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#1709124 - 07/07/11 02:34 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: NeilOS

I think you make the assumption that just being able to identify with the emotion makes it possible to recreate it. This is where study and experience come in handy.


This is not my claim. I was telling you what people were trying to claim here when stating that music is all about communication of emotion. You are exactly right here. I have said the exact same thing in this very thread. We agree. People earlier said that the older pianist is the better one because of the larger emotional palette available. I said that's not necessarily the case and that I didn't think it was all that important for somebody to possess a terribly large emotional palette to generate an interpretation as authentic as somebody with much greater emotional experience. Older pianists are sometimes perceived as better simply because of their greater pianistic experience (and not necessarily emotional experience). This was my argument. People didn't want to buy it.

Btw, I took careful pains to mention clearly that lets assume pianistic ability (and experience) were the same for argument's sake. Its unfortunate that you chose to ignore it.


Originally Posted By: NeilOS

And this "better interpretation" very likely will come from a more experienced performer," who is more likely able to figure out what the composer's intentions are. We don't know precisely the intentions of the composers of yore beyond the general: "amabile," "innigikeit," "dolce." If we see "allegro" or "andante" in Mozart, for example, what does that tell us? Only something about tempo. We have to read between the lines as we play the notes, which we do based on our own study (experience) and intuition.


You state initially that the better interpreters are the ones who can figure out composer intentions. Then you go on to say that composer intentions are lost to us forever. Aren't these contradictory again? (Btw, I agree with the latter). As far as the former goes, the better interpreter is the one who creates a more interesting sound out of the piece (as there is simply no way for us to tell if he's the one who figured out composer intentions better because of your second claim that directly contradicts this). Bozhanov in the recently concluded Chopin competition generated some very interesting interpretations because the sound he generated was very interesting, different from other interpretations. It is not because I felt more melancholy listening to him or whatever. The emphasis is on difference, and the quality of the sound being interesting in a statistical sense (simply because these are relationships that probably haven't been heard too often in the past because this person has been original about how he interprets the piece. Not that this person was the one who figured out how Chopin intended it to be played). It was because he was the one who kept me focused on the music for longer. My brain simply found it fun to keep track. Now, as a result, could I have felt more emotional? Maybe, maybe not. That's secondary. Primary is the fact that the sound had to be interesting and different (unique) for it be perceived as an "outstanding" interpretation. Why do you think Glenn Gould was hailed as such a great Bach interpreter? Its because nobody had heard anything like it before he arrived on the scene. Its all in the statistics. Its not because when Glenn Gould played, people could see that the music served to glorify the lord as Bach had intended and they didn't see that as much when other pianists played Bach.

Most of what you say in your post is stuff I've said before in this thread, except for the "better interpretation = figuring out composer intentions better" part. That was just something I said in my last post as a statement that needs to hold if people were to be consistent with their claim that music acts primarily to communicate emotion (which I've disagreed with all along).

Your post also contains my response to Pogo. Op 101, I don't know what the marking is.. I will have to look up the score. However, most markings are of tempo, some markings direct us to play animatedly, etc. I don't see too many markings that ask us to play with terror or fear, or jealousy or hatred, or love or lust or whatever. Joy, sadness? Maybe. I do see many markings for a couple of these very basic emotions. Do tempo markings, and dynamic markings FAR exceed emotional descriptors? So does music serve to communicate emotions? (I'm asking the question in relation with score markings only because Pogo wanted to present evidence based on Op 101). Think again.

Originally Posted By: NeilOS

We do know that these composers were open to "interpretation." Beethoven, in particular, played his own music quite differently on different occasions. So, even though "authentic" expressions of emotion in music are possible at a young age (mimicry and intuition), study and experience can also make a difference.


I've said as much multiple times in this thread. However, we probably disagree on what type of experience is of importance here. I would say pianistic and musical experience primarily. Others want to say emotional experience primarily. I assume you want to say the latter too, in which case we disagree at that point.


I didn't see this post for some reason. Briefly: No, emotional experience is not of primary importance in the interpretation of music. My interest in this post was the suggestion that the primary aim of music (composers' primary aims) was about statistics, putting together "interesting" combinations of notes. It isn't. The aim of the composer and his interpreter is to express something, to make his/her audience feel something.

