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 Forum index » Discussion » Composition
What is music?
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Monkeyfinger



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

For me the question of 'what is music?' is followed by 'where is music?'.
Music is in my head, for me.
Music is a human invention or association of the wave signals that our ears pass to the brain.
The jump from noise waves to music happens in our head just like the jump from noise waves to words.

There is no definitive 'music'.
For me, music is what I decide it is in my head.

I'll never forget the scene from the movie The Pianist.
He has to be silent or the Nazis will find him and kill him.
He is faced with a piano.
He moves his hands above the keys.
He feels music, but no noise is made in his ears.

I've played guitar for many years.
I can look at a guitar or just hold it and think music without making a sound.

Music is never the same thing to anyone else.
It is the same as words that others can misinterpret.
I can type something that I think anyone can understand, yet in someone else's brain it means something different.

Just because we sit next to each other at the same musical performance doesn't mean we hear the same music.

Music is personal.
All the ideas of how music is the same to everyone is similar to the way we learn to organize speech as a way to communicate.
If we want someone else to understand our music, we start applying set rules.
Those rules don't make it more or less music.
It just makes it more identifiable to other humans.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sorry, can't read message, moving avatar draws attention too much.
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Monkeyfinger



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Is that better? Twisted Evil
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That is one seriously flashback inducing avatar Shocked

Eeeeeek. And now it looks like a Rohrschack on meth Shocked

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
Sorry, can't read message, moving avatar draws attention too much.

gee...while reading the first post of this thread I was just thinking the same. I guess Monkeyfinger changed it but does it have necessarily to be that disturbing Question

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I am sure it will be back to normal within a day or so. I really liked those bearded angels that kinda looked different all the time. he had something wild going there. Too bad we cannot build an avatar history/gallery/archive.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sorry monkeyfinger I could have brought it more subtle i guess.

But I was pretty tired after a hard day working & so, and I really could not read what you wrote, being really distracted by the movings. I could also have ignored it of course, but it was the first thing coming up in my head and before I knew I had pushed the doit thingy.

This new one is actually worse, but I guess you knew that. It's amazing how fast you can make a new one though. Would you consider to make a more static one ? You'd really please me with that.

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paul e.



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Monkeyfinger wrote:




I'll never forget the scene from the movie The Pianist.
He has to be silent or the Nazis will find him and kill him.
He is faced with a piano.
He moves his hands above the keys.
He feels music, but no noise is made in his ears.



i like this....nice..will have to find the scene

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Monkeyfinger



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Here is a still avatar, Jan. Wink
I was just having fun.
I obviously just got a hold of a software that makes animated .gifs.
Went a little crazy, but I got it out of my system. Cool
Hope this didn't derail the thread too much.

I really dig talking about what people think about music Exclamation

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks, Monkeyfinger, I was having the same problem Jan had and I know a few other people also get distracted by those.

If you create any more interesting blinking ones you could of cource put those in the sub-section for photos. I'm sure they would be welcomed there.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thank you Monkeyfinger, I appreciate this. I know how much fun these moving gif thingies are, but I better not post one here I guess :-)

Monkeyfinger wrote:
[...] yet in someone else's brain it means something different.


Wether that would change the music I don't know, lets take a recording and study the grooves ot particles ore whatever, they'll not change when I listen or you, there must be some objective music as well I guess.

But at the same time that record can mean diferent things on two different times for mysself as well. This must be the context into which you put it, I guess.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

chuck wrote:
Music is sound that you like.

Sound that we don't like is noise.

The more we can enjoy noise, the more music we have in our lives.


noise is data without meaning, and can be incorporated into music to great effect.

to what extent sound loses it's meaning is relative to the culturally defined bodies it is absorbed into.

for example, in certain periods of history and in certain conservatoires even today, an augmented fourth is considered noise. hell, even a perfect fourth within a perfect fifth could be considered a noise that needs to be resolved.

the concept of stress and release is important to music and noise has become so integral music that many of our instruments offer you the option of pure white noise which, it has to be said, is unpleasant for extended periods of time.

that doesn't stop zOviet france from exploiting noise and selling it as music.
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SynthLord



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
What is music?


Music is sound organized in time. Nothing more, nothing less. Composition, though, is the disciplined, stylistic manipulation of melody and harmony within a tonal framework, and exists as a composer's method of using sound to communicate his/her sense of life to an audience.

