Jump to content
Kickstarter Project for Music Jotter begins May 10th. Write music on the web or desktop computer.
Has Midi Scrubbing & Easy Tuplet Entry.
Get BIG discount as a Kickstarter supporter. No monthly subscription fees. Follow the campaign today!

Music Is Not Art


Tumababa
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've got a new semester coming up soon and I've been thinking about this a lot. I saw a Dali exhibit the other day and found that no matter how out to lunch the image was, I could appreciate it because it was quite simply, a gorgeous drawing.

As a sharp contrast, I listen to some of the music written by my fellow students at school and I'm smitten with how dull they all are. I had hoped that it was mere ignorance on my part but I think that really music is not art. It's a pleasure. A vice. We do it because we get our rocks off on it. I play music because it has ties to erotic pleasures of life and it makes me happy. I see a monet painting and I'm awe-struck by the gorgeous colours. Am I missing something or is everybody else fucked? Arguably, I should be missing something but I think music is it's own beast.

And please don't try and draw parallels between color in music and color in visual arts. They are different things altogether. It's like apples and oranges: Two completely different(But I'll admit somewhat related) senses.

Someone come back at me with something good because believe it or not, I want to hear good arguments for why music is art.

Hit me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kickstarter Project for Music Jotter begins May 10th. Write music on the web or desktop computer.
Has Midi Scrubbing & Easy Tuplet Entry.
Get BIG discount as a Kickstarter supporter. No monthly subscription fees. Follow the campaign today!
  • Replies 80
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

According to Dictionary.com, art is: "the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance."

I think this is a rather thought provoking definition. Basically, art is the creation of beauty (thats kinda what I got out of it anyway). So, according to this, anything we create to be beautiful/pleasing/appealing is in fact an art. Most music is made to sound appealing, which makes it an art.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your starting point is flawed as far as I see it.

You compair Dali's works (which are masterpieces) with works from your fellow students. Of course you could possibly vomit by the works of your fellow students, and probably from all students, or your own works when you look at them later on in life, or maybe my works 10-15 years ago.

If you want a fair comparison, go to an art class, and check to see if you are flooded with emotions and you appreciate the art because it's simply gorgeous. Cause I've seen plenty of garbage in art classes you know. :thumbsup:

Other than that, I find that art is pretty much argumentative in some cases (or even political if you will), BUT the main difference is that it also deals with aesthetics.

While seeing a theatrical play:

There are 2-3 main things to consider:

i. the story. The story of the couple living in USSR (for example)

ii. The backbone. Without it the story alone would be bullshit. The comment on the life in USSR, the comments on communism, etc. I've never seen a theatrical play without the backbone

iii. The aesthetics. You don't get some guys in casual clothing reading through a book. You get actors, scenary, music, etc. This is the aesthetics part.

In parallel terms, music IS art. Because it deals with aesthetics primarily! and because it is abstract it is maybe more art than a book, maybe. (while poetry is again abstract).

some people consider that architecture is the mother of all arts. I can see to that, and I also know that there is a lot of aesthetics going on in there (my wife is an architect). BUT at the same time there are SO many practicalities (simply don't compair with music where all you need to think is "this sounds nice", "the range of flute does not go bellow C", etc" so it escapes the "art naming". But however pracitcal the parthenon in Athens, is, it is considered art, and a masterpiece at that, with 2,500 years of history (and the golden ratio right there, used!)

EDIT: I will dissagree with the beauty part. I don't make my music to sound beautiful. I'm expressing myself, and I'm expressing the society I live in, and heck I'm not beautiful, nor is the world we live in. Guernika (Picasso) is not beautiful, is it? Or what about films? Is it art? In some case: Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (be warry the film is for the very strong minds and stomachs). It certainly is NOT beautiful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, as pianoman eluded to, the word “art” has various semantic interpretations. I’m sure that’s not where you want to go with this thread, but it’s hardly avoidable when putting a label on anything. After all, if the label as no definition then what good would the label be?

