Religious music does weird things to me


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Jonathan,

This is a premise I think you should check.

It's not a "premise," but a conclusion. It is an identification of the reality of years of observing people having great difficulty classify the emotional content of music.

I worked in composing music for films for a time. And most recently, I have been studying how to make videos. Obviously, the idea of including music in on my radar.

There are many, many places to get music where it is categorized according to emotion. In fact, mapping music to emotions is big business for companies like Muzak because it works.

Check this out for a quick example that is easily accessible:

Google Audio Library

Notice that each song is described as bright, calm, happy, dramatic, inspirational, angry and so on.

The fact that someone has categorized incidental music according to emotion is not the same thing as scientifically testing listeners' ability to identify the same emotions. And it says nothing about listeners' ability to identify emotions in non-canned, non-incidental music.

The same is true of color sets. The visual arts industries categorize color palettes according to emotions/concepts (such as romantic, cheerful, elegant, solitary, sad, tranquil, etc.)...

Examples of books on the subject, here.

...but that doesn't mean that the average viewer is capable of matching those identifications. As is true of categorizing music by mood, one person's selecting and presenting his own list of color combinations and their emotional effects is not proof that the majority of people would categorize the combinations in the same way.

So, you're doing what Rand did. You're confirming your biases. You're looking for examples which support your conclusion, and not for examples which refute it. You're acting as if someone's simply categorizing a collection of music samples is the same thing as scientifically testing if a majority/consensus of other people would also categorize the samples the same way. You're also not considering the fact that certain relevant information about Google Audio's method of classification has not been disclosed, such as the total number of musical samples that were considered, and the number of samples that were rejected because they were not easily categorized and because they did not serve the project's purpose of finding only music which very transparently connects with the most people.

Here's a program for composing canned music for films.

Sonicfire

Notice the section called "mood mapping."

I've used resources similar to Google Audio and Sonicfire, including Apple's iMovie collection of jingles, mood snippets and sound effects. When creating projects, I've often asked fellow designers, clients and friends what they think of certain pieces of music versus others being included in a project, and they often disagree with me, and with each other, about the music's mood and meaning, despite the fact that the people at Apple and Google have officially categorized it under one mood/concept or another.

And keep in mind that those were pieces which were chosen for their transparency -- for their seemingly universal emotional expressiveness. Music becomes even less capable of delivering a majority interpretation the farther you get away from cliched, canned, incidental music.

I agree with several of your criticisms of Rand's understanding of music, but disagree with others, like your statement above, for instance. (In college, I even tried to go through that clunky On The Sensations of Tone by Hemholtz that Rand recommended, but I didn't understand a damn thing back then :smile: .)

I'm open to being proved wrong. Show me the science of hundreds or thousands of people being tested for emotional responses to music, and not just to incidental music, while being denied access to all "outside considerations," and while not being artificially prompted or limited in their choice of how they wish to spontaneously classify the music, and then of their successfully identifying the exact same emotions, and I'll gladly reconsider my position.

I am going to do an in-depth mulling over the nature of art, though, before I write a lot about this.

Also human nature.

That's great, but mulling isn't going to get us anywhere on this subject. Your introspecting and reviewing the theories will never cancel out the first-hand experiences that I have of witnessing lots of other people disagreeing about the emotional content of the same pieces of music.

At the present, I think Rand's view of art is really good for a small spectrum of human experience, but her notion that art solely models values is not the only reason humans engage in art. For example, in my current understanding, living itself is experienced in stories. We think in stories. I believe a lot of art exists to put us in a trance that prompts our minds to free-float about stories, even when the stories are nothing but random daydreaming. Music fits this view perfectly. It doesn't provide the stories, but it provides the trance to unlock them.

So I think the nature of stories is epistemologically just as important as the nature of concepts. That's just one thing that I want to explore.

I find a lot of value in Rand's observations on art, but it's too bad that she wasn't in a better place in her life when she wrote it. To me, it has the vibe of an exercise in weakness attempting to disguise itself as strength. There's just so much puffing and posing, and constructing of straw men and attacking them. When she's vilifying one alleged theorist or another, I keep asking myself, "Who is she talking about? Who does she imagine held that position, or believed what she claims?" The Romantic Manifesto would have worked so much better if it had left out the huffing and puffing and had been structured as Rand's personal, fledgling inquiry into the field of aesthetics rather than the official Objectivist book of aesthetic laws and final answers to everything.

J

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"Objectivishistic"? You must have a key programmed to put up the entire word by hitting it once. I prefer "Objectivishistically" because it's longer, therefore more impressive to hoi intellectual poll

Randian claims of truth in esthetics are scientifically refutable because they weren't scientific in the first place, begging the question if science in esthetics per se is possible. There's not much science for Randian critics to say she had no science. It seems like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. So, Jonathan, where is your own scientific esthetics? It would have to be universal truth washing over everything. If you don't have one who does? Or parts of one? For me Rand goes most off the tracks when she inserts morality into her esthetics for that extra punch. I think her bias was more to the moralizing than the esthetics. I read somewhere (N. Branden?) she claimed that passing moral judgments was her number one thing above all else.