The composer's intentions are not lost to us. They are indicated to us in the notes they've left us (that was the rest of my statement that you didn't include in your quote). They are handed down, as you know, in written form, oral tradition and more recently in recordings. You give scholarship short shrift here. The study of the score itself tells us what the composer intended, much more than "descriptors." It is in fact possible to be moved by reading a score away from the instrument.

LIszt: "Btw, I took careful pains to mention clearly that lets assume pianistic ability (and experience) were the same for argument's sake. Its unfortunate that you chose to ignore it."

Really? Really? Do you think your argument is a reasonable one? Comparing Mozart and Chopin to their likely interpreters?


Edited by NeilOS (07/07/11 02:46 PM)
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709138 - 07/07/11 02:53 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Comparing Mozart and Chopin to their likely interpreters?


You quote out of context yet again. There was never an issue of musical comparison. The issue was of emotional comparison. I can't imagine a 14 year old Chopin to have been much more emotionally mature than a 14 year old (say highly accomplished) pianist today. The comparison was strictly on emotional grounds. If you want to say that Mozart and Chopin were somehow emotionally much more "superior" to all other 14 year olds (when they were themselves 14), I guess we disagree clearly there.

The comparison was with the intention of pointing out that a 14 year old is probably most likely to interpret a 14 year old's composition IF communication of emotion was the primary objective here (which I don't believe, so I don't believe the first part of the claim but to be consistent, this would have to hold as people of the same age are more congruent to each other emotionally than are an 80 year old and a 12 year old. All the emotional experience of the 80 year old is a hindrance in this context (again if communication of emotion is your claim as the primary goal of all of music), for example, if the 12 year old's composition is supposed to reflect a lack of emotional experience! Of lust.. of whatever it is that a 12 year old feels. Do you have something to say about this other than "really? really?" ?
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1709153 - 07/07/11 03:21 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Comparing Mozart and Chopin to their likely interpreters?


You quote out of context yet again. There was never an issue of musical comparison. The issue was of emotional comparison. I can't imagine a 14 year old Chopin to have been much more emotionally mature than a 14 year old (say highly accomplished) pianist today. The comparison was strictly on emotional grounds. If you want to say that Mozart and Chopin were somehow emotionally much more "superior" to all other 14 year olds (when they were themselves 14), I guess we disagree clearly there.

The comparison was with the intention of pointing out that a 14 year old is probably most likely to interpret a 14 year old's composition IF communication of emotion was the primary objective here (which I don't believe, so I don't believe the first part of the claim but to be consistent, this would have to hold as people of the same age are more congruent to each other emotionally than are an 80 year old and a 12 year old. All the emotional experience of the 80 year old is a hindrance in this context (again if communication of emotion is your claim as the primary goal of all of music), for example, if the 12 year old's composition is supposed to reflect a lack of emotional experience! Of lust.. of whatever it is that a 12 year old feels. Do you have something to say about this other than "really? really?" ?


No, "really, really" covers it. Look at the music for your proof.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709213 - 07/07/11 04:53 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Comparing Mozart and Chopin to their likely interpreters?


You quote out of context yet again. There was never an issue of musical comparison. The issue was of emotional comparison. I can't imagine a 14 year old Chopin to have been much more emotionally mature than a 14 year old (say highly accomplished) pianist today. The comparison was strictly on emotional grounds. If you want to say that Mozart and Chopin were somehow emotionally much more "superior" to all other 14 year olds (when they were themselves 14), I guess we disagree clearly there.

The comparison was with the intention of pointing out that a 14 year old is probably most likely to interpret a 14 year old's composition IF communication of emotion was the primary objective here (which I don't believe, so I don't believe the first part of the claim but to be consistent, this would have to hold as people of the same age are more congruent to each other emotionally than are an 80 year old and a 12 year old. All the emotional experience of the 80 year old is a hindrance in this context (again if communication of emotion is your claim as the primary goal of all of music), for example, if the 12 year old's composition is supposed to reflect a lack of emotional experience! Of lust.. of whatever it is that a 12 year old feels. Do you have something to say about this other than "really? really?" ?


No, "really, really" covers it. Look at the music for your proof.


Fine, if it were that simple, we wouldn't be having this conversation. This is probably the most absurd statement I've heard in this thread so far. Here we are trying to figure out what the purpose is of music with regard to how people conceive of it, and how people perceive it and you're asking me to "look at the music for your proof". Like I said earlier, I don't come to PW expecting the highest scientific or logical standards but there are very basic standards that I do expect from people here.

