Jump to content






Photo
- - - - -

Announcement: new book being written (by me!)


  • Please log in to reply
87 replies to this topic

#21 Michael Stuart Kelly

Michael Stuart Kelly

    $$$$$$

  • Root Admin
  • 20,275 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 30 January 2006 - 12:55 AM

Dragonfly,

You wrote this comment to Roger:

... in your last posts you write something quite different from your first post in which you mention your ideas; now you're much less absolute in your judgement about the influence of the rhythm on the music.


There is a context in these types of discussions that often gets overlooked, so matters can become a bit sidetracked. From what I see, Roger is writing a book and just now fleshing out and trying out new ideas. He is not trying to lay down the law yet. This is an insecure time for any creator.

You are trying to contribute in the best manner you know how, by providing well thought out observations that could save him weeks of work going off in a wrong direction. And obviously, you do not want to blow his high.

If this context is not kept in mind, he could easily start thinking that all you want to do is debunk him and you could start thinking that all he wants to do is to propose an idea that still needs work and stubbornly cling to it - simply in order to not be wrong.

Thus a fertile discussion like the one now going on can transform into a hostile contest.

I think of Roger's state of mind in creating a new work right now - and sharing the creation process with others - as sort of like fishing. If you make movements that are too abrupt and too loud, the fish get scared off and nobody catches anything.

Please understand that this comment of mine is merely an observation on style of discussion and not intentions. I know both you and Roger are high-level high-quality people, whom I personally admire, and I would hate to see a misunderstanding over something like this, especially as it would literally be a misunderstanding and nothing more.

Let's give Roger a hand and help his book become something very special, which it shows every sign of becoming. (I know that is what you are doing, too.) I am saying all this just to stay on track.

Michael

#22 Ellen Stuttle

Ellen Stuttle

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 5,070 posts
  • Interests:Psychology, Physics, Philosophy, Literature, Music

Posted 30 January 2006 - 02:52 AM

Michael,

Your concerns about not scaring off the skitty "fish" of ideas-in-formation are especially important ones for a list like this, where fishing expeditions in thought are being encouraged. But if I might enter a concern from the other direction about interpretations of Dragonfly's remarks. Please keep in mind, people, that Dragonfly is not a native English speaker, that he has to translate his thoughts into a language which isn't his native tongue. Thus it's well not to take umbrage at details of nuance. I myself, on an earlier list, got into some crossed swords over nuance with Dragonfly, but I've been very impressed by what seems to me his effort at tactfulness here.

Ellen


___

#23 Michael Stuart Kelly

Michael Stuart Kelly

    $$$$$$

  • Root Admin
  • 20,275 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 30 January 2006 - 03:17 AM

Ellen,

Hear, hear.

I have had the same experience with Herr Dragonfly (despite my fat head).

:D

Michael

#24 Dragonfly

Dragonfly

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 2,891 posts

Posted 30 January 2006 - 03:57 AM

I can't resist repeating here a story by Richard Feynman about the time when he was working in the Manhattan project (he was still a young student at the time). One day he meets the great Niels Bohr and his son Aage Bohr (using the pseudonyms Nicholas Baker and Jim Baker respectively):

We were at a meeting once, the first time he came, and everybody wanted to see the great Bohr. So there were a lot of people there, and we were discussing the problems of the bomb. I was back in a corner somewhere. He came and went, and all I could see of him was from between people's heads.

In the morning of the day he's due to come next time, I get a telephone call.
"Hello-Feynman?'
"Yes."
"This is Jim Baker." It's his son. My father and I would like to speak to you."
"Me? I'm Feynman, I'm just a-"
"That's right. Is eight o'clock OK?"
So, at eight o'clock in the morning, before anybody's awake, I go down to the place. We go into an office in the technical area and he says, "We have been thinking how we could make the bomb more efficient and we think of the following idea."
I say, "No, it's not going to work. It's not efficient... Blah, blah, blah.
So he says, "How about so and so?"
I said, "That sounds a little bit better, but it's got this damn fool idea in it."
This went on for about two hours, going back and forth over lots of ideas, back and forth, arguing. The great Niels kept lighting his pipe; it always went out. And he talked in a way that was un-understandable - mumble, mumble, hard to understand. His son I could understand better.
"Well," he said finally, lighting his pipe, "I guess we can call in the big shots now." So then they called all the other guys and had a discussion with them.
Then the son told me what happened. The last time he was there, Bohr said to his son, "Remember the name of that little fellow in the back over there?" He's the only guy who's not afraid of me, and will say when I've got a crazy idea. So next time when we want to discuss ideas, we're not going to be able to do it with these guys who say everything is yes, yes, Dr. Bohr. Get that guy and we'll talk with him first."
I was always dumb that way. I never knew who I was talking to. I was always worried about the physics. If the idea looked lousy, I said it looked lousy. If it looked good, I said it looked good. Simple proposition.
I've always lived that way. It's nice, it's pleasant - if you can do it. I'm lucky in my life that I can do this.

From: Richard P. Feynman, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" (the funniest book in the world)

#25 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 30 January 2006 - 10:57 PM

Please feel free to raise questions, make criticisms, etc....REB
=======================================
Serious Schmaltz and Passionate Pop
[subtitle to be added later]
by Roger E. Bissell


Preface

“…the great unanswered question: why does music make us experience emotions?” – Ayn Rand, “Art and Cognition,” The Romantic Manifesto


In college during the late 1960s, as I read various works on philosophy of art and aesthetics, I began to get a feel for the difficulty of the issue of emotion and meaning in music. Music was touted as “the language of the emotions,” and the challenge was to identify how this could be so – to identify how music conveys emotions and stirs them in us. At the time, it struck me as somewhat odd to grant this title to music, when it was obvious to me that the other forms of art also present and arouse emotions in the viewer.