Frankly, I suspect Ayn Rand didn't get laid enough in the 1960s, giving much of what she wrote a somewhat grumpy, accusatory texture. A big exception was her article on the launch of Apollo 11. If you're happy at home that will get projected. If not what you think about existential to that is more bad than good for there's all that bad out there. That wasn't the case for man going to the moon. But even if one lived in the wonderful Rand imagined European world of pre-1914, you'd need that happy home front just as much as you do today. The difference is it would be easier to acquire if you weren't wrapped up in that man as superman bullshit. Maybe man as superman was Rand's answer to man as superman Soviet Man, ironically contradicting through esthetics her impotence of evil philosophical theme. You gotta go out and slay the dragon, but she had to sublimate her dragons so much her dragon slayers retired to Colorado or fought each other instead because of "errors of knowledge." So Dagny and Hank finally see the light: "Oh, we can have our battle and eat it too by being passive-aggressive." Scuttle the ship and watch the rats drown from your lifeboat. Dragon slayer hero becomes a rat drowner.

--Brant

I drowned rats in Vietnam--literally--but first I had to get them into the trap, then I took them to the perimeter--we were surrounded by flood water--and dropped the trap into the water--it was like Dr. Sadler in the Project X trap but they lasted a little longer--more heroically I wanted to take on the real big rats too smart for the trap (that's why they got big I suppose) so I waited for them on guard duty one night with my 12-gauge pump and lo and behold a huge rat revealed himself on a naked rafter and I raised the shotgun to fire--and didn't--I couldn't fire the 12 gauge at 2:00 AM on guard duty without 11 Special Forces soldiers jumping out of bed grabbing their assault rifles and coming on the run, some of whom might have gotten a pellet ricocheting off the inside of the galvanized roof

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I recommend a reading of Art And Cognition in TRM. Rand gives music special attention, at length there.

She makes very few claims allocated to her (not about music, at least) - in fact, admits :

"It is only in the field of specifically ~musical~ perception that man is still in a state of early infancy.

In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others--and therefore cannot prove--which aspects of himself are inherent to the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness. He experiences it as an indivisible whole...

...

Until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined, ~no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgement is possible in the field of music~.[...]

The nature of musical perception has not been discovered because the key to the secret of music is ~physiological~...

and the answer would require the joint effort of a physiologist, a psychologist and a philosopher (an esthetician)".

pp50-64

(Again, 'objectivity' isn't a scientific testing of a consensus of people, J.)

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Another appropriate passage:

"Until it is brought to the stage of conceptualization, we have to treat musical tastes or preferences as a subjective matter--not in the metaphysical, but in the epistemological sense; i.e., not in the sense that these preferences are, in fact, causeless and arbitrary, but in the sense that we do not know their cause. No one, therefore, can claim the ~objective~ superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it's every man for himself--and ~only~ for himself".

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I'm open to being proved wrong. Show me the science of hundreds or thousands of people being tested for emotional responses to music, and not just to incidental music, while being denied access to all "outside considerations," and while not being artificially prompted or limited in their choice of how they wish to spontaneously classify the music, and then of their successfully identifying the exact same emotions, and I'll gladly reconsider my position.

Jonathan,

I sure doesn't sound like it.

You've already told me I'm just confirming my biases.

I'm not going to waste time on this if that is going to be the level of the response.

Let me just say this. The billions of dollars circulating in the music industry go toward something that is bought freely, as opposed to food or shelter. There is an enormous amount of industry research and split testing that has gone on to test all kinds of things about music and emotions.

But I won't even go into the science (of which there is a lot, especially in the field of music therapy) if you are going to say no right out of the gate.

Also, if you wish to dismiss business practices as evidence when they make that much money and say dismissive things like "someone categorized" instead of "why did they do that to increase their sales?," I suspect you are more interested in confirming your own biases rather than digging into the issue.

So far, I disagree with you on music.

Michael

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone to whom that wish is relevant.

The only ones to whom Thanksgiving is irrelevant are entitled ingrates... and there are none of those here. :wink:

Greg

What she means is if you are not a turkey.

:)

Michael

MSK's smiley-face noted, but what I meant was, if you live where Thanksgiving is celebrated. There might not be any "entitled ingrates" here, but there are persons who live in Canada, and there's one who lives in South Africa, and possibly there are others who live in other places where Thanksgiving Day is not celebrated.

Ellen

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I think Rand used "recreation of reality" in a broader sense than you are, Ellen, as in another, artificial reality.