You have refused to acknowledge the context in which I made that comparison. If your purpose is to construct strawmen, please do so by all means. We have nothing more to discuss.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1709364 - 07/07/11 09:04 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Comparing Mozart and Chopin to their likely interpreters?


You quote out of context yet again. There was never an issue of musical comparison. The issue was of emotional comparison. I can't imagine a 14 year old Chopin to have been much more emotionally mature than a 14 year old (say highly accomplished) pianist today. The comparison was strictly on emotional grounds. If you want to say that Mozart and Chopin were somehow emotionally much more "superior" to all other 14 year olds (when they were themselves 14), I guess we disagree clearly there.

The comparison was with the intention of pointing out that a 14 year old is probably most likely to interpret a 14 year old's composition IF communication of emotion was the primary objective here (which I don't believe, so I don't believe the first part of the claim but to be consistent, this would have to hold as people of the same age are more congruent to each other emotionally than are an 80 year old and a 12 year old. All the emotional experience of the 80 year old is a hindrance in this context (again if communication of emotion is your claim as the primary goal of all of music), for example, if the 12 year old's composition is supposed to reflect a lack of emotional experience! Of lust.. of whatever it is that a 12 year old feels. Do you have something to say about this other than "really? really?" ?


No, "really, really" covers it. Look at the music for your proof.


Fine, if it were that simple, we wouldn't be having this conversation. This is probably the most absurd statement I've heard in this thread so far. Here we are trying to figure out what the purpose is of music with regard to how people conceive of it, and how people perceive it and you're asking me to "look at the music for your proof". Like I said earlier, I don't come to PW expecting the highest scientific or logical standards but there are very basic standards that I do expect from people here.

You have refused to acknowledge the context in which I made that comparison. If your purpose is to construct strawmen, please do so by all means. We have nothing more to discuss.


And I answered your concerns, but you didn't want to hear it. Do look at the music for clues to emotional maturity of the composer. (Mozart for example, age 14-17 wrote 2 operas, a set of string quartets and 2 symphonies that are still in the standard repertoire, among other works. This tells me that Mozart's musical maturity was most likely more developed than his likely interpreters. That's why I thought your comparison was unreasonable.) It's all there in the music. Everything is there, including answers to your original posit having to do with the primary purpose of music. And yes, I've contributed all I have to contribute, which I've done sincerely, despite your inclination to parse. No need to respond to this.

All the best...


Edited by NeilOS (07/07/11 09:30 PM)
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709376 - 07/07/11 09:28 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
No need to respond to this.


I agree.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1709420 - 07/07/11 11:37 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Quote:

The aim of the composer and his interpreter is to express something, to make his/her audience feel something.


I agree with this 100% (we're not talking about contemporary music though). As long as no one think it's [censored], I'm good.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1709425 - 07/07/11 11:48 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2655
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
The aim of the composer and his interpreter is to express something, to make his/her audience feel something.

Indeed. "The purpose of harmony is to give pleasure."...Johann Joseph Fux, Gradus ad Parnassum (1725)
_________________________
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#1709459 - 07/08/11 01:30 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: jazzyprof]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
The aim of the composer and his interpreter is to express something, to make his/her audience feel something.


Grover, I think, would agree with you:


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#1709471 - 07/08/11 02:57 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Quote:

The aim of the composer and his interpreter is to express something, to make his/her audience feel something.


I agree with this 100% (we're not talking about contemporary music though). As long as no one think it's [censored], I'm good.


A blanket generalization _and_ a dismissal of the entire corpus of contemporary music, all in one sentence. Impressive wink

I think it's completely unhelpful to generalize about the 'aim' of composers. Throughout history one of the aims of nearly all composers has been to get paid. For many, composing is an exercise in craftsmanship -- we don't usually ask a luthier what emotion he or she is trying to express when building a fine violin. Some people just compose for the sheer joy of creation. Some compose because the believe it is a way to praise God -- perhaps surprisingly, this remains a motive for many contemporary composers. Some do it because they can't not do it, for reasons that they can't articulate.

To say that aim of composition is to 'express something' is hugely simplistic.

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#1709472 - 07/08/11 03:05 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: kevinb


To say that aim of composition is to 'express something' is hugely simplistic.



thumb
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1709476 - 07/08/11 03:14 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2474
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: kevinb
the sheer joy of creation.






What hath seen mine eyes ! Sheer joy ! Ring the bells, break out the champagne !