In particular, it seemed clear to me that stage dramas were able to affect their audiences in much the same way that music did, the main difference being the means by which they did so. In drama – which, like music, is a temporal art, a process occurring through time – emotions are symbolized by gestures, tone of voice, posture, attitude, and actions by the actors. The parallel in music is melody – the phrases, motifs, intervals, etc., that occur in a way that seems similar to the actions of a dramatic character.

In drama, including dramatic novels and short stories, the overall progression of actions and interactions between the characters and circumstances draw us in so that we vicariously experience the expectations, frustrations, victories or defeats of the characters – and in that way, too, emotions are symbolized and evoked by drama, in this case by the plot of the story. Again, in music, something very similar happens in the unfolding of the progressions of harmonies.

While the parallels between dramatic music and literature are probably most obvious on the scale of the symphony, the concerto, or the sonata, a good number of similar observations can be made on the level of the popular song and classical theme. Indeed, the longer forms are, to a great extent, an elaboration upon the shorter forms, both in literature and music. So, it seems reasonable to me that there is much to be gained by beginning one’s quest to understand music’s emotional impact with an examination of popular songs and classical melodies.

This book, which attempts such an examination, is an outgrowth of a talk by the same name that I gave in San Francisco in March of 2003. The subtitle of that talk, “Are there objective indicators of emotion in music?” indicated that my purpose was to examine songs from the popular and serious repertoire for features that might explain our experience of and response to music. I specifically looked at the connotations of melodic contours, especially ascending and descending melodies, of major and minor tonalities, of faster and slower tempos, and of beginning- and end-accented rhythms. I continue to use those categories in this book, and I will expand upon them where appropriate to get at the subtleties in more complex melodies and themes.

When I gave my talk on this topic, my approach to understanding emotionality in music was mainly in terms of the melodies of cherry-picked examples of popular songs and classical themes. As noted, I already had some concepts – mainly, melodic and harmonic attributes of melodies – to apply in analyzing the emotional character of songs and themes, but I did not have a systematic approach. Above all, I did not have a data base from which to observe patterns and draw generalizations about melodies and their emotional qualities. My samples were drawn from my own experience, rather than from a comprehensive survey of the fields of popular and serious music. In this book, I aim primarily to make an attempt to remedy that lack, and then to show how the enormous task of mining this data base for enlightening and practical insights can be carried out.

The first task will be to gather a large pool of melodies and themes, then to measure their various aspects and enter those into the computer, then to analyze the data for additional aspects and patterns. Some mathematics and statistics will, therefore, be inescapable – but also invaluable, in managing and making use of the data. As a consequence, a new area of music theory will be established, ... and this book is the first attempt to organize and apply this approach to doing music theory and musical interpretation.

My “sample population” will be what is colloquially referred to as “the Great American Songbook” and “America’s Best Loved Classical Melodies.” The former will be gathered in a number of ways: culling most-recorded songs from the ASCAP and BMI websites, titles from recent “standards” albums (e.g., Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, etc.), and titles from a reference books for “casual” musicians (e.g., The Real Book). The latter will be gathered from printed and recorded collections of Classical and Romantic themes, such as those issued by Time-Life. Although my primary samples will be “favorites” or “hits,” I will also include other less popular melodies and themes mainly for use as “contrast items,” in order to illustrate what works emotionally and what does not – and as a suggestion as to why certain themes and melodies have remained popular and “stood the test of time,” while others have not.

There are several things that this book will not try to do. This book will not attempt to accomplish an encyclopedic analysis of all aspects of all musical works. An example of that would be something along the lines outlined by Ayn Rand [1975 (1971)] in her essay “Art and Cognition,” in which she proposed that researchers carry out:

…a computation of the mathematical relationships among the tones of a melody—a computation of the time required by the human ear and brain to integrate a succession of musical sounds, including the progressive steps, the duration and the time limits of the integrating process (which would involve the relationship of tones to rhythm)—a computation of the relationships of melody to harmony, and of their sum to the sounds of various musical instruments, etc. [61]


As Rand notes (ibid.), “[t]he work involved is staggering” – much too daunting to attempt in the early, exploratory stages of ..., and largely irrelevant to the present project, anyway. Rand’s goal for such research is to develop a standard for evaluating music based on how much integration a given musical composition achieves. We will certainly consider how well the factors of melodies and themes work together in one piece compared with another, much as one considers which of two shades of orange are closer to red than to yellow. But the massive undertaking Rand suggests is neither possible nor necessary in order to get a very large foot in the door in understanding the emotional power of melody.

Nor, therefore, does this book aim at the musical equivalent of a “Theory of Everything.” The current quest in physics is to find a “Grand Unifying Theory” to explain gravity, electro-magnetism, and the nuclear forces and how the universe evolved the way it did. This is way beyond Einstein and his theories of Relativity, who went way beyond Newton and his Theory of Universal Gravitation, who went way beyond Galileo and his Laws of Motion and Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion. I envision my efforts, certainly those in this book, to be on the scale of what Galileo and Kepler did. I am making a deliberately limited examination of certain features of certain aspects of a certain set of musical pieces, trying to find out what “makes them tick,” and specifically how they stir emotions in listeners.

Another thing this book will not try to do is to provide a set of standards for evaluating all music as to its worthiness. My own operating premise is that melody and harmonic goal-directedness are very important and valuable in providing “emotional fuel” to listeners of music, and I thus give them primary consideration in my book. However interesting it would be to argue the point, though, I am not saying here that dramatic music is better than music that functions similarly to landscape painting (“tone poems,” Impressionistic music) or poetry (Baroque dance forms, early Classical themes), any more than I am saying that a novel is better than a poem or a painting. To each his own.

