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#1709713 - 07/08/11 01:52 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: liszt85
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)



Very nice, Liszt85.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709716 - 07/08/11 01:58 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13764
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I'd be interested in everyone's take on the following scenario:

What if we took a bunch of Czerny exercises and made a ballet out of them? If we assume that the purpose of the exercises wasn't primarily to convey an emotion, then how well would that translate on stage as an accompaniment to dance?
_________________________
"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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#1709721 - 07/08/11 02:05 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Kreisler]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I'd be interested in everyone's take on the following scenario:

What if we took a bunch of Czerny exercises and made a ballet out of them? If we assume that the purpose of the exercises wasn't primarily to convey an emotion, then how well would that translate on stage as an accompaniment to dance?


Try it and we'll give you our various impressions. Balanchine famously tried to avoid facial expression, hoping to achieve uniformity. Movement, of course, can be expressive.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709746 - 07/08/11 02:29 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
hawgdriver Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 637
Loc: Denver, CO
A composition could be created, performed, and enjoyed as something akin to a Sudoku puzzle. Is there an emotion that is associated with these activities? Is it more emotionless that not?

Apologies for the simple question.
_________________________
Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski

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#1709751 - 07/08/11 02:38 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: hawgdriver]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
A composition could be created, performed, and enjoyed as something akin to a Sudoku puzzle. Is there an emotion that is associated with these activities? Is it more emotionless that not?

Apologies for the simple question.



Would it be boredom?
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709760 - 07/08/11 02:44 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: hawgdriver
A composition could be created, performed, and enjoyed as something akin to a Sudoku puzzle. Is there an emotion that is associated with these activities? Is it more emotionless that not?

Apologies for the simple question.



Would it be boredom?



Only if you hate sudoku. laugh
_________________________
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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#1709768 - 07/08/11 02:57 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: hawgdriver]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
A composition could be created, performed, and enjoyed as something akin to a Sudoku puzzle. Is there an emotion that is associated with these activities? Is it more emotionless that not?

Apologies for the simple question.


On further reflection, it occurs to me that this might actually be interesting. Musical puzzles have existed since forever; a fugue might be considered a puzzle of sorts. I suppose if it's possible to follow the puzzle voices aurally and relate those voices to the dancers' movements, it might be quite nice. (I can't tell you how emotional my experience might be without hearing/seeing it.)
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709778 - 07/08/11 03:22 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
the nosy ape Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 710
Loc: Westford, MA
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
A composition could be created, performed, and enjoyed as something akin to a Sudoku puzzle. Is there an emotion that is associated with these activities? Is it more emotionless that not?

Apologies for the simple question.



Would it be boredom?


I have certainly heard music that elicited that response from me.

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#1709810 - 07/08/11 04:05 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
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.



The idea that art is primarily communicative is well-established but, for better or worse, it's an idea that doesn't have much currency among contemporary researchers on aesthetics. Here is, for example, Dickie's highly influential definition of 'art', from his 1997 book:


Originally Posted By: George Dickie

"A work of art is an artifact of a kind created to be presented to an artworld public.
An artist is a person who participates with understanding in the making of a work of art.
A public is a set of persons the members of which are prepared in some degree to understand an object which is presented to them.
The artworld is the totality of all artworld systems.
An artworld system is a framework for the presentation of a work of art by an artist to an artworld public"


I'm not suggesting for a moment that I agree with Dickie -- and things have moved on since the 90s anyway -- but I suspect that many working musicians are (blissfully) unaware of recent developments in aesthetic theory. In any event, the idea that art has to communicate something is not unchallengeable.


Quote:

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


Good heavens, no. That's what Pogorelich said (or implied); something I repudiate entirely.

Quote:
As for the luthier, I would call him/her a craftsman, artful though though that craft might be.


I suspect that the overlap between 'art' and 'craft' is pretty substantial. But neither terms is particularly easy to define.

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#1709814 - 07/08/11 04:08 PM 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.

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 can understand the sense of the English, but I can't understand the point you're trying to make. It looks like another huge, unjustified generalization to me. But I don't know -- specific examples might help.

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#1709815 - 07/08/11 04:09 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
antony Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 392
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: liszt85
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.