Because kevinb has discovered that :

OUR CREATOR FEELS SOMETHING, HE IS DRIVEN BY AN EMOTION .

Friends, this is truly a great day.

By the way, by "our creator", I mean our creative human being, kevinb's luthier for example, not "the Creator".

And if I continue reading:

Originally Posted By: kevinb
it is a way to praise God




Now that too rings of emotion: praise. And as for God, I guess you'll agree that that isn't exactly a scientific notion.

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#1709477 - 07/08/11 03:19 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3839
Loc: Bay Area, CA
This thread's goin' downhill....

I can't imagine discussing such elusive, difficult ideas in a thread where everyone's dissin' everyone else.

So I don't. smile


-J
_________________________
Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#1709478 - 07/08/11 03:19 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2474
Loc: France
"Sheer joy"

That is so beautiful, I just had to say it again, by sheer pleasure. And I had to write it even bigger.

I just had to. For reasons that I can't articulate.

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#1709481 - 07/08/11 03:28 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2474
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Quote:

The aim of the composer and his interpreter is to express something, to make his/her audience feel something.


I agree with this 100%


Me too. Count me down with the "express something" faction.

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#1709498 - 07/08/11 04:28 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
I don't know if there's anybody left who still wants to have a balanced, serious discussion about this issue. I'm finding it somewhat difficult to pick out the reasoned posts from the outpourings of bilious drivel.

Perhaps, as liszt85 says, it's not going to be possible to have a serious discussion with any scientific rigour on a piano forum. Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if it's possible to have a serious discussion of any non-trivial issue on these forums. It certainly looks like any topic that has the potential to be even slightly contentious rapidly becomes overwhelmed with ad-hominem attacks, rudeness, straw men, and general stupidness.

Shame, really frown

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#1709500 - 07/08/11 04:32 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2474
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: kevinb
I'm finding it somewhat difficult to pick out the reasoned posts from the outpourings of bilious drivel



Having read your posts in this thread, I have to say that you're on to something there !

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#1709570 - 07/08/11 09:43 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13820
Loc: Iowa City, IA
...starting to bubble over my "need to lock this" threshold.

Let's keep the simmer down...

laugh

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#1709593 - 07/08/11 10:50 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1255
Loc:
So we re bascically telling composers why they should write music. Music doesn t need a purpose in my opinion. It doesn t need to be justified, it s there to be enjoyed, and i dont think anyone should tell anyone else what to expect or feel from music. That s why sometimes i see discussions like this as a cul de sac. I will not to proseltize Messiaen unto people who have tried him and discarded him. It's fair enough.

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#1709599 - 07/08/11 11:05 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Quote:

The aim of the composer and his interpreter is to express something, to make his/her audience feel something.


I agree with this 100% (we're not talking about contemporary music though). As long as no one think it's [censored], I'm good.


A blanket generalization _and_ a dismissal of the entire corpus of contemporary music, all in one sentence. Impressive wink


Thanks.

Quote:
I think it's completely unhelpful to generalize about the 'aim' of composers. Throughout history one of the aims of nearly all composers has been to get paid. For many, composing is an exercise in craftsmanship -- we don't usually ask a luthier what emotion he or she is trying to express when building a fine violin. Some people just compose for the sheer joy of creation. Some compose because the believe it is a way to praise God -- perhaps surprisingly, this remains a motive for many contemporary composers. Some do it because they can't not do it, for reasons that they can't articulate.


Suit yourself. Why is it unhelpful? The whole thread has been about life experiences, personality and emotion in music. Isn't it interesting to discuss why composers write?

Do you really think Beethoven only wrote to get paid? Sure, they had to make a living. Do you really think I only play just because I get paid? That's not a primary reason at all. Sometimes (I'm not saying you, because I don't know you) people who don't do music professionaly don't understand that we don't do it for the money, I thought that was obvious! A lot of people can't understand that we actually enjoy what we do for a living - and it's not to blame anybody, there are numerous people who hate their jobs and think it's just what it is.

Quote:

To say that aim of composition is to 'express something' is hugely simplistic.


In a nutshell, that's what it is. Do you disagree with it? I understand that there are people who compose for the sake of composing, but that's not the sole purpose of music, creating for the sake of it. I mean, I'm in disbelief a little bit if someone doesn't think composition is to express something - how do you play then? Do you express nothing? I'd be curious to hear you, it would be a good experiment.