Nor will this book try to argue the case for why purposeful elements in music are better than non-purposeful elements, or why music with confidently assertive melodies are better than music with wistfully resigned melodies, or why music with coherent melodies and harmonic progression are better than incoherent music, or why music with successful resolutions of conflict are better than music in which such resolution is avoided or denied. These are basically the artistic counterpart of the cardinal issues of ethics: Do you value purpose or not? Do you value self-esteem or not? Do you value reason and understanding or not? Do you value happiness or not?

I trust that my readers know where they stand on the basic ethical issues, one way or the other. It’s not my job, nor my desire, to convert anyone to my point of view on those issues. In point of fact, any of these perspectives can be appropriate in a given song or theme, depending upon the context. In literature, most people regard villains as evil, but they are a necessary evil in a dramatic story, as a foil to the hero, i.e., to serve as contrast and source of conflict so that the plot is more interesting. Or, on a deeper level, an author might use an unhappy ending (as Ayn Rand did in We the Living as a way of dramatizing how certain political or social situations are so inimical to human success and happiness that no other outcome is possible, despite the best efforts and struggling of the main characters.

Similarly, in music, contrasting themes are used to provide variety and conflict, which is developed and resolved in the course of the piece; 19th century sonata form is a particularly good example of this, though some popular songs also exhibit the pattern. Vigorously defiant pieces beginning and ending in the minor mode are an obvious parallel to the novel described above, and they convey the idea that there are no guarantees in life, that struggle can result in defeat. (All the more reason why it is so important that there are examples of vigorously defiant pieces that end triumphantly in a major key!)

Rather than speaking as advocate for any subcategory of melodies and themes, therefore, my mission, instead, is to lay out chapter and verse on how these different stances toward life can be embodied in the attributes of a melody, so that we all have a better grasp on why we are experiencing the emotions we do when listening to music. My aim is to help us understand the phenomena, to figure out how music conjures up emotions – so that listeners will have a better handle on why their feelings are being stirred by music, and performers will have more explicit means for optimizing the expressiveness of their playing, and composers will know in conceptual terms how better to tug at the heartstrings of their listeners, and teachers will have more ideas at their disposal in helping listeners, performers, and composers approach their musical experience with more success and enjoyment.

Having said that, I hasten to add that I do intend to compare, for instance, the songs that made the Hit Parade or the list of Best Loved Classical Melodies with those that didn’t. My goal in doing so, however, is not to prove which songs or themes were the best, in any philosophical sense. Instead, I will be trying to assess the relative effectiveness of the musical factors contributing to their emotionality, and whether that had anything to do with their relative stature and longevity in the public’s affections.

In other words, I will be aiming at an aesthetic evaluation of the melodies, at the effectiveness by which they conveyed their emotional meaning. (Rand [1975 (1971)] draws a clear distinction between philosophical evaluation and aesthetic evaluation of art, and I basically follow her guidelines in applying this to the identification and evaluation of the emotional effectiveness of music.) That presupposes an identification of their emotional meaning – which is, of course, the main point of this book: to pinpoint the objective indicators of emotion in music, which requires that we measure the attributes of music and identify the meanings they convey. Even delimited in this manner, the task will be a big one – one that I hope repays the efforts made with sufficient adventure and enjoyment for the reader!

[more to come]
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#26 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 30 January 2006 - 11:31 PM

Folks, I've been a little overly sensitive about being misunderstood, and I ask people's patience and understanding in regard to remarks I've previously made. I benefit from everyone's most intelligent, perceptive comments, as well as suggestions for further listening and analysis. By asking the right questions, or questioning what seems like a wrong-headed idea, at the very least you will alert me to something that I may need to work harder to clarify. And you very well may save me a lot of time in avoiding a blind alley of some kind. That said, I have no reason to think that my approach is basically wrong-headed, just not very well expressed in some respects.

Michael is right in saying that I am definitely in exploratory mode here. I am offering my ideas not as an attempt to prescribe how to think about music, but as an indication of the direction I'm going, and as an opportunity for you readers to chime in with suggestions. Even when I'm convinced about something, I don't always state it clearly and accurately, since there is so much to the subject, and my comments aren't systematically laid out, more off the top of my head at this point.

For instance, the whole discussion of the Rachmaninoff prelude in C#minor's middle section was about the sense I got from the surface rhythmic character of the passage, much as children respond to the concrete level character of the William Tell Overture. Part of what fascinates me about certain pieces of music is how they are able to generate a sense of goal-directedness when their surface attributes seem to be more "physical motion" than anything else. In particular, given my premise that beginning-accented rhythms connote non-teleological motion, and my observation that such rhythms do have that flavor in music, how does something like that prelude's middle section nevertheless project such a strong sense of goal-directedness and teleology? The answer toward which I have been groping is that what determines the section's overall character is the rhythmic groupings not on the surface level -- which produce one's initial sense of what is happening -- but several levels of rhythmic grouping up from the base level. (And what is fascinating about each piece is how the composer structures the rhythmic groupings at each level of structure of the piece, how he marshals the phrase lengths, the note durations, the pitch sequences, etc., in order to create hierarchical levels of rhythm that add up to a giant end-accented pattern that is the dynamic basis for the piece's goal-directed pull on the listener.)