You may think your description explains "the need for research. " None of this sounds particularly scientific, it is much more of a philosophical discussion, which is fine and can be fun. But you have already answered your own question in another thread you began about Chopin's Scherzo: "Super Excited" and the opening chords "divine" and a performance being "truly inspirational."

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#1709823 - 07/08/11 04:23 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Originally Posted By: apple*

I haven't met many naturally expressive children pianists.. it's like they can fake it.. but no.


I taught one prodigy, age 10, who, when she sat down to play, changed from a shy school girl to a wizened master pianist before my eyes.


you're lucky.. a prodigy to me is someone who likes piano and can learn right along, who enjoys lessons and wants to improve.

my needs are simple my experiences few.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1709830 - 07/08/11 04:38 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
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.



The idea that art is primarily communicative is well-established but, for better or worse, it's an idea that doesn't have much currency among contemporary researchers on aesthetics. Here is, for example, Dickie's highly influential definition of 'art', from his 1997 book:


Originally Posted By: George Dickie

"A work of art is an artifact of a kind created to be presented to an artworld public.
An artist is a person who participates with understanding in the making of a work of art.
A public is a set of persons the members of which are prepared in some degree to understand an object which is presented to them.
The artworld is the totality of all artworld systems.
An artworld system is a framework for the presentation of a work of art by an artist to an artworld public"


I'm not suggesting for a moment that I agree with Dickie -- and things have moved on since the 90s anyway -- but I suspect that many working musicians are (blissfully) unaware of recent developments in aesthetic theory. In any event, the idea that art has to communicate something is not unchallengeable.


Quote:

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


Good heavens, no. That's what Pogorelich said (or implied); something I repudiate entirely.

Quote:
As for the luthier, I would call him/her a craftsman, artful though though that craft might be.


I suspect that the overlap between 'art' and 'craft' is pretty substantial. But neither terms is particularly easy to define.



Sorry if I miss-quoted. My bad editing again.

Yes, we've been challenging the notion that music communicates something. Most of the contention seems to be centered around whether music communicates (primarily) emotion.

Actually, Dickie's comments, though terse, seem accurate to me. I was particularly taken with an artist "participates with understanding in the making of a work of art," "understanding" being the operative word. I wonder what Dickie means by: "presentation of a work of art by an artist to an artworld public." Is "presentation" the equivalent of a performance? Is this how the artist communicates?

These ideas, as you suggest, can get sticky. In the visual arts, criticism can often hinge on whether a piece is "merely" decorative or whether it has some objective or symbolic meaning. (Don't ask.) What I keep hearing in my head, though, is that "the theory comes after the art," as a way, I suppose, of explaining it. So, it would be normal for artists to be unaware of the theory and can be free to test their own desires.

Re art vrs craft: Overlap, yes. I think string instruments are beautiful to look at. But I think the separation is considerable. Art is normally thought of as something "appreciated primarily for its beauty or emotional power." Whereas craft is utilitarian primarily. Of course, ideally we get both, i.e., a beautiful sofa (or a well-crafted symphony?).



Edited by NeilOS (07/08/11 07:11 PM)
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709832 - 07/08/11 04:41 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: apple*]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: apple*
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Originally Posted By: apple*

I haven't met many naturally expressive children pianists.. it's like they can fake it.. but no.


I taught one prodigy, age 10, who, when she sat down to play, changed from a shy school girl to a wizened master pianist before my eyes.


you're lucky.. a prodigy to me is someone who likes piano and can learn right along, who enjoys lessons and wants to improve.

my needs are simple my experiences few.


And so it is most of the time...
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

Top
#1709845 - 07/08/11 04:52 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: antony]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

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

You may think your description explains "the need for research. " None of this sounds particularly scientific, it is much more of a philosophical discussion,


Can't help you if that's how you feel about the statistical learning research that I summarized.

Originally Posted By: antony

But you have already answered your own question in another thread you began about Chopin's Scherzo: "Super Excited" and the opening chords "divine" and a performance being "truly inspirational."


"Super excited" = excited to learn it.. to be able to play something challenging.

"Divine" = Again, haven't heard such sonorities too often in other works. So yes, divine in that statistical sense.