Listen to this and tell me what you think:



Does it really not make you feel anything, do you think Richter felt nothing, or Beethoven felt nothing while composing it? Absurd.


Edited by Pogorelich. (07/08/11 11:09 AM)
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1709606 - 07/08/11 11:11 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13820
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Through history, music has had a variety of purposes:

Religious Services - to show devotion/reverence and for fellowship by bringing people together to sing

To Help Mark an Occasion - sporting events, coronations, weddings and funerals, graduations, or incidental music to plays, etc...

To Educate - people often don't realize this, but one of the purposes of Bach's passions was to educate the congregation (many of whom had no access to a bible and/or couldn't read) Music was an effective and memorable way to learn and remember scripture

Atmosphere - from restaurants to elevators, music becomes an important part of the environment; of note is Varese's famous "Poeme Electronique", a sound installation at the Phillips Pavillion at the 1958 World's Fair.

Work/Military - while often expressive, one of the primary purposes of work or military songs was to help a group of people keep time - to march together, or to coordinate the striking of railroad ties (which have to be struck at the same time, otherwise injury or poor workmanship can result)

So while music can be expressive, the expression of emotion has never been the only or even the most important function of music. Much like language, music is able to communicate a very wide variety of ideas. Some elicits an emotional connection, but not all. There are plenty of Schubert Landler which aren't primarily expressive. They're just meant to be diversions, something to pass the time. (As are, obviously, "divertimenti", commonplace in the classical period.)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1709631 - 07/08/11 11:44 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Kreisler]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Through history, music has had a variety of purposes:

Religious Services - to show devotion/reverence and for fellowship by bringing people together to sing

To Help Mark an Occasion - sporting events, coronations, weddings and funerals, graduations, or incidental music to plays, etc...

To Educate - people often don't realize this, but one of the purposes of Bach's passions was to educate the congregation (many of whom had no access to a bible and/or couldn't read) Music was an effective and memorable way to learn and remember scripture

Atmosphere - from restaurants to elevators, music becomes an important part of the environment; of note is Varese's famous "Poeme Electronique", a sound installation at the Phillips Pavillion at the 1958 World's Fair.

Work/Military - while often expressive, one of the primary purposes of work or military songs was to help a group of people keep time - to march together, or to coordinate the striking of railroad ties (which have to be struck at the same time, otherwise injury or poor workmanship can result)

So while music can be expressive, the expression of emotion has never been the only or even the most important function of music. Much like language, music is able to communicate a very wide variety of ideas. Some elicits an emotional connection, but not all. There are plenty of Schubert Landler which aren't primarily expressive. They're just meant to be diversions, something to pass the time. (As are, obviously, "divertimenti", commonplace in the classical period.)


That's completely true, I wasn't even consciously registering all of those things before. (fail for me!)

What about something like Scriabin preludes? To give the most random example off the top of my head..
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1709655 - 07/08/11 12:22 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Through history, music has had a variety of purposes:

Religious Services - to show devotion/reverence and for fellowship by bringing people together to sing

To Help Mark an Occasion - sporting events, coronations, weddings and funerals, graduations, or incidental music to plays, etc...

To Educate - people often don't realize this, but one of the purposes of Bach's passions was to educate the congregation (many of whom had no access to a bible and/or couldn't read) Music was an effective and memorable way to learn and remember scripture

Atmosphere - from restaurants to elevators, music becomes an important part of the environment; of note is Varese's famous "Poeme Electronique", a sound installation at the Phillips Pavillion at the 1958 World's Fair.

Work/Military - while often expressive, one of the primary purposes of work or military songs was to help a group of people keep time - to march together, or to coordinate the striking of railroad ties (which have to be struck at the same time, otherwise injury or poor workmanship can result)

So while music can be expressive, the expression of emotion has never been the only or even the most important function of music. Much like language, music is able to communicate a very wide variety of ideas. Some elicits an emotional connection, but not all. There are plenty of Schubert Landler which aren't primarily expressive. They're just meant to be diversions, something to pass the time. (As are, obviously, "divertimenti", commonplace in the classical period.)


That's completely true, I wasn't even consciously registering all of those things before. (fail for me!)

What about something like Scriabin preludes? To give the most random example off the top of my head..



Pogo, glad to see you much more cooperative when pretty much the same thing is said by an authority figure. So you'd agree and be open to ideas only if a professional musician tells you something?