I have also noticed that melodic factors -- repetition, sequence, ascent or descent -- play a big role in how rhythmic groupings relate to one another as stressed or unstressed. For instance, in the standard "My Heart Stood Still," the melody of the last 8 measures descends down to the tonic during the last 4 measures, which definitely imparts something like the denouement to the climax in a novel. Melodically and rhythmically, the song ends with an anti-climax, an unstressed phrase. Yet, in Frank Sinatra's classic recording (see "The Concert Sinatra"), the last 4 measures take an upward turn to the tonic an octave higher than the original version of the song. By "re-writing" the song in this way, Sinatra has changed the import of both the melody and the rhythm. Rather than subsiding into calm, contented "acceptance" of one's loving feelings, the song projects an exuberant, passionate "assertion" of those feelings. Rhythmically and melodically, the upward turn in the melody transforms it into a heroic, over-the-top ending -- what I like to call "leaping off the cliff." Or "ascending into heaven." In the version I perform of "When I Fall in Love," I do something similar with the ending. I guess the purpose is to "sweep the girl off her feet." :-)

More later...
REB
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#27 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 31 January 2006 - 12:20 AM

One reason I am going to spend so much time data-basing and analyzing songs and melodies is in order to be inductive in my generalizations and conclusions. Sure, as Michael notes, my approach will be "statistical" rather than "epistemological," and it doesn't really provide a normative principle for evaluating music -- more like a set of norms of practice. In a way, it's like how Aristotle approach ethics by observing what virtuous men did. He collected a lot of data and generalized from that -- though he was also carrying around with him a few pre-fab criteria of what qualified as virtuous. (How else could he sort out the virtuous men from the ones who weren't?)

Some of my pre-fab ideas are basically just categories, conceptual file folders into which to toss the myriad melodies I'm going to examine. For instance, there are ABA and AABA song forms, a no-brainer -- sort and toss, sort and toss. There are songs that have primarily upward trending melodies vs. songs of the opposite kind -- and some of the most interesting songs that have sections with tendencies counter to the other sections, as well as songs with what Meyer calls "Sisyphean" sequences, where a phrase moves upward and back down partway, then up higher and back down partway, so that the overall trend is upward melodically, but with a sense of a zig-zag process of one step backward (or downward) for every two steps forward (or upward). This definitely has "dramatic" implications, though of a strictly musical kind (in the absence of a congruent text to give it an extra-musical reference). I'll be using such file folders for sorting and analyzing melodies, and I expect to find out a lot just as an observer and cataloguer of data.

Some of my pre-fab ideas, though, are more like hypotheses relating musical attributes to emotional or philosophical meaning: upward trending melodies connote assertion as against acceptance, end-accented rhythmic groupings connote goal-directedness as against more mechanical or physical motion, etc. Another pre-fab idea I'm using is the idea of hierarchical structure and the need to analyze a piece on the different levels of its structure, in order to thoroughly understand how it works, how the different levels work together or against one another, etc. -- and to do this not just with regard to rhythm but also melody and harmony. These are ideas that seem intuitively obvious to me, but I don't accept them as truths without a LOT of verification, and not just from cherry-picked examples. So, rest assured that I will leave no turned stone unexamined!

At some point, I anticipate that the inductive and hypothetico-deductive approaches will intersect, and I'll get some sort of resolution to my speculations -- and in the process learn a great deal about songs and musical themes, both about what they mean, and how they mean it. In the meantime, I am all ears about Michael's "epistemology of music" approach. I hope he will share it with us, even in rough form. It may touch off a whole new avenue for approaching my own project.

all for now,
reb
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#28 Michael Stuart Kelly

Michael Stuart Kelly

    $$$$$$

  • Root Admin
  • 20,275 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 31 January 2006 - 01:08 AM

Roger,

Have no fear about what you are doing. After I get some time to organize my thoughts on musical epistemology, I will gladly share them with you in order for you to have much food for thought.

Your work on the statistical angle is greatly needed and my only intention is to help highlight and separate the issues.

Rock on and keep an eye out for me for when I catch my breath. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Michael

#29 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:48 PM

Folks, some of the fall-out from the Jan. 14 LAON meeting is that a comment by Nathaniel Branden triggered my resolve to begin work on a book on music aesthetics. Or, some mixture of the music theory, music psychology, and music aesthetics.

The book is based on a lecture I gave in San Francisco in March 2004, and its title is "Serious Schmaltz and Passionate Pop: are there objective indicators of emotion in music?" (That's the subtitle from my talk, but the subtitle for the book is a carefully guarded trade secret. Sorry. :-) [....]

REB


Since my first post about this project in January 2006, I've delivered related talks several times -- twice in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008 and 2009 and in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2009 at the Free Minds summer seminar. My talk in Las Vegas was entitled "Toward an Objectivist Aesthetics of Music," and it contains a great deal of material that will appear in the book, as well as in any future lecture course I will market on CDs and DVDs. I am planning to deliver it again locally in Middle Tennessee, and to apply some of the ideas pedagogically to music students at local colleges and universities. (I already passed along some of those ideas last fall to students at Middle Tennessee State University.)

Here are the four opening paragraphs of my 2009 talk:

It’s generally accepted that the gold standard in aesthetics is: can you explain emotion and meaning in music? Or as Rand herself phrased it: “Why does music make us experience emotions?” And it’s often suggested that Rand’s aesthetic theory fails on just that account. I couldn’t disagree more.

Today I’m going to argue that Ayn Rand’s general insights about art help us go a long way toward answering the question of the emotional meaning of music. Most of the essentials are already present in her writings to apply directly to explaining the meaning and emotional power of music. I will show how a number of general statements she makes about art apply fully well to music, and that she thus did not over-generalize her aesthetics of literature, as some claim.

I am in essential agreement with Rand’s key aesthetic ideas, including virtually all of her general comments about literature. I see them as being pregnant with implications for music, and I build on them in my approach to music. So, I’ll start by borrowing from Rand’s definition of “art” and define “music” as: the selective re-creation of reality according to the composer’s metaphysical value-judgments and by means of the sounds produced by the periodic vibrations of a sonorous body. Or, more briefly, music is the form of art created by the use of sounds of a definite pitch and character.