I think it’s funny that you started this thread when you did, because recently I have been viewing the composition of music more and more like painting a visual picture. I’m sure this isn’t the only way to look at music, but it’s certainly one valid way.

I’m thinking in terms of “painting” a musical “background” with drums and a bass guitar. Thinking for them almost as representing a basic landscape. That landscape could reflect the moods that I might feel when looking at a sunset over a meadow, or a full moon over a stormy sea or a tranquil lake.

Then adding a rhythm guitar as texture, like the foliage growing in the meadow, or the waves undulating on the surface of the water.

The lead guitar would then fill in the activities of the butterflies, honeybees, rabbits, squirrels and birds in the meadow, or the anxious actions of a crew battening down the sails are the deck of a stormy rain-soaked ship.

So I think music can be a “tone painting”. The listeners may not envision the same images that I had when I created the music, but surely they must feel something from the “art”.

Of course, who ever said that “art” has to be visual? I’ve always thought of music as an art form even before I though about “constructing” it in a similar fashion as painting a visual picture.

If music isn’t art then what else would it be?

Obviously all music isn’t good art. But then neither are all paintings. Moreover, the very idea of "good" is quite subjective.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not much of a comparison. Dali was a genius - his graphical skills were never in doubt from the start....you need go no further than his early drawings. I'd probably align him with the symbolist Debussy who won the prix de Rome while still a teen. If any of your fellow students are up to that standard their skills will soon emerge - they won't need composition lessons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i. the story. The story of the couple living in USSR (for example)

ii. The backbone. Without it the story alone would be bullshit. The comment on the life in USSR, the comments on communism, etc. I've never seen a theatrical play without the backbone

iii. The aesthetics. You don't get some guys in casual clothing reading through a book. You get actors, scenary, music, etc. This is the aesthetics part.

In parallel terms, music IS art. Because it deals with aesthetics primarily! and because it is abstract it is maybe more art than a book, maybe. (while poetry is again abstract).

I strongly disagree.

i. Music is not language. Certainly, written music is a language - since there is a system of symbols that stand for sounds. But music itself is not - because D minor doesn't mean "sad" to everyone. There is no absolute emotional/symbolic equivalent to the sounds that music makes. Therefore, the idea of "story" is irrelevant.

ii. The backbone? What is the backbone of a Mozart piece? Sonata form? Sonata form is a statement, of course (a reflection of Enlightenment ideals), but is it really a backbone?

iii. Thornton Wilder's classic drama "Our Town" is performed on a blank stage with extremely abstract props and almost nothing in the way of costumes. Shakespeare's dramas were performed without any sets. Aesthetics then clearly mean nothing, since it's all relative.

I think music is art, because it is the responsibility of the composer to craft personal ideas, thoughts, and emotions (should the composer wish to include emotion) into sound, whether that sound communicates or not.

Not to mention, every stylistic period in the visual arts was mirrored/preceded/followed by an analogous period in literature and music - beginning within six months of each other. Therefore, one can conclude that the same social/political forces that were influencing one art form was influencing the others, which speaks to the fact that they're really not that different at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You love dissagreeing with me, don't you? :D

You cut 2 sentences above my post, which would made sense. The 3 points apply to theatrical plays, NOT music. Just that music CAN be parallel, not necessarily though.

AS for iii.

a. Shakspear? I don't care about many many years ago ;) I care about today. And the LACK of scenery, or customes, is again and aesthetics comment, not the opposite as you'd like to think.

Learn to quote the whole meaning (because in this case, of course my post could be devided into 2-3 different ones) and then come back to discuss.

In all, theater is less abstract than music,

I don't give a scraggy about Mozart, and I'm dead tired of hearing examples about a guy who is dead for 200+ years now! Great music, and I have grea tstuff form him, and I learned from him and his scores a great deal (I even have a book about his letters to his father etc). But if music is art is kinda irrelavent to 2007 and Mozart. If you want, talk about Schnittke at least (although dead, but still more contemporary), or Boulez, or something. And compair things.