An artificial reality is the sense in which I'm using it. That isn't imitative. Rand was far from keen on the sort of art that claims to show "reality as it is."

Ellen

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The definition pertains to all art, which doesn't necessitate that the whole statement does.

Seriously? You actually believe that when Rand said, "As a re-creation of reality, a work of art has to be representational; its freedom of stylization is limited by the requirement of intelligibility; if it does not present an intelligible subject, it ceases to be art," she was speaking only of visual art?

I think that what she was talking about in that context was visual art, not art generically.

Are you saying that you think that her view was that literature did not have to be intelligible? The requirement of intelligibility applied only to visual art, since that was the "context" in which she made the statement about what re-creations of reality must do?!!! All of the other arts could be completely unintelligible yet qualify as art by her standards?

No, I don't think that she thought that literature doesn't have to be intelligible. But she wasn't talking about literature or any other art form except visual - and specifically by contrast to decorative arts - in that context.

Conceptually convey isn't "representational," as that term is used in regard to visual art and as I think she was using the term in the context of the quote you take as referring to all art.

We're not talking about your opinion of what "representational" means, or how people other than Rand often use it. We're talking about Rand's meaning of the term. [....]

Rand wrote, "But in order to re-create reality, it is the sensory-perceptual level of man's awareness that literature has to convey conceptually: the reality of concrete, individual men and events, of specific sights, sounds, tectures, etc."

She meant that literature is conceptually representational. It creates imagined entities and events which one experienced as if they were percepts. Not as percepts, but as if they were percepts. That is her meaning of "representational."

Experiencing something "as if" it were perceptual (there aren't any such phenomena as "percepts") isn't perception. The quote you gave is a place where I think that Rand made a mistake which affected her whole theory adversely, and which I've already mentioned. But with the visual arts, there is something actually perceptible, which is what I think she was meaning in the sentence you're taking as the basis of your case about what Rand was trying to accomplish re music.

The statement doesn't make sense interpreted as you interpret it, since Rand didn't think that music - or architecture, or dance as such - present "subjects," intelligible or otherwise. (Also, she specifically said that architecture doesn't "re-create reality.")

Yes, I'm saying that literature - aural or written, no pictures - cannot be "representational."

Okay, then apparently that's the problem. You seem to be confusing your views with Rand's. You're imposing your meaning of the term onto her. She did see literature as being representational. She thought that its nature was to conceptually represent "the reality of concrete, individual men and events, of specific sights, sounds, textures, etc." And also to "represent man's fundamental view of himself and of existence."

No, I'm not confusing my views with Rand's, or imposing my meaning on her. Note that I said "as I think she was using the term" in that context. The word "represent" in the passage above isn't the same meaning. Whether Rand thought of literature specifically as "representational" or not, I don't think is clear. Maybe yes, maybe no. But the 15 pages - about 4,000 words - of her discussion of music in "Art and Cognition," the same essay from which the "representational" quote comes, make clear that she did NOT think of music as "representational." You have to keep distorting what she said in those pages in order to attribute to her beliefs and goals which are contradictory or contrary to what she did say.

She wrote:

"What are the valid forms of artand why these?...The proper forms of art present a selective re-creation of reality in terms needed by mans cognitive faculty, which includes his entity-perceiving senses, and thus assist the integration of the various elements of a conceptual consciousness. Literature deals with concepts, the visual arts with sight and touch, music with hearing. Each art fulfills the function of bringing mans concepts to the perceptual level of his consciousness and allowing him to grasp them directly, as if they were percepts."

She is not saying that art must re-create reality by presenting actual perceptual entities and/or events, but rather that art must re-create reality by conveying concepts or likenesses of entities and/or events "as if they were percepts."

The "as if" part is what you seem to have missed or misunderstood.

She goes on to say, explicitly, that music is different.

Rand wasn't trying to turn music into a language.

Yes, she was. In order to qualify as art by her definition and criteria, music needed to become an objective language of emotions which told a story. A mere mood or single emotion wasn't enough. It needed to be a coherent chain of emotion-events: a story.

Here's Rand:

"The subconscious material has to flow because no single image can capture the meaning of the musical experience, the mind needs a succession of images..."

In other words, it needs a story.

She then gives examples of the types of images that music evokes, such as climbing mountains and fighting on barricades, and ending by making those events into stories which result in success.

She claims that those processes happen, on an individual basis, but not that they are in the music or ever will be. She isn't trying to insert them into the music or turn them into a story. Whatever "story" is thought of, she says is for each person to say for himself.

An "objective vocabulary," she said. Not language. We discussed before that "vocabulary" isn't limited to "language." She specifically said "a mathematical one."

She believed that the mathematical proportions of music somehow added up to an emotional language. The series of emotions in succession created a story of events which presented an intelligible subject and meaning.