I have absolutely no doubt that music is one of the arts subsumed by Rand’s definition of art as “re-creation of reality,” and that her definition of “art” is valid. But what intrigues me are several key statements in The Romantic Manifesto about art in general. Let me read each of them, and then pose the question of how each of them pertains to music.


I also think it might be of interest to OL readers to see this brief outline of my 2009 talk, and I'll quote my concluding paragraphs at the end:

I. Introduction -- Some Questions about Music as a Form of Art

A. How does music enable us to grasp metaphysical value-judgments directly, on the perceptual level?
B. How is it possible that anything in music can be "life as I see it"?
C. With what in music are you identifying -- and how can it be applied to your life?

II. Music as a Dynamic Art

A. The attributes of art and music.
B. The basis of our experience of entities, attributes, and actions in music.

III. How are Metaphysical Value-Judgments Embodied in Music?

A. Basic forms of embodied abstractions in music--e.g., Intelligible Universe, Achievability of Values and Happiness, Pursing Values/Striving, Pursuing Values vs. Being Driven, and their relation to upward and downward melody, major and minor harmony, and beginning-accented vs. end-accented rhythm.
B. Complexities of embodied abstractions in music--e.g., mixing kinds of melody, harmony, and rhythm to get poignant or conflicted effects (simultaeous contrast between layers, sequential contrast between sections, climaxes or peaks of melodic motion, "Sisyphean sequences" of melodic motion, etc.).
C. The Heroic or "benevolent" sense of life and the Byronic or "malevolent" sense of life in music--did Beethoven have a "malevolent universe" perspective? If so, in what respect, and what about Chopin and Rachmaninoff, for instance?

IV. Conclusion -- Future Developments in Objectivist Music Aesthetics

In conclusion, there is a lot more research and theorizing to do, and a lot of application of the results to the creation, performance, and consumption of music. But I am convinced that the Objectivist aesthetics can lead us to new insights and enhanced enjoyment in both the theory and practice of music, along the lines I have sketched here today. In regard to theory, I think that the most fertile direction for development is in research. If someone wants to ask what kind of research I envision, I’d be happy to comment. As for applied music aesthetics, it should
• help listeners better understand why their feelings are being stirred by music
• help performers optimize the expressiveness of their playing and singing
• help composers know how better to tug at the heartstrings of their listeners
• help critics to more insightfully evaluate the artistry by which composers and songwriters present emotional meaning in music
• and help teachers to better help listeners, performers, and composers approach their musical experience with more success and enjoyment.
I think that the ideas I’ve presented here today give us reason for optimism about the future of the theory and practice of music.


I used numerous diagrams and audio examples with my talk, so it obviously is not going to be an easy thing to put into book form, certainly not with an accompanying CD using samples for which I'd have to pay royalties. Some of the examples are probably available on YouTube for free listening. This is why the more likely way of disseminating this material is going to be through college lectures. Until I work out the royalties issue. Before then, there is also a lot of listening, analyzing, and writing to do--so, onward!

REB

P.S. -- It's hard to believe that it has been over FIVE YEARS since I announced the beginning of this project. Time flies like an arrow -- and fruit flies like a banana. :-)
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#30 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 13 January 2013 - 09:40 PM

For those who are interested in the latest slate of my writing/publishing projects, the book on music has slipped back to about 5th place. Here is what I'm currently working on:

1. The Logic of Liberty (essays on ethics and politics, most written before 1985, but including my new essay)

2. What They Didn't Teach Me in Music School (a career guide for musicians)

3. You Should Know Better--and You Can! (a guide to logic texts for college students)

4. Will the Real Apollo Please Stand Up? and other essays (all using tetrachotomy analysis)

5. Serious Schmaltz and Passionate Pop (music aesthetics and analysis of classical and popular music)

I'm planning to self-publish #1 this summer; it's done, and I'm just waiting for the JARS 6-month "embargo" to lapse. I'm hoping to finish #2 this spring and put it out in the summer, too. I am about 25 pages into #3, and it's a doozy, with lots of stuff critiquing Copi, Hurley, and Kelley on existential import, standard propositional form, and the laws of thought themselves. I still have a lot to write for #4, but it is about 2/3 done. I may bump it ahead of #3. And last but not quite (as the 5 year old son of a music colleague once said), I don't expect to have the music aesthetics and analysis book done for 3-5 years. I may publish the portion of it on Beethoven's music and sense of life a good bit sooner.

REB


Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#31 BaalChatzaf

BaalChatzaf

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 11,395 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Currently residing in New Jersey, the Bad-a-Bing State.
  • Interests:mathematics, physics, alternative energy sources.

    I am also involved in preparing recorded books for blind and dyslexic folks.

Posted 14 January 2013 - 07:53 AM

Will your new book deal with some of the neurological/physiological aspects of what makes music pleasant to listen to.  In particular the neurological/physiological bases of the scales and chord structures.   I have just about reached the point where I accept the octave (the 2:1 ratio of frequencies)  as a genuine built in neurological property of human hearing.  I would like to learn much more about this and you are just the man to make that possible.

 

Ba'al CHatzaf


אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#32 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:02 PM

Will your new book deal with some of the neurological/physiological aspects of what makes music pleasant to listen to.  In particular the neurological/physiological bases of the scales and chord structures.   I have just about reached the point where I accept the octave (the 2:1 ratio of frequencies)  as a genuine built in neurological property of human hearing.  I would like to learn much more about this and you are just the man to make that possible.

 

Ba'al CHatzaf

 

BC, I think this has already been done about 150 years ago by the great German scientist Helmholtz. Check out his book "On the Sensations of Tone." It's available from Dover.