"So while music can be expressive, the expression of emotion has never been the only or even the most important function of music. Much like language, music is able to communicate a very wide variety of ideas. Some elicits an emotional connection, but not all."


This is pretty much exactly what I've been trying to say (except that I got more scientific about it and talked about statistical manipulations of sound features that potentially lead to the various effects, including elicitation of emotion (but not primarily just that)). I repeatedly said that music does elicit, among other things, emotions. I have also said multiple times that music is certainly expressive. However the claim that the primary goal of music (and musicians) is to express emotion is what I argued against in this entire thread. That first sentence in Kreisler's quote above may even have been written almost verbatim by me earlier.. I can search and find you that post but I think you might have read it already but just chose to ignore it. You are your mates here were trying to convince people that communication of emotion was indeed the primary objective of all music (and then when I talked about more modern stuff you went ahead and dissed all of modern music but that's fine.. I'm glad Kreisler could come in and give you plenty of examples from earlier than just the 20th century). I wish you would be more open to ideas from non-professionals too because we aren't idiots like stores would have you believe.

PS: Except that I wouldn't use the word "communicate" because that is a strong word with a lot of connotations, including very intentional transfer of specific information that is perceived by the receiver in an unadulterated form.



Edited by liszt85 (07/08/11 12:34 PM)
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1709658 - 07/08/11 12:28 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Pogo, glad to see you much more cooperative when pretty much the same thing is said by an authority figure. So you'd agree and be open to ideas only if a professional musician tells you something?


Oh please, I've disagreed with kreisler plenty of times. I don't give a [censored] that he's an "authority figure" - he never acts superior, unlike some members here. And anyway, his examples were still a small fraction of all music. They aren't untrue, though. Your claim, as it appeared to me, was that composers primarily compose only because they want to be creating something - I got the impression that you were rejecting composing for the sake of expressing something. Of course I'm going to argue with that.

Quote:

"So while music can be expressive, the expression of emotion has never been the only or even the most important function of music. Much like language, music is able to communicate a very wide variety of ideas. Some elicits an emotional connection, but not all."


This is pretty much exactly what I've been trying to say (except that I got more scientific about it and talked about statistical manipulations of sound features that potentially lead to the various effects, including elicitation of emotion (but not primarily just that)). I repeatedly said that music does elicit, among other things, emotions. I have also said multiple times that music is certainly expressive. However the claim that the primary goal of music (and musicians) is to express emotion is what I argued against in this entire thread. That first sentence in Kreisler's quote above may even have been written almost verbatim by me earlier.. I can search and find you that post but I think you might have read it already but just chose to ignore it. You are your mates here were trying to convince people that communication of emotion was indeed the primary objective of all music (and then when I talked about more modern stuff you went ahead and dissed all of modern music but that's fine.. I'm glad Kreisler could come in and give you plenty of examples from earlier than just the 20th century). I wish you would be more open to ideas from non-professionals too because we aren't idiots like stores would have you believe.



No one said non professional musicians are idiots - but the majority of non professionals approach music in a very different way. I'm sure you can at least understand that.

I wouldn't say the "only goal" of music is to inflict emotion, but I'd certainly say one of its primary aims is exactly to express something - WHATEVER that is.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1709667 - 07/08/11 12:36 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2474
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Much like language, music is able to communicate a very wide variety of ideas. Some elicits an emotional connection, but not all.


An interesting post, but I stand with the idea that all music proceeds from emotion and elicits an emotional connection. In every example that you give, Kreisler, music has a very marked emotional content, including in the striking of railraod ties or singing on the chain gang. To me it appears clear that if music is invoked in these diverse circumstances, wars, weddings, birth, deaths, it is precisely because of the emotional content that is needed and cannot be brought in any other way.

I don't believe that anybody in this thread has meant emotion in a strict sense of "happy" or "sad" or "angry" and that's it. As for your remark about Ländler, diversion I would consider in the realm of emotion. More generally, Ländler are country dances, and dancing, for me, is emotion. These hundreds of little pieces of Schubert, are among my favorite of all the music I know. I am astounded at the capacity of Schubert to dash them off, with these fabulous harmonies and flirty rhythms. They are just wonderful, marvellous, rousing. You can't sit still. This music makes you want to take a gal in your arms and whirl, the one you love or any girl, even a girl whom in another circumstance might figure as your enemy.

To me, that's emotion.

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#1709672 - 07/08/11 12:44 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Quote:

The aim of the composer and his interpreter is to express something, to make his/her audience feel something.


