess is that anybody reading that would assume from it that long experience implies an opinion with substance over and above an opinion without that experience. It is also assumed that someone crediting long experience for the ability to discern quality is applying some educated objective information.
We'll both be happier if you stick to what I post and not guess anything or assume anything beyond what I post. I will adhere like a limpet to my assertion that I have sufficient experience listening to music and otherwise enjoying art so that i need not "defend" my tastes nor plead their case nor call upon outside authority or consensus groupings to judge whether something is well- or ill-done. What is CM for? Is it a cult thing? Does one pass (or fail) tests? Listen to some music that pleases you (I just finished hearing/seeing Brahms' 4th on YouTube).
 

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Did you come up with that on your own because it makes no sense. A shared cognition of value implies more than a subjective social construct.
I am not an economist, so someone who is can chime in if I'm talking crap, but the question of where precisely the value of currency is derived from has been the subject of a lot of writing over the years. I think it's sufficient to simply say that money is valuable because a sufficient number of people believe it is valuable, and have faith that others will agree on its value.
 

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Discussion Starter · #533 ·
I am not an economist, so someone who is can chime in if I'm talking crap, but the question of where precisely the value of currency is derived from has been the subject of a lot of writing over the years. I think it's sufficient to simply say that money is valuable because a sufficient number of people believe it is valuable, and have faith that others will agree on its value.
The ultimate fate of cryptocurrency will be an interesting test. Can I interest anyone in my Bitcoin collection?
 

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See- I don't know if this is just a fundamental difference on how we see art, but ambiguity has always been one of the things I love about art, rather than explicit clarity. Not that there's anything wrong with clarity, but I love art that you can look at fifty different times and come away with something new every time. In fact I think this sort of thing - the idea that we can keep returning to the well and taking away something new - is what people frequently mean when they talk about "depth".'
I'm finding that we tend to agree while you think we're disagreeing. I can't explain it, but I can't but notice it. I think you have an idea about my views in your head and you're filtering what I say through it. I'm largely sympathetic to the statement, "I love art that you can look at fifty different times and come away with something new every time." There's no virtue in obviousness. I agree that "the idea that we can keep returning to the well and taking away something new is what people frequently mean when they talk about 'depth'." The ability to handle ambiguity and complexity of meaning convincingly is one of the things that tends to separate the men from the boys among artists.

also slightly besides the point but I don't think the author's intent actually matters here. Otherwise we need to reckon with the swaths of art where the author's intent can't be fully known. Now- we can always use formal analysis, but I don't think the actual goal of this is to "discern what the author's intent was" (in fact, I think artistic formalism explicitly rejects doing this), so much as discerning the contents of the text, and how it is communicated to the reader.
An artist's intent matters only insofar as it's actually evident in the finished work. We can assume that Beethoven intended the first movement of his fifth symphony to be as terse as he could make it and still tell his "story" - create a complete dramatic action (taking sonata form as a kind of dramatic narrative). We can assume it because he succeeded brilliantly, and because such things don't happen accidentally. The sense of purpose - the sense that the artist is in control and is directing his material toward a striking and memorable end - is another mark of excellence in art.
 

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Much as I like Beethoven's 5th, I sometimes 'sense' that I'm being beaten about the head with a rolled up newspaper. Was that part of his purpose? He succeeds brilliantly if it was, and if it wasn't, is that a failure on his part?
 

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When @Strange Magic says "As an educated layman and listener to CM for about 75 years, I have a naive faith in my ability to tell music "done well" from music not well done." he's talking about his own frame of reference; but when @DaveM responds with: "So your ability to tell music ‘done well’ is based on being an educated layman and listener for ‘about 75’ years. Sounds like you are giving someone with experience an edge over someone without similar experience. Sounds like many people with experience declaring Beethoven to be a great composer is more profound than the result of simple polling of people with indeterminate experience. And sounds like someone with long experience has the ability to apply objectivity to various parameters that determine music ‘well done’." he has slipped from the subjective frame of reference to trying to argue that one can turn SM's subjective frame of reference into an objective one. Well, no, SM didn't say nor imply that. The frame of reference of "experienced listeners" is just another frame of reference, one we may value or not from our own frame of reference. You value such experience? Good for you. This doesn't make it objective; it may make it many things, including more knowledgeable about many facts as it pertains to the objective features of music, but it does not make it more objective. You still haven't eliminated the values, biases, prejudices, etc. of the human mind; you've just chosen to value a certain subjectivity with certain values, biases, prejudices.
DaveM was merely assuming that SM's words meant what they normally mean. If I say that "as an educated layman and listener to CM for about 75 years, I have a naive faith in my ability to tell music 'done well' from music not well done," I'm ordinarily saying that age and experience have enhanced my ability to tell good music from less good. If SM's quotes around "done well" and his use of the word "naive" are the clues that he intended to subvert the normal meaning of his statement, they do an ambiguous job of it, and DaveM was completely justified in not getting the sarcasm, if that's what it was. His comments were merely extrapolations from the apparent meaning of SM's statement. I understand your subjective desire to defend a fellow subjectivist, but in this case you're defending the wrong person.

As it happens, I too have had to question SM about a statement that gave exactly the same mistaken impression as the one above, if taken as worded. In discussions of this nature, we surely need to be preternaturally careful of how we say things, given that much of what we must say about art is difficult - in some cases maybe impossible - to put into words.
 

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Much as I like Beethovens 5th, I sometimes 'sense' that I'm being beaten about the head with a rolled up newspaper. Was that part of his purpose? He succeeds brilliantly if it was, and if it wasn't, is that a failure on his part?
I'm sorry to hear that you know what it feels like to be beaten with a rolled up newspaper. No one should have to endure such an indignity.

When it comes to Beethoven, I recommend for you the slow movement of the Archduke Trio. It can only make the bruises heal faster.
 
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