 

However, I am doing some pioneering work in the neurological/physiological aspects of what makes logicians accept the doctrine of Existential Import. Blockbuster stuff, I tell ya...stay tuned!  :-)

 

REB


Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#33 BaalChatzaf

BaalChatzaf

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 11,395 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Currently residing in New Jersey, the Bad-a-Bing State.
  • Interests:mathematics, physics, alternative energy sources.

    I am also involved in preparing recorded books for blind and dyslexic folks.

Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:12 PM

Will your new book deal with some of the neurological/physiological aspects of what makes music pleasant to listen to.  In particular the neurological/physiological bases of the scales and chord structures.   I have just about reached the point where I accept the octave (the 2:1 ratio of frequencies)  as a genuine built in neurological property of human hearing.  I would like to learn much more about this and you are just the man to make that possible.

 

Ba'al CHatzaf

 

BC, I think this has already been done about 150 years ago by the great German scientist Helmholtz. Check out his book "On the Sensations of Tone." It's available from Dover.

 

However, I am doing some pioneering work in the neurological/physiological aspects of what makes logicians accept the doctrine of Existential Import. Blockbuster stuff, I tell ya...stay tuned!  :-)

 

REB

All gold fish in my pocket are over 6 inches long.  Does that mean there are gold fish in my pocket that are over 6 inches long?

 

Existential Import is the denial of the empty set.  Mathematicians will not accept this because empty sets do exist.  For example the set of all real numbers whose squares are negative.

 

Ba'al Chatzaf 


אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#34 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 24 March 2013 - 07:33 PM

BaalChatzaf, on 14 Jan 2013 - 17:17, said:

Roger Bissell, on 14 Jan 2013 - 17:07, said:

BaalChatzaf, on 14 Jan 2013 - 07:58, said:
Will your new book deal with some of the neurological/physiological aspects of what makes music pleasant to listen to. In particular the neurological/physiological bases of the scales and chord structures. I have just about reached the point where I accept the octave (the 2:1 ratio of frequencies) as a genuine built in neurological property of human hearing. I would like to learn much more about this and you are just the man to make that possible.

Ba'al CHatzaf



BC, I think this has already been done about 150 years ago by the great German scientist Helmholtz. Check out his book "On the Sensations of Tone." It's available from Dover.

However, I am doing some pioneering work in the neurological/physiological aspects of what makes logicians accept the doctrine of Existential Import. Blockbuster stuff, I tell ya...stay tuned! :-)

REB
All gold fish in my pocket are over 6 inches long. Does that mean there are gold fish in my pocket that are over 6 inches long?

Existential Import is the denial of the empty set. Mathematicians will not accept this because empty sets do exist. For example the set of all real numbers whose squares are negative.

Ba'al Chatzaf
1. As (incompletely) stated, "All gold fish in my pocket are over 6 inches long" is ambiguous. You can see this when you try to state its contradictory, which by Aristotelian logic should have an opposite truth value: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT over 6 inches long." This is clearly ambiguous. We aren't told whether it is supposed to mean: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT REAL THINGS that ARE OVER 6 INCHES" or: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE REAL THINGS that ARE NOT OVER 6 INCHES LONG." The first is clearly true; the subject term does not designate real things, and the predicate correctly notes that fact. The second is clearly false; the subject in fact does NOT designate real things, while the predicate incorrectly states that it does. Which means that when you try to unambiguously restate the original, you have two possibilities. When you contradict the first to read: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE REAL THINGS that are over 6 inches long," it is clearly false, as it should be as per Aristotle. And this is clearly different from what you get when you contradict the second to read: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT REAL THINGS that are not over 6 inches long," which is clearly true, as again it should be. So, the issue of Existential Import is really a trumped-up non-issue born of the failure to specify what mode of existence -- independent reality vs. arbitrary mental construct -- is being predicated of the subject term. In normal conversation about the real world, we assume that real existence is being predicated. However, when speaking about things that do NOT exist in the real world, especially arbitrary mental constructs such as "the present King of France" (a la Bertrand Russell) or "all gold fish in my pocket" (a la Ba'al), we have to deliberately step back and make it clear that we are NOT predicating real existence...unless we actually intend to, of course. For instance, if we had accumulated reports from people about their arbitrary mental posits of what gold fish might be in my pocket, we could then coherently say: "All gold fish in my pocket are arbitrary mental constructs that are over 6 inches long" (which might or might not be true, just as: "All sea serpents are imaginary reptiles that are green and scaly" might or might not be true), or: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT arbitrary mental constructs that are over 6 inches long (which again might or might not be true, since some of them might be arbitrary mental constructs that are NOT over 6 inches long). But whichever the case, it means that in cases where the subject is non-existent, the statement must be rewritten with additional words in order to make explicit what we are asserting about the subject. Then (and only then) can we avoid the conundrums that have fueled scores of confusing, inconclusive essays and unnecessary restrictions on the applicability of Aristotle's Square of Opposition and his rules of immediate inference.

2. Empty rooms and empty containers exist, but empty sets do NOT exist. A set is not a container. A set is a collection of things that results from the ~mental~ collecting of some specified things. If there are no things of a particular kind to collect, then there is no collecting, no collection, and ~no set~. Modern logic's embracing of the empty set is very similar to, and just as destructive philosophically as, the idea that the universe could be devoid of things that exist. The universe is not a place or a container that holds all of the things that exist. It ~just is~ the sum total of all those things. If nothing existed, there would be no sum total and no universe. (But even to say "if" in this case is a mistake. The whole notion that the universe's existence is "radically contingent," that it's metaphysically possible that nothing could have existed, is often argued in terms of the universe being a set of things that exist, and that that "set" could have been "empty." Because after all, we can have "empty sets," don't you know.)

REB
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#35 BaalChatzaf

BaalChatzaf

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 11,395 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Currently residing in New Jersey, the Bad-a-Bing State.
  • Interests:mathematics, physics, alternative energy sources.

