Thursday, December 15, 2011

Semester Overveiw

Over the course of the semester these are the topics that we have discussed that stick out in my mind.

Early on we established that music is more than organized sound and using that definition results in difficulties. Through Q&As, class discussions, and readings on and about Adorno we learned that the social aspect of music is essential. Not too long after that, in order to distinguish sounds of nature from composed pieces we added the condition of intentionality. This condition lead us to talk about musak, and we decided that since there was no intention in computer programs that we could not define it as music but it could be sound art. Musique concrete and John Cages piece 4'33'' are not music but sound art. In Hamilton's book we discussed how rhythm is interfused with everything, and rhythm is a necessary condition for music. Imperfection is a part of performing and the fact that we interpret music makes it "abstract in form and humane in utterance." Music is not a language despite Cooke's opinions because music does not tell us anything semantically. Music is considered to display "the emotional life of humans" according to Langer, yet that is culturally specific. According to Woods music is its own revelation and its own truth because music does not have to refer to anything beyond itself.

So in conclusion we have established that: music is beyond organized sound, intention and rhythm are needed, and the social impact of music is essential. Computer generated music, musique concrete, and 4' 33'' are not music, but sound art. Music is not language and music does not need to refer to anything beyond itself.

Question: What were some of the other important discussion topics that we have had in class?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Music Definition

We didn't really get to talk about everybody's definition of music today, and I'm kind of disappointed about it. I know that there is never really a definite answer when it comes to any realm of philosophy, but the fact that there are multiple answers and differences in opinions are a part of why it is so great. I was hoping to hear more opinions and arrive at a little bit more of a resolution. Even though only a small portion of the class does blog postings I think it would be beneficial if everyone who does to post their definitions and we can offer alterations or comments to each other.

My definition of music is:

A perceived aural art that involves intention and a practiced skill whose end drives to be aesthetically pleasing, enriching, and emotionally arousing. The content must contain rhythm. Melody, harmony, and linguistics do not need to be included, but when they are melody, harmony, lyrics, and rhythm, work together holistically and the tones are organized.

Question: What do you think of this definition? Does anything need to change? What is your definition of music?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

RE: Wesley's "Album that changed my life"

Earlier this week Wes wrote a post about how Justice For All changed his life and asked me and the other bloggers to join him in writing a post about how a specific piece or an album of music changed our lives. Now, I don't mean to be the odd man out, but I cannot think of one song, album, soundtrack, or even a specific composer who has changed my life. If there was one, the name would have come to be instantly. I don't want to choose one and lie about it just to be a part of the group. Yet, I will attest that music as a whole has definitely changed my life.

I read in a book recently, that the evolution of music makes no sense from a Darwinian perspective, because music has no means of survival. Darwin himself claimed music to be an "evolutionary accident". It's a sad fact that if there was no music, the world as a whole would be basically the same. We would still have power plants, electricity, water pressure, desk jobs, criminals -- all of the good and bads of life. Despite this, a world without music seems to be empty, similar to like a world without poetry. Yet, perhaps music is a part of every culture because it brings us together and no one, not even Darwin can rid music of that.
Music may serve the purpose of bringing us together as a society, but what about at the individual level? What purpose does music serve to us individually? How has music changed your life?

For me, music has changed my life because my future career choice would be completely different, and the musical experiences I have been through have changed me as a person.
It seems as though most musicians have played the same instruments their wholes lives, that's not the case for me. I went from clarinet to singing to keyboard to singing to keyboard to singing (seriously I made the switch that many times) to Mallet percussion to saxophone to piano and then to trumpet. It took me a while to find the instrument that was right for me and even though I changed around quiet a bit, never was there any part of my life where I wasn't involved with music at all.

It took me until I was a sophomore in high school to really become dedicated to music and not until my freshman/sophomore year in college until I decided that I wanted music to play a large role in my life. Around this time I realized my love of psychology and music and that I wasn't going to part with either of the two. Music has changed my life because without it I would not have chosen to go into music perception. I would still go for a PhD in psychology and aim to being a psychology professor, but I honestly do not know what I would study. I can't see myself doing anything else.

Music has also changed my life because of the musical experiences I have been through. I was in Drum and Bugle Corp for two years. (Basically the major leagues of marching band). Drum and Bugle Corp stresses the military mentality to their members, you have to push yourself beyond your limits and you have to sacrifice everything down to breathing (literally) for the whole. Even outside of Drum Corp this mentality makes it way into everyday situations, and makes the push to the finish a little easier.

I can't see a life absent of music because music has always been a part of my life. Creating and playing music is a skill that one can always get better at and because of this it never gets old. Composing and playing is a hobby that I intend on sustaining through the rest of my existence.

Question: What purpose does music serve to us individually? What purpose does music serve for you? How has music changed your life? How have you become the musician (if you are one) that you are today? What is your musical history?