Nope. An objective vocabulary, not a language. Not a story. Not a subject, intelligible or otherwise. And "meaning" only in the sense of physiologically produced "depersonalized" emotion series.

Ellen

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Jonathan,

Just so you don't think I'm talking out of my ass about music, which is the impression you gave, here are a few of the books in my library. I wish I could say I have read them all, but I got them at the wrong time in my life, so I have only skimmed them. (I have been looking into story as my primary focus right now.)

Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation by David Huron

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel Levitin

The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature by Daniel Levitin

Music, The Brain, And Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination by Robert Jourdain

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr (this is an older work than the others and probably more speculative than scientific, but I love Storr's insights)
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

That's not all, but it's a good start. Every time I pass the shelf where my books on music and audio are, I pick up one of these, skim a little and sigh, hoping for more time one day. :smile: I'm particularly fascinated by fMRI scans and hormone secretions (dopamine, serotonin, etc.) with music.

I did read a lot of stuff on music and emotions in another time of my life, but those works are not nearly as good as the ones I listed above. Here are just a few from before:

Emotion and Meaning in Music by Leonard B. Meyer

The Language of Music by Deryck Cooke (an earlier edition than the one linked here)

Psychology of Music by Carl E. Seashore

Principles of Rhythm by Paul Creston (not as relevant to emotions, but I thought it was when I bought it way back when :smile: )

This also includes a huge number of books on music composition, theory, orchestration, etc., that I don't feel like looking up and listing and I already mentioned Helmholtz in a previous post. Also, I used to own this: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, all 20 volumes. I got it when it first came out (and getting it through Brazilian customs at the time was a fist-fight.) There was a ton of stuff in there about music and emotions and I was always digging into it. I later sold that collection to support my crack habit during my dark days.

I know I've forgotten a bunch of stuff.

Like I said earlier, I haven't even talked about music therapy, which has a vast amount of scientific literature, which I keep scratching at the surface of, but I fully intend to dig into it. This deals with all kinds of interactions between music and emotions and the stakes are not just enjoyment.

On another level, I currently use the triune brain approach when dealing with how music interacts with the mind, not as a perfect physical description, but as a working division of the brain. It's close enough to be useful because music and sound operate somewhat differently at different levels of the brain. Ditto for emotions.

So the idea of saying Chord X elicits Emotion Y (something like Rand's idea of a musical vocabulary) is not even in the ballpark of where I am looking. But that doesn't mean nothing general can be said.

For example, on a common sense level, let's go with your oversimplification that it's all subjective.

Is there anyone on earth who would classify the Gregorian chant Dies Irae as upbeat and happy? Or a Brazilian Escola de Samba presentation (or maybe a marching band playing a Sousa march) as mournful and resigned?

In any culture at all?

If the answer is no, that is already an indication that judgement of music and emotions is not just subjective. There is something objective at work, too. If the answer is yes (an honest yes), I would like to meet that person.

Michael

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So the idea of saying Chord X elicits Emotion Y (something like Rand's idea of a musical vocabulary) is not even in the ballpark of where I am looking. But that doesn't mean nothing general can be said.

Rand wasn't talking about so simple a notion as "Chord X elicits Emotion Y," although Jonathan claimed that she was talking about something almost that simple in a post (#73) some ways back.

Ellen

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Rand wasn't talking about so simple a notion as "Chord X elicits Emotion Y," although Jonathan claimed that she was talking about something almost that simple in a post some ways back.

Ellen,

I agree.

:)

(Surprised? :) )

I was going to correct that. However, as I understood Rand back when I was working on a book on musical epistemology, I believed she was talking about something like a collection of musical elements that would have clear definitions in terms of their relationship to emotions. I imagined that to be rhythmic patterns, melodic motives, etc.

Michael

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Jonathan, on 02 Dec 2014 - 2:51 PM, said:

I'm open to being proved wrong. Show me the science of hundreds or thousands of people being tested for emotional responses to music, and not just to incidental music, while being denied access to all "outside considerations," and while not being artificially prompted or limited in their choice of how they wish to spontaneously classify the music, and then of their successfully identifying the exact same emotions, and I'll gladly reconsider my position.

Jonathan,

I sure doesn't sound like it.

The best way to find out would be to post scientific studies on the subject and then see how open to them I am.

You've already told me I'm just confirming my biases.

Yes, "confirmation bias" is the term that I used to describe what you were doing. If I missed something -- if you've posted examples of your having scientifically sought to refute your hypothesis rather than just support it with non-science -- I'll withdraw the claim of confirmation bias and apologize.

Let me just say this. The billions of dollars circulating in the music industry go toward something that is bought freely, as opposed to food or shelter. There is an enormous amount of industry research and split testing that has gone on to test all kinds of things about music and emotions.