    I am also involved in preparing recorded books for blind and dyslexic folks.

Posted 25 March 2013 - 07:18 AM


 
1. As (incompletely) stated, "All gold fish in my pocket are over 6 inches long" is ambiguous. You can see this when you try to state its contradictory, which by Aristotelian logic should have an opposite truth value: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT over 6 inches long." This is clearly ambiguous. We aren't told whether it is supposed to mean: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT REAL THINGS that ARE OVER 6 INCHES" or: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE REAL THINGS that ARE NOT OVER 6 INCHES LONG." The first is clearly true; the subject term does not designate real things, and the predicate correctly notes that fact. The second is clearly false; the subject in fact does NOT designate real things, while the predicate incorrectly states that it does. Which means that when you try to unambiguously restate the original, you have two possibilities. When you contradict the first to read: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE REAL THINGS that are over 6 inches long," it is clearly false, as it should be as per Aristotle. And this is clearly different from what you get when you contradict the second to read: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT REAL THINGS that are not over 6 inches long," which is clearly true, as again it should be. So, the issue of Existential Import is really a trumped-up non-issue born of the failure to specify what mode of existence -- independent reality vs. arbitrary mental construct -- is being predicated of the subject term. In normal conversation about the real world, we assume that real existence is being predicated. However, when speaking about things that do NOT exist in the real world, especially arbitrary mental constructs such as "the present King of France" (a la Bertrand Russell) or "all gold fish in my pocket" (a la Ba'al), we have to deliberately step back and make it clear that we are NOT predicating real existence...unless we actually intend to, of course. For instance, if we had accumulated reports from people about their arbitrary mental posits of what gold fish might be in my pocket, we could then coherently say: "All gold fish in my pocket are arbitrary mental constructs that are over 6 inches long" (which might or might not be true, just as: "All sea serpents are imaginary reptiles that are green and scaly" might or might not be true), or: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT arbitrary mental constructs that are over 6 inches long (which again might or might not be true, since some of them might be arbitrary mental constructs that are NOT over 6 inches long). But whichever the case, it means that in cases where the subject is non-existent, the statement must be rewritten with additional words in order to make explicit what we are asserting about the subject. Then (and only then) can we avoid the conundrums that have fueled scores of confusing, inconclusive essays and unnecessary restrictions on the applicability of Aristotle's Square of Opposition and his rules of immediate inference.

2. Empty rooms and empty containers exist, but empty sets do NOT exist. A set is not a container. A set is a collection of things that results from the ~mental~ collecting of some specified things. If there are no things of a particular kind to collect, then there is no collecting, no collection, and ~no set~. Modern logic's embracing of the empty set is very similar to, and just as destructive philosophically as, the idea that the universe could be devoid of things that exist. The universe is not a place or a container that holds all of the things that exist. It ~just is~ the sum total of all those things. If nothing existed, there would be no sum total and no universe. (But even to say "if" in this case is a mistake. The whole notion that the universe's existence is "radically contingent," that it's metaphysically possible that nothing could have existed, is often argued in terms of the universe being a set of things that exist, and that that "set" could have been "empty." Because after all, we can have "empty sets," don't you know.)

REB

The set of four sided triangles is as real as the set of three sided triangles.   Sets do not exist in the physical sense.  They are spooks generated by electro-chemical processes  taking place in our bodies.

 

Ba'al Chatzaf 


אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#36 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:43 PM

BaalChatzaf, on 25 Mar 2013 - 08:23, said:

Roger Bissell, on 24 Mar 2013 - 20:38, said:

BaalChatzaf, on 14 Jan 2013 - 17:17, said:

1. As (incompletely) stated, "All gold fish in my pocket are over 6 inches long" is ambiguous. You can see this when you try to state its contradictory, which by Aristotelian logic should have an opposite truth value: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT over 6 inches long." This is clearly ambiguous. We aren't told whether it is supposed to mean: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT REAL THINGS that ARE OVER 6 INCHES" or: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE REAL THINGS that ARE NOT OVER 6 INCHES LONG." The first is clearly true; the subject term does not designate real things, and the predicate correctly notes that fact. The second is clearly false; the subject in fact does NOT designate real things, while the predicate incorrectly states that it does. Which means that when you try to unambiguously restate the original, you have two possibilities. When you contradict the first to read: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE REAL THINGS that are over 6 inches long," it is clearly false, as it should be as per Aristotle. And this is clearly different from what you get when you contradict the second to read: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT REAL THINGS that are not over 6 inches long," which is clearly true, as again it should be. So, the issue of Existential Import is really a trumped-up non-issue born of the failure to specify what mode of existence -- independent reality vs. arbitrary mental construct -- is being predicated of the subject term. In normal conversation about the real world, we assume that real existence is being predicated. However, when speaking about things that do NOT exist in the real world, especially arbitrary mental constructs such as "the present King of France" (a la Bertrand Russell) or "all gold fish in my pocket" (a la Ba'al), we have to deliberately step back and make it clear that we are NOT predicating real existence...unless we actually intend to, of course. For instance, if we had accumulated reports from people about their arbitrary mental posits of what gold fish might be in my pocket, we could then coherently say: "All gold fish in my pocket are arbitrary mental constructs that are over 6 inches long" (which might or might not be true, just as: "All sea serpents are imaginary reptiles that are green and scaly" might or might not be true), or: "All gold fish in my pocket ARE NOT arbitrary mental constructs that are over 6 inches long (which again might or might not be true, since some of them might be arbitrary mental constructs that are NOT over 6 inches long). But whichever the case, it means that in cases where the subject is non-existent, the statement must be rewritten with additional words in order to make explicit what we are asserting about the subject. Then (and only then) can we avoid the conundrums that have fueled scores of confusing, inconclusive essays and unnecessary restrictions on the applicability of Aristotle's Square of Opposition and his rules of immediate inference.