Lastly, don't forget that music IS abstract in many cases (as I said in the original thread) which could result in pieces of music primarily dealing with aesthetics (which, whoops I already said that) and sure they are art as well...

In all, next time don't make me come and spend so much time explaining myself! Unless I relaly have trouble in writing, in which case I do apologise and will be much more careful with my posts next time!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate this thread.

It comes back to the real question of "what, fundamentally, is art?", and I don't have a clear answer for that. And without a good answer, I can't say whether some (or any) music is art.

I've gone down several paths trying to answer the question, to no avail.

Not all art is aesthetic, and not all art is even a "comment" on aesthetics. For instance, some art tries to fit entirely within a cultural assumption of pleasing aesthetics, and other art tries entirely to oppose the cultural aesthetics. But none is more "art" than the other.

And I was also thinking that maybe it is context which determines art. For instance, a bedroom is not normally considered art, but if you look at the bedroom, and it's contents, and it's arrangements as a reflection of the person who lives there, then it can be considered art. But not all context determines art, seeing as most of the time, we don't have a clue what the masters were really "trying to say."

So I was also thinking, maybe art has to do with how "common" the ability to produce it is. If everyone could compose like Beethoven, I doubt Beethoven would be really considered art anymore. Before drum machines, if someone could play breakbeat on a drum set, it could have possibly been considered art, but now that anyone can do it at the touch of a button, it's no longer artistic. Maybe it has to do with the ability to reproduce something comparable to the original. Not "imitation", but reproduction of something of similar value.

But I'm also wondering if art always requires an observer. I'm starting to think it does.

However, there seem to be more absolute standards somewhere, that I intuitively understand, but can't put into words.

Everyone I've met considers sunsets beautiful, and some sunsets more beautiful than others. There's occasional disagreement on particulars, but general agreement. Sunsets aren't constrained to one culture or another, so there's no cultural aesthetics that it appeals to.

I really don't know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah HA!

The dictionary.com definition was interesting. What about music that seeks to express nothing? I could argue that by that definition that serial music is not art. Stravinsky himself said that music itself doesn't express anything and he may have been on to something. It's all in our heads after all.

Nikolas: I've seen some art class work and thought some of their pieces were very good. Compared with the emotionally distant works from my school, I'd say they were on the right track. There's crap of course but you always find a few lumps of scraggy in a barrel of chocolate!

I have to go to work but I'll be coming back to this thread. I love playing devil's advocate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah HA!

The dictionary.com definition was interesting. What about music that seeks to express nothing? I could argue that by that definition that serial music is not art. Stravinsky himself said that music itself doesn't express anything and he may have been on to something. It's all in our heads after all.

Serial music is very mathematical, but, by the definition of art that I quoted, to the right eyes math can very well become an art. Whether it "seeks" to or not, music always expresses something.

And, nikolas, I think we all know the quote "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". So no matter how "not beautiful" you try and make your music, someone is always going to find beauty in it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But there are still some things that are beautiful to a group of people that aren't to another group of people. A lot of this is cultural, I think.

And there are things that are considered beautiful to almost all people, regardless of culture.

You always find a few lumps of chocolate in a barrel of scraggy.

We still perceive "chocolate" as desirable, and "scraggy" as undesirable. Why is that? I don't think it's entirely in the eye (or nose or -- ew -- tastebuds?) of the beholder.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with you, JMitchem, partly. I would bet you a million barrels of chocolate that the only way to get a majority to agree on something that is beautiful is if it were something that is bonafide universal. Stuff like sunshine, rainbows, and laughter.

I suppose scat fetishists find scraggy desirable. So you're right on that point.

I think what is actually in the barrel depends on your outlook. I would put the question to you, Are you a glass half full/barrel of chocolate person or a glass half empty/barrel of scraggy person?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dunno. It really depends on whether I like what's in the glass.

If I like it, half-full. If I don't, half-empty. It's either "how much do I have to savor" or "how much do I have left to put up with?". Assuming you can't just dump the glass.

And really, if someone asks, I really just say "there's about half a glass".