The same is true of the visual arts industries and the effects of color. Lots of time and money has gone into studying the emotional effects of color combinations. That time and money has resulted in valuable information which has helped businesses make money, but it hasn't led to the conclusion that all or even most people interpret all palettes of colors as evoking the same emotional responses. Some palettes of colors very reliably evoke the same emotions in most people, but many other palettes do not. The same is true of music. The amount of time and money put into researching either music or color is not proof of the universal communicative capacities of either medium.

But I won't even go into the science (of which there is a lot, especially in the field of music therapy) if you are going to say no right out of the gate.

I'm not going to say "no" right out of the gate. I'm asking to see the science! I'm begging to see it! The only thing that I'm saying "no" to right out of the gate is non-science. Please, post the science!

Also, if you wish to dismiss business practices as evidence when they make that much money and say dismissive things like "someone categorized" instead of "why did they do that to increase their sales?," I suspect you are more interested in confirming your own biases rather than digging into the issue.

I'm not dismissing business practices. I'm identifying the fact of reality that we don't know the methods that those businesses used in collecting, analyzing and categorizing the music. As I said in my last post, we don't know how many pieces of music were rejected in their attempt to categorize music by emotion. That knowledge is highly relevant toward any claims about music's ability to universally communicate emotion. Without that knowledge, it is a non-sequitur to assert that those businesses' having categorized incidental music according to emotion is anywhere near to being proof of the universality or objectivity of emotional response to music.

Just so you don't think I'm talking out of my ass about music, which is the impression you gave...

I don't think that you're talking out of your ass. I recognize that you have a lot of knowledge and expert-level experience with music. I'm simply disagreeing with one position of yours. My challenging you to provide scientific evidence to support your claims should not be taken as a vicious attack and personal insult.

...here are a few of the books in my library. I wish I could say I have read them all, but I got them at the wrong time in my life, so I have only skimmed them. (I have been looking into story as my primary focus right now.)

Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation by David Huron

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel Levitin

The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature by Daniel Levitin

Music, The Brain, And Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination by Robert Jourdain

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr (this is an older work than the others and probably more speculative than scientific, but I love Storr's insights)

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

I did read a lot of stuff on music and emotions in another time of my life, but those works are not nearly as good as the ones I listed above. Here are just a few from before:

Emotion and Meaning in Music by Leonard B. Meyer

The Language of Music by Deryck Cooke (an earlier edition than the one linked here)

Psychology of Music by Carl E. Seashore

Principles of Rhythm by Paul Creston (not as relevant to emotions, but I thought it was when I bought it way back when :smile: )

Do any of the above books present scientific research into the belief that all music reliably evokes the same emotions in almost all individuals? Do any of them show hundreds or thousands of people being tested for emotional responses to multiple different samples and styles of music, and not just to incidental music, while being denied access to all "outside considerations," and while not being artificially prompted or limited in their choice of how they wish to spontaneously classify the music? Do any of the authors actively seek to scientifically refute their own hypotheses? If so, I'd love to review the research.

That's not all, but it's a good start. Every time I pass the shelf where my books on music and audio are, I pick up one of these, skim a little and sigh, hoping for more time one day. :smile: I'm particularly fascinated by fMRI scans and hormone secretions (dopamine, serotonin, etc.) with music.

So the idea of saying Chord X elicits Emotion Y (something like Rand's idea of a musical vocabulary) is not even in the ballpark of where I am looking. But that doesn't mean nothing general can be said.

For example, on a common sense level, let's go with your oversimplification that it's all subjective.

Is there anyone on earth who would classify the Gregorian chant Dies Irae as upbeat and happy? Or a Brazilian Escola de Samba presentation (or maybe a marching band playing a Sousa march) as mournful and resigned?

In any culture at all?

I don't know. I've read that people from different times have interpreted music differently than we currently do. For example, where we think of bass notes as being low, people in certain cultures in the past thought of them as being high. I would imagine that their having that perspective on the effects of sound might make them interpret any piece of music differently than we do.

If the answer is no, that is already an indication that judgement of music and emotions is not just subjective. There is something objective at work, too. If the answer is yes (an honest yes), I would like to meet that person.

Is there anyone on Earth who would classify a color palette of pink, lime green, and bright orange as mournful and resigned, or a palette of black, violet, and shale gray as energetic and cheerful? I would suspect not. Logically, does it therefore follow that all color palettes are as universal in the emotions that they evoke?

If I were to show 1,000 people a color palette of pink, lime green and bright orange, and 90 to 100 percent of them were to describe it as "cheerful," would that be proof in your opinion that abstract arrangements of colors are objective in the emotions that they evoke? Would it be proof, in your opinion, that any and every other possible palette of colors would necessarily evoke such a near-universal response?

J

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Jonathan,

At least look at the books I posted.

I gave you the links so all you have to do is click.

The Amazon preview is enough to get a gist. If that is too much time to be bothered with, how about skimming the Table of Contents of each?