2. Empty rooms and empty containers exist, but empty sets do NOT exist. A set is not a container. A set is a collection of things that results from the ~mental~ collecting of some specified things. If there are no things of a particular kind to collect, then there is no collecting, no collection, and ~no set~. Modern logic's embracing of the empty set is very similar to, and just as destructive philosophically as, the idea that the universe could be devoid of things that exist. The universe is not a place or a container that holds all of the things that exist. It ~just is~ the sum total of all those things. If nothing existed, there would be no sum total and no universe. (But even to say "if" in this case is a mistake. The whole notion that the universe's existence is "radically contingent," that it's metaphysically possible that nothing could have existed, is often argued in terms of the universe being a set of things that exist, and that that "set" could have been "empty." Because after all, we can have "empty sets," don't you know.)

REB
The set of four sided triangles is as real as the set of three sided triangles. Sets do not exist in the physical sense. They are spooks generated by electro-chemical processes taking place in our bodies.

Ba'al Chatzaf
If a set is merely a non-physical entity (?) or mental collection of items, and the set is something (whatever-it-is) that is generated by physical brain processes, it still has a nature, and it still has contents, whether or not those contents correspond to physical reality. To carry out a process of mentally collecting items and forming a set, the brain has to operate on the products of other brain products, whether those generated from currently perceived items or those generated from items that have been remembered or whatever. Your brain can produce a mental image of a green triangle, and so it can also produce a set containing one or more such imaginary items. Green-ness and three-sidedness ~can~ coexist in reality, even if they in fact ~may not~. But even though your brain cannot produce a mental image of a four-sided triangle, because four-sidedness and three-sideness do not and cannot coexist in reality, and therefore such a thing is not imaginary but arbitrarily posited (and contradictory), nonetheless the set of such impossible items would not be empty, but full of arbitrary posits of that kind. As you say, the two sets are equally real (equally brain-generated, that is), but the latter is no more empty than the former. The difference is that the mentally constructed (brain generated) contents of the former may but need not exist in reality, while the mentally constructed (brain generated) contents of the latter cannot exist in reality. Neither of them is an ~empty~ set, however, unless we arbitrarily define "set" as that which contains ~real~ (mind-independent) items. But even then, we are ruling out empty sets, since something which does not contain real items is by definition ~not~ a set.

REB
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#37 BaalChatzaf

BaalChatzaf

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 11,395 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Currently residing in New Jersey, the Bad-a-Bing State.
  • Interests:mathematics, physics, alternative energy sources.

    I am also involved in preparing recorded books for blind and dyslexic folks.

Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:49 PM

The empty set is as much something as a non-empty set.  It is a collection which does not have any elements.  Think of your chest of drawers after all the socks are in the washing machine.  The set of socks in your chest of drawers is empty (no doubt a temporary state of affairs).


אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#38 Roger Bissell

Roger Bissell

    $$$$$$

  • VIP
  • 2,159 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests:philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

Posted 25 March 2013 - 09:32 PM

BaalChatzaf, on 25 Mar 2013 - 15:54, said:
The empty set is as much something as a non-empty set. It is a collection which does not have any elements. Think of your chest of drawers after all the socks are in the washing machine. The set of socks in your chest of drawers is empty (no doubt a temporary state of affairs).

There is no set of socks in my empty chest of drawers. The set of socks is the groups of socks, wherever they are, whether they are in some container or not. The chest of drawers is no more an empty set of socks than the washing machine is a full set of socks. Those containers are just where the socks are or aren't. The socks themselves are the set, and wherever they aren't, there is no set of socks, full or empty.

A set is not a container that either has things in it or does not. A set ~is~ the collected totality of things mentally or physically gathered, whether or not it is also in a container of some kind.

A set is not like a bucket or a room or a silverware chest. A silverware chest with no knives, forks, or spoons in it is not an "empty silverware set," any more than it is an "empty set of square circles." The silverware set ~is~ the collected totality of knives, forks, or spoons, not the thing that they are placed in.

A concept, which is a set of like things, ~is~ those things ~as the mind/brain holds them to be a group of similars~. We speak of the "content" of concepts, but that does not mean that concepts are empty forms or containers into which we pour mental contents of one kind or another. Concepts ~are~ the things that are ~mentally formed into~ a single unit, the group(ed together) similar things. The form is the grouped content, not some prior existing container into which the grouped content is poured.

The same is true for sets, but only more generally, since sets are not necessarily a grouping of similars, just a grouping of things selected for attention on ~some~ basis or other.

REB
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#39 Brant Gaede

Brant Gaede

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 15,335 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tucson, AZ
  • Interests:All kinds of stuff

Posted 25 March 2013 - 10:00 PM

Isn't an empty set merely a bridge between sets that are not empty?

--Brant
but I don't know the answer or even really understand my own question

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#40 Merlin Jetton

Merlin Jetton

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 1,701 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 26 March 2013 - 05:39 AM

A set is not a container that either has things in it or does not. A set ~is~ the collected totality of things mentally or physically gathered, whether or not it is also in a container of some kind.

A set is not like a bucket or a room or a silverware chest.

 

I disagree with the first sentence. I would agree with the second sentence if "or physically" were deleted. I agree with the third sentence.

 

A set is a "mental container" with membership criteria. It is analogous to a physical container with a label on it. It isn't physical but can be depicted as such, e.g. in Venn diagrams.

 

An empty set is a set with no members because nothing meets the criteria, e.g. buildings more than 100 miles tall. Membership criteria that are contradictory, e.g. a triangle with 4 sides, makes an empty set.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users