I agree with this 100% (we're not talking about contemporary music though). As long as no one think it's [censored], I'm good.


A blanket generalization _and_ a dismissal of the entire corpus of contemporary music, all in one sentence. Impressive wink

I think it's completely unhelpful to generalize about the 'aim' of composers. Throughout history one of the aims of nearly all composers has been to get paid. For many, composing is an exercise in craftsmanship -- we don't usually ask a luthier what emotion he or she is trying to express when building a fine violin. Some people just compose for the sheer joy of creation. Some compose because the believe it is a way to praise God -- perhaps surprisingly, this remains a motive for many contemporary composers. Some do it because they can't not do it, for reasons that they can't articulate.

To say that aim of composition is to 'express something' is hugely simplistic.



Let's just say its simple and avoid the pejorative. (We had been talking about the "primary" aim of music.) There are many reasons why artists make art. But the assumption is, and not just my assumption, that the artist has an audience of some sort in mind, he isn't just working in a void. Hence, communication is the objective. So, communicate what? There is an element of craftsmanship to composition, but that is not the final objective.

I've worked with many contemporary composers, playing premieres of their works in international festivals, and I'm here to report that if you tell him his piece is "interesting"s it's going to be a disappointment to him.

Did you mean to say that the "entire corpus of contemporary music" lacks expressive content?

As for the luthier, I would call him/her a craftsman, artful though though that craft might be.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709676 - 07/08/11 12:51 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Your claim, as it appeared to me, was that composers primarily compose only because they want to be creating something - I got the impression that you were rejecting composing for the sake of expressing something. Of course I'm going to argue with that.


Let me try to make my stance as simple as possible:

1) Composers may or may not set out to "communicate something" (I'm including some modern compositional philosophies here but if you took those out, then yes, music probably does try to express something, I just wouldn't use the word communication. See the edit in my previous post). That their music ends up meaning different things to different people is just a function of cognition. Composers may all have something that they want to express, but it needn't be emotion primarily.

2) Communication of emotion as a primary objective of most music (even if you disregarded and dissed modern compositions) is something that I categorically reject. Kreisler has said as much in his post, agreed he only gave a few examples but something tells me he is capable of giving you more if you demanded it.

3) Music is certainly expressive, but of what exactly varies (and in many cases is unknown or cannot be determined because it "expresses" different things to different people). Sometimes its clear, sometimes it isn't. However, we all feel something or the other when listening to music. Sometimes the pleasure is intellectual, sometimes emotional, sometimes educational, sometimes religious and of worship, sometimes meditative, etc. Some of the music that elicits these different effects intentionally did so (so some of those statistical manipulations have more of a direct connect with these effects) and others were not as intentional (this is where individual variation takes over cultural norms to elicit different responses in different people within the same culture). As much as all of this is true, the only thing that's known for sure from rigorous research done by people who are both highly qualified musicians and scientists, suggest that the most important factor for any given person to judge any given piece of music as pleasurable is the extent to which the statistical properties of the sounds in that music violate listener expectations (based on what they've been exposed to, both culturally and individually). These manipulations can have different effects on different people because of what emotions (or other effects) have been associated with such violations of expectations in the personal history of that person.

This is the best I can explain.. I certainly did not say that composing does not happen with the intent to express something. To me "express", does not mean "expression of emotion" necessarily. "Express" could also mean "expression of interesting ideas" (which directly corresponds to the statistics I was talking about). So yes, most of music is written with the intent to "express" but certainly not primarily to "express emotion". My issue was with "the goal of music is to communicate emotion".

I'm really hoping this clarified things for you. If not, I really can't do any better, I tried my best. wink
3)



Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

No one said non professional musicians are idiots - but the majority of non professionals approach music in a very different way. I'm sure you can at least understand that.



I was probably the one to point that out in the first place. Remember I talked a bit about Pierre Bourdieu's work on the judgment of taste and how his theory talked about the various kinds of dispositions that people had to have in order to move up the rungs of the social class ladder? Professional musicians and their beliefs are therefore affected by some of these "standard dispositions" are are required for them to succeed professionally. So yes, I can certainly see why you believe emotion to be primary. That belief probably helps you make music that you think is "better" music than what you'd make without believing that communication of emotion is primary. Your belief then is a tool that allows you to be happy with what you do.


Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

I wouldn't say the "only goal" of music is to inflict emotion, but I'd certainly say one of its primary aims is exactly to express something - WHATEVER that is.