Then we can talk and you won't have to ask so many leading questions and make so many irrelevant analogies couched in strong opinions.

(For someone who is "begging for science," I don't recommend the process of not looking at information when it is offered. Do as you wish, though.)

Michael

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I think that what she was talking about in that context was visual art, not art generically.

She used her definition's genus in the statement. She said, "As a re-creation of reality, a work of art has to be representational..." That is the same thing as saying, "As a work of art, a work of art has to be representational." There is no getting around the fact that she is referring to her criteria of all art.

No, I don't think that she thought that literature doesn't have to be intelligible.

Why don't you think that? After all, you claim that she was only talking about visual art in that statement. You seem to be randomly picking and choosing which aspects of the statement that you want to apply to all art and which that you want to apply only to visual art.

But she wasn't talking about literature or any other art form except visual - and specifically by contrast to decorative arts - in that context.

Her use of the phrase "As a re-creation of reality" is her use of her definition and criteria of all art, therefore what she says in the second half of the same sentence refers to all art. The context in which she said it doesn't change that fact.

The statement doesn't make sense interpreted as you interpret it, since Rand didn't think that music - or architecture, or dance as such - present "subjects," intelligible or otherwise. (Also, she specifically said that architecture doesn't "re-create reality.")

You're confusing the concept of "subject" with the concept of "subject matter." Rand's requirement that all art must have an intelligible subject applies to all of the arts, including music, architecture and dance: She expected and required them to be about something -- heroism, depravity, love, struggle, triumph, failure, etc. -- and that that thematic something, that subject, must be identifiable/intelligible. When she said that every work of art must have an intelligible subject, she didn't mean that it must have perceptible "subject matter."

She goes on to say, explicitly, that music is different.

Yes. Her view was that music was different in that it was a language of emotions -- it did not deal in concretes or even descriptions of concretes, but rather told a story via emotions. She believed that it communicated the composer's view of man and existence. She also believed that one mood or emotion wasn't enough to do that in art, and that a series of emotions were needed in order to add up to a story of emotional events which would deliver the composer's meaning.

She claims that those processes happen, on an individual basis, but not that they are in the music or ever will be. She isn't trying to insert them into the music or turn them into a story. Whatever "story" is thought of, she says is for each person to say for himself.

She was saying that each individual brings his own details to experiencing the plot of emotions in music, but that those details aren't important. Her view was that the emotions themselves were the story, and that the details didn't really matter. In a "triumphant" section of music, Rand might envision vikings raising their swords to the sky in victory, where Frank might see Shogun ninjas lighting a victory fire. Either way, her view was that the triumph was in the music, as were the emotional events that preceded it in the music's story.

Nope. An objective vocabulary, not a language. Not a story. Not a subject, intelligible or otherwise. And "meaning" only in the sense of physiologically produced "depersonalized" emotion series.

Wrong. She expected that music would one day be discovered to have objectively intelligible subjects (not subject matter) and meanings. Some day in the future, she would be shown to have been right about her judgments of the subjects/meanings of works of music, and also of the morality of their composers. Beethoven's work, for example, would be objectively shown to have the nasty subjects and meanings that she believed them to have -- man being fated to doom and despair and all that.

J

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Jonathan,

At least look at the books I posted.

I gave you the links so all you have to do is click.

The Amazon preview is enough to get a gist. If that is too much time to be bothered with, how about skimming the Table of Contents of each?

Then we can talk and you won't have to ask so many leading questions and make so many irrelevant analogies couched in strong opinions.

(For someone who is "begging for science," I don't recommend the process of not looking at information when it is offered. Do as you wish, though.)

Michael

Well, I've been in this same type of discussion countless times in the past, Michael. I ask someone for specific evidence to back up their claims, then they post a list of articles or books for me to read, and then when I take the time to do so, I learn that the specific evidence that I asked for isn't in any of them.

J

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If the composer selects varying tonalities with the intent of indicating certain emotions, and the listener, while hearing them accurately, feels other emotions--we'd have a big problem, one of miscommunication. Evidently, in the main there isn't a problem.

That's all the evidence we should need.

This all entails man's consciousness, less of scientific proof.

What is far more interesting in Rand's thoughts, is not so much the fidelity of emotions at this "first phase" (as I think of it) - but the "second phase" which immediately follows, when a group of people do have the same or very similar emotions on listening to a passage of music - but react to those same emotions in very dissimilar ways.

i.e. according to their various "senses of life".

One may have a feeling of serenity, another, irritation, and so on.

That's fascinating, and the experience of my own, as compared with other people's responses to a piece music, tends to confirm it.

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"Studies either confirm what you already know by your own common sense... or they're wrong."

--Dennis Prager

Greg :wink:

A famous scientist in he 1920s, maybe a German, was asked if he would believe something if he saw it with his own eyes. "Certainly not!", he replied. "First I would test it with many instruments."