I disagree with the notion that birdsong or random mechanical noises are "music". Those sounds are not created by a human mind for the purpose of sonic communication. These things might be musical, or even inspire a musical idea, but no one ever built a jackhammer because they thought it rocked (if so, they just wanted you to think it does), and whales don't compose.

Now, music has an enormous capacity to reach beyond all intellect and abstract thought to inspire greatness, or to augment one's own happiness in ways that no other stimulation can. Music may be just "sound organized in time", but a person has to make it, and his/her experiences, emotions, and what they want their audience to know about them (sense of life) guide the moralities of these composers' crafts.

There are indeed some interesting noises out there, and a lot of inspiration to be found in non-music sounds. And, yes, there are some interesting relationships that can be explored through mathematical composition methods. But at best, these things are the raw materials. The diamond is a finished work, full of tension and release, and something that communicates great meaning to an audience, not just a general "mood".

But, that's just me ...

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jamos



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

SynthLord wrote:
Quote:
What is music?


Music is sound organized in time.


How ironic. I was just about to say the very same thing, word for word.

I don't think there is a better definition - one that is both inclusive of all types of sound that various people refer to as music, yet exclusive of natural and random processes.

I like you, SynthLord :')
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

jamos wrote:
SynthLord wrote:
Quote:
What is music?


Music is sound organized in time.


music, as any other sound event , is time related. There is no music outside time. Have you ever heard anything "outside" a time related realm? So, I guess, the above definition is redundant. "Music is organized sound" would sound better, to me.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

SynthLord wrote:
Quote:
What is music?

But at best, these things are the raw materials. The diamond is a finished work, full of tension and release, and something that communicates great meaning to an audience, not just a general "mood".

But, that's just me ...


I disagree with the idea that music communicates meaning. I actually think that lack of meaning is something that attracts people to music - they seek refuge in a phenomenon that they can understand in a kind of physical sense, while it is impossible to analyze and fully explain it in words. Sure, you can construct music with metaphors and elaborate references to all kinds of stuff, but you can also skip all that, and just make a simple tune that everyone likes.

But then again, I'm one of those guys that stop in the street to enjoy thumping machine noises at constructions or the clicks and buzzes in my faulty soundcard at work... Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I once saw a very interesting TV program about the doctors who performed the first successful kidney transplant. They had a long series of tragic failures as they improved their surgical techniques and anti-rejection drugs.

Anyhow, they described the first time they transplanted kidney actually worked. One of them said they hooked it up in the patient, undid the clamps and urine immediately started pouring out on the floor of the operating room. He said to him and the other doctor (his partner) it was music. They started dancing together in the operating room in the pool of urine. A nurse had to get their attention so they could attach the catheter and collection bag, and finshish off the operation.

This is a compelling image.

Here is at least where the "organized sound" definition is not quite enough.




    Dr. Joseph Murray and the medical team at Boston's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital perform the first successful long-term organ transplant, Dec. 23, 1954.



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bachus



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Here is at least where the "organized sound" definition is not quite enough.


Are you going for a purely subjective definition of music? Music is certain sets of states-of-being/states-of-attention during the experience of sound? scratch

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Certainly music has something to do with the perception. We have seen in this topic people already mention music without sound, just thoughts in the head. Beethoven showed that too, but nobody mentioned him I don't think. Then there are guys dancing to the music of urine on the floor of the operatng room. There's always the "music to my ears" when someone hears some great news of something they have been long looking forward to. All this does seem to get back to the fact that music makes the listener feel something - often something good.
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SynthLord



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Seraph wrote:
Quote:
I guess, the above definition is redundant. "Music is organized sound" would sound better, to me.


Perhaps, but for me it's a semantic necessity. The meaning is the same.

Antimon wrote:
Quote:
I disagree with the idea that music communicates meaning. I actually think that lack of meaning is something that attracts people to music ...


Music can communicate great meaning! Just because melodies and harmonies can't be translated into actual words, one can still derive meaneing from music - and a composer can write it in.

Shostakovich's 7th Sympnhony was entitled Leningrad, and was supposed to celebrate the rise of the city that bore the Soviet dictator's name. But listen to it ... in the end there's no triumph, no victorious fanfare ... only pain, and death, and screaming, and horror. The symphony does not celebrate the rise of Leningrad, it mourns the fall of St. Petersburg.

This is just one example. A well-composed piece of music takes you to that place - takes a whole audience together - and moves people in ways that words or images cannot.