Now you make sense to me. I'm happy as long as you don't assign rank 1 to emotion. You must admit though that your stance wasn't the same all this time.. you were indeed saying that the "primary goal" (I agree you never said it was the only goal) of music is to communicate (inflict?) emotion. Finally, if all we could say about music was that "it aims to express something", then we really don't know much at all about what it seeks to do. Hence the need for research. Hence the reason why "those who must reason it away do not understand music" is a naive statement to make.


Edited by liszt85 (07/08/11 12:59 PM)
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1709681 - 07/08/11 12:57 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Kreisler]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Through history, music has had a variety of purposes:

Religious Services - to show devotion/reverence and for fellowship by bringing people together to sing

To Help Mark an Occasion - sporting events, coronations, weddings and funerals, graduations, or incidental music to plays, etc...

To Educate - people often don't realize this, but one of the purposes of Bach's passions was to educate the congregation (many of whom had no access to a bible and/or couldn't read) Music was an effective and memorable way to learn and remember scripture

Atmosphere - from restaurants to elevators, music becomes an important part of the environment; of note is Varese's famous "Poeme Electronique", a sound installation at the Phillips Pavillion at the 1958 World's Fair.

Work/Military - while often expressive, one of the primary purposes of work or military songs was to help a group of people keep time - to march together, or to coordinate the striking of railroad ties (which have to be struck at the same time, otherwise injury or poor workmanship can result)

So while music can be expressive, the expression of emotion has never been the only or even the most important function of music. Much like language, music is able to communicate a very wide variety of ideas. Some elicits an emotional connection, but not all. There are plenty of Schubert Landler which aren't primarily expressive. They're just meant to be diversions, something to pass the time. (As are, obviously, "divertimenti", commonplace in the classical period.)


Well, now you remind me of Hindemith and his Gebrauchsmusik. But no. Your viewpoint seems limited to me. Certainly composers who choose that profession want and need to get paid. Yes, they write music for occasions. That doesn't mean that they don't still want to express something. I wonder why, if this music was only crafted for a particular use, it has outlived that occasion so that we now listen to it regularly and with pleasure and forget about the occasion for which it was written? (I assume we're talking about the "master" composers.)

Bach called his keyboard works Klavieruebung (keyboard practice), but I suspect most would agree that there is much more than Czernyesque exercises. His dedication pages were full of praises to God. I don't see this as just craft.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709688 - 07/08/11 01:00 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

Oh please, I've disagreed with kreisler plenty of times. I don't give a [censored] that he's an "authority figure" - he never acts superior, unlike some members here.


You're absolutely right about that last part, though you and I probably have different people in mind when we say that.
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1709706 - 07/08/11 01:39 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Kreisler]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Kreisler

So while music can be expressive, the expression of emotion has never been the only or even the most important function of music. Much like language, music is able to communicate a very wide variety of ideas. Some elicits an emotional connection, but not all. There are plenty of Schubert Landler which aren't primarily expressive. They're just meant to be diversions, something to pass the time. (As are, obviously, "divertimenti", commonplace in the classical period.)


Thanks for this clarification. "The primary purpose of music is the communication of emotions and ideas." The quote is mine from earlier in this thread. But I have to quibble a bit here. I suspect emotion is more involved than some want to allow. Case in point, your examples don't really illustrate your point. The Laendler are dances (joyful?) and various divertimenti are meant to pass the time agreeably (pleasure?). It occurs to me that it might be useful to list some of the human emotions: Awe, Charmed, Cheerful, Comfortable, Compassion, Courageous, Confidence, Determined, Delighted , Energetic, Enthusiastic, Excited, Exhilarated, Expectant, Empathy, Happy, Hopeful, Humorous, Inspired, Interested, Joyful, Lively, Love, Pleasure, Playfulness, Peaceful, Pleasant, Powerful, Pride, Relaxed, Satisfied, Surprised, Sympathy, Thrilled.

Note that "interested' is there for you, Liszt85. This is a partial list of positive emotions from SelfImprovement.com. (I didn't want to use Wiki.) There is a corresponding list of negative emotions.

One could say that the presence of emotions in music is merely a by-product of: 1) the need to earn money, 2) a compulsion to put notes together statistically to provide "interest," 3) composing by rote for some occasion. Or some other by-product. But I think, on the whole, composers had more in mind when composing what would become enduring music.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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