You and Dennis Prager need to stay below decks and let the officers dictate where the ship is going so it doesn't end up on the rocks of "common sense."

--Brant

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"Studies either confirm what you already know by your own common sense... or they're wrong."

--Dennis Prager

Greg :wink:

A famous scientist in he 1920s, maybe a German, was asked if he would believe something if he saw it with his own eyes. "Certainly not!", he replied. "First I would test it with many instruments."

Yeah, think of how far "common sense" would get you while flying an aircraft in zero visibility.

You and Dennis Prager need to stay below decks and let the officers dictate where the ship is going so it doesn't end up on the rocks of "common sense."

--Brant

Don't forget that Dennis Prager has a "university"!

J

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"Studies either confirm what you already know by your own common sense... or they're wrong."

--Dennis Prager

Greg :wink:

A famous scientist in he 1920s, maybe a German, was asked if he would believe something if he saw it with his own eyes. "Certainly not!", he replied. "First I would test it with many instruments."

Yeah, think of how far "common sense" would get you while flying an aircraft in zero visibility.

You and Dennis Prager need to stay below decks and let the officers dictate where the ship is going so it doesn't end up on the rocks of "common sense."

--Brant

Don't forget that Dennis Prager has a "university"!

J

When I was learning to fly my instructor illegally took me into the clouds and gave me the controls. (The safety was our low altitude below IFR traffic.) I couldn't handle it the first time. No problem the second time. JFK jr flew out of a New Jersey airport I used to use and spatial confusion probably killed him and his passengers. Your body refuses to believe your eyes on the instrument readings. Your brain goes crazy with incomprehension. If you have the right trim for the power setting and know you're in trouble but can't make yourself to put in the right control imputs, just let go of the controls. The airplane will save you from yourself.

--Brant

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Well, I've been in this same type of discussion countless times in the past, Michael. I ask someone for specific evidence to back up their claims, then they post a list of articles or books for me to read, and then when I take the time to do so, I learn that the specific evidence that I asked for isn't in any of them.

Jonathan,

Well, I must be faking it, huh?

That's exactly why I'm loathe to discuss this with you. What do I have to do with those others? I don't even think you are talking to me. It feels like you are talking to them and I'm just the thing in front of you that represents them.

Hello.

Pleased to meet you.

I'm not me, though. I'm thing.

Them, really.

:smile:

But I don't want to give up just yet. You might find the first book by Huron more impressive for what you are looking for, but like I said, I haven't read it yet. I've only skimmed it. So I don't want to present any technical conclusions I have from it without doing the work first.

That doesn't mean I can't have a gist of what's in it--to know this issue is discussed in depth enough for me to buy the damn thing. And to recommend it. Especially to someone I believe is intelligent, but only makes wild claims and statements like he is "begging for science" nowadays, but won't look at anything.

Besides, you have very specific agenda-like questions. Will there be scientific experiments referenced in that book that debunk your criticisms of Rand and satisfy the gotcha points of your aggressive online discussions? I don't know if anyone has ever tested your criticisms of Rand and published the results in a peer reviewed journal. I doubt it because I don't think these authors even know who Ayn Rand was.

In Huron's book, though, you will find discussions of experiments about mental heuristics used in processing music, statistical properties of music and the brain, surprise, predictability and so on--and emotions are in the middle of all this. I got this book on a recommendation from Daniel Dennett, a cognitive scientist of the Richard Dawkins wing.

You would have known that (not the part about Dennett, though) if you had clicked on the link and looked at the preview--maybe 10 whole goddam seconds of your time. I'm sorry, but that's just not too much to expect for someone who wants to be as aggressive and hostile about his opinions as you are being within a philosophy environment.

I'll make it even easier for you. Here is the acknowledgements page:

Research is never done In a vacuum and the research reported In this book is no exception. Much of this work was inspired by research carried out in my Ohio State University laboratory by postdoctoral fellow Paul von Hippel and doctoral student Bret Aarden. Paul von Hippel took my intuition about the possible influence of regression to the mean in melodic organization and wove a marvelous story about how listeners hear melodies. In particular, von Hippel's experiments made clear the discrepancy between what people hear and what they expect. Bret Aarden took my interest in reaction-time measures in judging melodic intervals and turned the paradigm into a truly useful tool for investigating musical expectation. His work has transformed the way we understand previous work on tonality. I am indebted to both Paul and Bret for being such tolerant listeners and for mentoring me as much as I mentored them.

Although I have always preferred so-called structural theories of tonality to functional theories, I have benefited enormously by having David Butler (the principal advocate of functional tonality) as a departmental colleague. Professor Butler's knowledgeable criticisms of structural theories led me to a better understanding of the importance of parallel mental representations. My discussion of rhythmic expectation builds on the research of another colleague, Dr. Mari Riess Jones. Along with her collaborator, Dr. Ed Large, she assembled a theory of rhythmic attending that provides the core for understanding the "when" of expectation.