Sure, people like music that they can relate to, and that they can assign their own sentimentalities and meaning to. There's nothing wrong with this kind of music at all, but to say that music communicates no identifiable meaning ...?

Well, okay, maybe from some very abstract or academic perspective, but if music really doesn't convey any meaning, why are particular types of personalities attracted to certain sounds? How is it you can pick out a Rush fan in a crowd? Why are hard-core Jimmy Buffet fans ... like that? Because certain people experience things together, and a good composer speaks into that, evokes a feeling they like, and the next thing they know, they're wearing parrot-head hats and spilling margaritas all over each others' tacky Hawaiian shirts ...

- - - - - - - And by the way, I am limiting my comments to the discussion of the meaning of music, not the meaning assigned to certain songs by their lyrics. Lyrics clearly give away a meaning, whether they're from Puccini or Elvis ... I'm speaking strictly of musical tones, melody, harmony, style, structure. - - - - - - - -

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Great points! Very Happy


Here is a cute link re the 7th.


As for


Quote:
Music is sound organized in time.


To me this imples intent and this again does allow for encoding a piece of music with "meaning" or a message.

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SynthLord



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

No it doesn't, but "What is music" is a very broad question hat deserves as broad an answer as possible. The broadest inclusinve definition of music is sound organized in time. Yeah, it's dry, and kind of passionless, but I'm a person that believes words have solid definitions that mean the same thing to everyone. Their interpretation, though, of a word (such as an individual composer's interpretation of what makes good music) is their own thing.

If the question had been "What makes a complete song?" or "What is it about music that makes it so ephemeral an art form?" we could come up with a myriad of different definitions. Even "What is music to you?" would be an approach that elicits nothing but varied and interesting opinions from us all.

"What is writing?" Well, it's words on paper. These, though - "What makes a novel? What makes a great story? What is real journalism about?" - are more specific questions, which would elicit some more concrete answers.

I didn't mean to imply that one should automatically infer from my definition "meaningful sound organized in time" ... quite the contrary. Music doesn't have to have meaning to be music.

But for it to be great music, or successful music, it becomes a matter of artistic morality which directs the composer to write meaningful music. It's not easy ... it's damned hard ... to express yourself in that way. It requires emotional honesty and clarity, identification with and knowlege of the experiences of others, and having a growing pallete of sophisticated melodic, harmonic, and timbral material at the ready.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It seems obvious that music is related to sound, but there are examples that I have tried to site that I think indicate that there can be music without sound. It seems that there can't be music without thought, or more specifically experience.

If one is deaf and they watch a dancer, do they not experience music?

I can image the most magnificant music; really experience it. I don't think I am unique in that. But unfortunately I lack the ability to describe this music in words or convert to sound. Does this music not exist?

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SynthLord



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I gotta be one of those hard-noses and say that the definition of music is totally inclusive to sound. Withotu sound, there is no music.

Now, the effect of a piece of music on you or I may be acheived in dance (after all, isn't that what ballet is all about?), or perhaps some other medium, and appreciated. But it's not music ...

I'm reminded of the scene from Mr. Holland's Opus where the band played for a deaf audience, but they experienced the music through the light show. The lights weren't the music - just like a dancer, they react to the music. One is the cause, the other an effect. THe children in he scene are having a reaction to the music's effect, not to the music directly.

---
(I'm really liking this board. I'm sure there are people who think I should go away, but Im having fun! If I get annoying let me know! Very Happy )

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

SynthLord wrote:
No it doesn't


Oh, but it does. We aren´t talking language here anyway, or a full programmatic encoding ( as discussed here )

When speaking of "meaning" and intent in this context, the intent to 1 - create a piece of music and 2 - to make it sound "happy" or dark
will fit the bill just fine.

mosc wrote:
It seems obvious that music is related to sound, but there are examples that I have tried to site that I think indicate that there can be music without sound. It seems that there can't be music without thought, or more specifically experience.


This makes perfect sense. First of all you are suggesting that "music" implies human beings.. Then.. when we are discussing ourselves, our concepts and our sphere of existence, the idea of an object or an experience is just as real as the "real thing" and at times even more so.

It is possible to think/plan/invent a musical composition in your mind. I suggest that this says more about what music really is than simply turning on the radio .

However, this will of course also suggest that music only is music if it is recognized as music.

So:
music=organized sound
...but.. music=organized sound=music is only true if it is also recognized as music by the listener.
Laughing

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