So, I dunno. But ok, what makes a sunrise nearly universally appealing, but doesn't do the same for a thunderstorm?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

to the right eyes math can very well become an art.

Mathematics is most certainly an art to my eyes. I also see a mathemtical nature in music. Therefore music is also an art in my eyes. In fact it is the mathematical nature of music that originally attracted me to it.

I certainly wouldn't argue with anyone who says that is isn't an art though. As was pointing out, all of this is entirely subjective and it doesn't bother me in the least that other people have a world view that differs from mine.

I expect as much and would, in fact, be quite disspointed if everyone held the same view. :huh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could see math being considered art.

But I would be more inclined to see it related more to nature and the universal beauty we were talking about a couple posts above. You can find math in all sorts of natural beauty, such as the crest of a wave(The Fibonacci sequence).

Maybe art is not about being universal. Maybe it's more about connecting with the minority.

OR.....(and I've heard this before).....

Maybe something is art when someone comes in contact with it and realizes they love it when they had no idea they wanted it.

In other words, the artist would be someone that is giving to people something they never knew they wanted.

I like this one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Math as art - no, I can't agree. Math is logic and based on the strict applications of axioms/rules. Not that plots of certain functions aren't beautiful nor that imagination and inspiration can't occur in solving math problems - so the farthest I could go is that math can be beautiful. If one extends the definition of art to include logic then everything is art and the term "art" has no meaning.

Concerning modern music, I am reminded of a question I asked a restorer during a job stint in an art gallery about a painting that was just a red circle (one colour) one a background of gray (a second uniform colour). I asked what he thought about the painting and he said it required a lot from the viewer to appreciate it. By analogy, most of what is heard in some modern music isn't in the music at all but comes from the imagination of the listener who has to work to appreciate the music. I think that is a problem with some modern music: what if you just want to relax and enjoy listening and not do the equivalent of solving a sudoku puzzle?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All music comes from the imagination of the listener.

It depends on your cultural background. The cats who dig listening to Xennakis have had their musical tastes cultivated in universities so they appreciate it. Myself, not so much. I've had my musical taste cultivated by rock and roll and popular musics.

The step from popular music to classical isn't as big as the step from popular to contemporary classical which is why there are fewer people listening to the contemporary stuff than the old stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Math as art - no, I can't agree. Math is logic and based on the strict applications of axioms/rules.

I believe that this depends on how you view logic. If you believe that logic is absolute and can only have one absolute answer for every question then I would have to agree that logic is not an art. However, I don’t view logic in that way. I see logic as being more flexible. The application of logic itself is an art in my mind. If you delved deep enough into mathematics you will find that it is genuinely inconsistent in the end. Kurt G

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Math in and of itself, I'm not sure I can say that either.

Math can express beautiful things, and unbeautiful things, but you can't separate the math from anything. It is a constant. It's basically equivalent to saying that matter or energy are art, and I don't think that's true.

Some matter is art, and some matter isn't. But you still can't separate the matter (and energy) from the art.

Nor is color, by itself, art.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to think like Abracadabra, but I was finding that it left a sour taste in my mouth. Unlimited concepts like that don't really work for me. This is hard to explain so I'll use this analogy:

Food has the potential to be art. A chef friend of mine recently told me about this dish special he made:

He took a squaw(Small pigeon like bird), cut it in half and cooked it with the wing and claw still on. When it came out of the oven he manipulated the claw so that it was holding a sprig of thyme. Some people who got the dish couldn't eat it 'cause it looked too life-like. Art? To me, yes.

Today, I had eggs on toast for breakfast. Art? To me, no.

It's just too absurd for me to associate my breakfast with my friend's cooking in that way. I can't make that leap of faith. He was INSPIRED to make that dish. I followed a procedure I have done hundreds of times.

I suspect when people are referring to math as logic they are refering to 1+1=2. Once you get into the really heavy math it ceases to be logic and becomes something else. How 'bout art?

I'm going to do my laundry but I'll be checking on this thread a lot today.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...