Throughout the book I report a variety of statistical measures based on several data-bases of encoded musical scores. I am indebted to the late Helmut Schaffrath for making available his Essen Folksong Collection. I am also indebted to the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities at Stanford University for providing access to the MuseData electronic scores. Particular thanks go to Walter Hewlett, Eleanor Selfridge-Field, and Craig Sapp. In addition, my thanks go to Tom Recchia for encoding the database of pop chord progressions.

Without wishing to minimize my debt to my colleagues and collaborators, I must acknowledge that the most important people in any research program are one's critics.

Over the years, I have come to greatly value the preventive medicine provided by the peer review process. The sad truth about writing a book is that it is immensely difficult to cajole knowledgeable people into providing critical feedback. The distinguished hearing scientist, Georg von Békésy, once lamented that his successful career had resulted in the loss of his best critics. For von Békésy, former critics were ultimately transformed into friends, and with that, he felt that the quality of his research had suffered. One way to compensate for the paucity of critics is to encourage friends to put aside their affections and pull out their scalpels. I am grateful to those of my associates who recognize the value of mixing encouragement with pointed criticism. My thanks to Bob Snyder, Ian Quinn, Elizabeth Margulis, David Temperley, Fred Lerdahl, Zohar Eitan, Marc Perlman, Dirk-Jan Povel, Peter Desain, Ryan Jordan, Donald Gibson, William Conable, Peter Culicover, Kristin Precoda, Simon Durrant, James Wright, Jonathan Berger, Joy Ollen, Randolph Johnson, Joshua Veltman, Judy Feldmann, Marion Harrison, and Freya Bailes.

Will the specific answers be among this material? I imagine some universal properties of music will be found in there. If you are going to keep denying they exist as a fact, this would be a great place to look just to check. If you are like me (which I'm beginning to think you are not), you will look to see what it says before judging. Why? Simple fascination with the topic. Identify before judge kind of thing...

On another note, you keep referencing color as if it were some kind of direct analogy to sound. It isn't. There are a few similarities, but they are quite different in universal impacts on the brain. Here is one that needs no scientific experiment (although there are experiments about it).

The startle reflex.

Any unexpected loud noise will startle a person who has a normal working hearing capacity. This is true across all cultures. It even includes newborns. The body will jolt. The fear mechanism will kick in. It's an amygdala bump (often called an emotional hijack). What happens after that varies.

This is not merely "subjective," whatever the hell that means in this context. The pleasure or pain of that startle reaction will depend on contextual matters like the mindset of the person before the sound went off, the level of safety or danger of the environment, and so on, but there is no way for the startle not to happen. This works with mammals in general.

I see a good analogy with light and sound when there is a sudden blinding flash. That will give a startle reflex. But this generally keeps the eye from seeing anything after that for a bit when an actual startle has happened--meaning it has to be quite intense--more so than for sound. A sudden loud sound doesn't have to leave the ears ringing to trigger the amygdala.

In lesser degrees, like a flicker or flash or other sudden light, this will attract the eye in a nonvolitional movement. The corresponding emotion will be curiosity. I can't say that about sudden softer background sounds. Also, movement makes the eye "reset" and I can provide some eye tracking studies if you are interested. But you probably already are familiar with this. I can't relate that to sound without over-extending the analogy. And I don't see any of these light analogies dealing with color per se. They hold true whether the light is yellow or blue or green.

If you want to make an analogy between the harmonic series for musical tones and color, I can go along with that. But not between sound--or even music--and color.

Anyway, I would like to kindle your curiosity and I'm being incompetent at it. I'm not so much interested in dueling, being right, debunking, etc. This is taking way too much time over nothing and I have work to do that is important to me.

So if you like, you are 100% right about everything and nobody has shown you anything that makes any sense. We (but not you) are all prisoners of our confirmation bias heuristic.

How's that?

:smile:

Michael

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You and Dennis Prager need to stay below decks and let the officers dictate where the ship is going so it doesn't end up on the rocks of "common sense."

Only an idiot would let officers dictate where their ship goes, Brant. Liberals believe in "studies" and in "experts", and that's how the imbeciles came up with Global warming! :laugh:

I won't speak for Dennis, but I'm at the helm piloting my own ship by my own common sense... and it has served me well for my whole life by knowing how to navigate clear of the "rocks".

Greg

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Don't forget that Dennis Prager has a "university"!

His creative idea of brief concise easily accessible educational videos has been wildly successful at reaching millions of people as an American antidote to your European liberal socialist government "education" as taught by unproductive tenured liberal government dependent failures. The Prager University motto is:

"We teach what isn't taught." :smile:

Greg

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