Thursday, September 22, 2011

music in real time.

     I've been thinking more about what music I am surrounded by, and how it's changed what music is for me these days.  It used to be very cathartic, music: heavy emotion, high ups and downs, joyful, sad, transforming, inspiring, etc...  Now, it's cartoon jingles, goodnight songs, nursery rhymes, and made-up tunes to sing to my children.  Simplified and positive; while not wholly fulfilling, I enjoy it all.  I do manage to squeeze in some grown-up good stuff now and then, and even got my son hooked on some of it, but all that amazing music out there that I was once surrounded by, is no longer the soundtrack of my life.  And it seems that when I have a chance to be alone, I embrace the quiet.
      I have found, when I do see a show, a concert, or listen to music at home, that I enjoy it fully.  It's pleasurable, and positive.  I can still be transported by an amazing piece of music, or awed by something new, or entranced in a song, but it is not all-consuming. There is comfort, too, in that the music hasn't changed; I have.  Music is amazing in how it affects us, how our memories impact how we hear something, or perform something.  When I sing "Rock-a-bye Baby," I am affected only by the joy it gives my daughter; when I sing her something from my past, or my childhood, it is emotional and moving for me, but then the song is over, and I'm right back to nursery rhyme mood.  It's nice. There is a lot to be said for being completely immersed in a thing, and the benefit of that can be great and amazing, but a little perspective and a "Rock-a-bye Baby" can go a long way.

A piece of music is always open for interpretation in many different ways; is it possible to get away from our perceptions and simply hear or play the music, or are we constantly interpreting it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

re: Does the definition of nature limit music to a product of humans?

     I think this answer to Becky-Jo's question depends on our definition of music, too.  I always feel arrogant supposing that humans are the only beings that can do something, even if it's true, because I feel like I'm being elitist, or excluding other valuable beings.  But, truthfully, actions and sounds made by beings and things in nature (excluding humans) are dictated by instinct and survival alone; they are not creative expressions of purposefully organized sound.
     Perhaps we do need to eliminate human action from our definition of nature, as Becky-Jo found, for this purpose.  We make sounds and actions instinctively, too, but not in music.  We may sing or hum reflexively, but we've learned to do that in certain instances, and I think that is very different from the purpose and instinct of a birdsong.  We may use music as a way to communicate something, but it is not the same instinctive reflex as say, yelling if you are afraid, or in pain, is a way to communicate.
     For these reasons, I think music (by our working definition) is indeed a product of humans alone, and as all art, not made by beings and things in nature.

Is singing, humming, playing an instrument (even an invented one,) in any small way, natural?  How do we make the distinction between what is music and what is instinctive amongst humans?  If we speculate that music is a human activity, is it even important for us to make this distinction?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

re: Can an artwork really be considered art if it does not [meet our aesthetic expectations]?

     To answer Sean's question, I would say, first, that what is aesthetically pleasing to one, is not to another, and vice versa.  Aesthetics, while a philosophical discipline and field of study, is an emotional response, making it very subjective.
     Art is a creative expression, whatever form that may take, and all such expressions may not meet our aesthetic expectations.  However, because they are creatively expressed, I do not think they can be discounted, and therefore should be considered art.

With all the subjectivity and emotion of art, can there be a real objective truth in aesthetics, or a true beauty, or are the subjective truths all true?