"Truly inspirational" - Argerich produces an interpretation that engages me with the sound produced. I find it inspirational in the sense that its possible to be original in one's interpretation even if a piece has been overplayed. I can again explain it in terms of statistical learning for you but it would be overkill because I've explained it the best I could. If you want to call it Philosophy, there's nothing more I can explain that will make you understand..
_________________________
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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#1709847 - 07/08/11 04:57 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: antony]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

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

You may think your description explains "the need for research.


Forget my description. The very fact that there is such a big disagreement over what music aims to do primarily is reason enough for more study and better understanding. If you want to dispute that too, go right ahead. I'm not one who subscribes to "ignorance is bliss". It might be a principle by which some people live.. not me. Ignorance irks me. Both my own ignorance and the ignorance of other people. So if I find that I don't understand something or if an explanation that others offer me does not make sense, I strive to dig into it deeper. If that's not how you work, I respect that. However, do not state that there is no research needed just because you couldn't be more bothered.. there is a sizeable community that's interested in knowing more about how we function and music is a huge part of our lives. You find musical instruments made out of animal bones in prehistoric caves.. there is something fundamental about music that entices human beings. If you want to say that Early Men blew bone pipes because they wanted to communicate how angry they were to each other, I'm not buying it.
_________________________
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)

Top
#1709853 - 07/08/11 05:02 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: liszt85
You find musical instruments made out of animal bones in prehistoric caves.. there is something fundamental about music that entices human beings.


There, finally a whole sentence that I agree with.

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#1709864 - 07/08/11 05:17 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: antony

You may think your description explains "the need for research.


Forget my description. The very fact that there is such a big disagreement over what music aims to do primarily is reason enough for more study and better understanding. If you want to dispute that too, go right ahead. I'm not one who subscribes to "ignorance is bliss". It might be a principle by which some people live.. not me. Ignorance irks me. Both my own ignorance and the ignorance of other people. So if I find that I don't understand something or if an explanation that others offer me does not make sense, I strive to dig into it deeper. If that's not how you work, I respect that. However, do not state that there is no research needed just because you couldn't be more bothered.. there is a sizeable community that's interested in knowing more about how we function and music is a huge part of our lives. You find musical instruments made out of animal bones in prehistoric caves.. there is something fundamental about music that entices human beings. If you want to say that Early Men blew bone pipes because they wanted to communicate how angry they were to each other, I'm not buying it.


Why particularly anger? (Just a rhetorical question.) When the prehistoric bones were mentioned I had the image of a lonely prison inmate blowing languidly on a bluesy harmonica, perhaps just for himself but, dare it say it, expressively.

I think you're right. There's no reason to discourage research. I'd rather know than not know.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1709874 - 07/08/11 05:37 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: landorrano]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: landorrano
,


There, finally, something from you that makes sense to me: a comma. wink (Take it easy, just kidding).
_________________________
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)

Top
#1709882 - 07/08/11 05:54 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13764
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I know it's "all in good fun," but can we PLEASE stop the snarky remarks? We are still nearing my "need to lock this thread" threshold.

Thanks.
_________________________
"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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#1709899 - 07/08/11 06:53 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Kreisler, I can't promise not to respond to snarky remarks. I think its fun though.. sorry you don't feel the same way about it. laugh
_________________________
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)

Top
#1709906 - 07/08/11 07:19 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
I am surprised nobody has mentioned Emily Howell. This is a computer program by David Cope that imitates the compositional style of famous composers. In other words, the music was created with no intent (of any kind) whatsoever.

Here is an example of its ability as a composer:



Here is another example, imitating Bach's style:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/bach/ram/jsb_robot_track1.ram

These performances, I don't think I need to tell you, were performed by a human being.

Here is a website describing more about the program
http://www.slate.com/id/2254232/

Top
#1710044 - 07/09/11 02:46 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Kreisler]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I know it's "all in good fun," but can we PLEASE stop the snarky remarks? We are still nearing my "need to lock this thread" threshold.

Thanks.


Very suspicious, this word "snarky." Hey, it's Kreisler, the new user-name of SottoVoce !

Top
#1710056 - 07/09/11 04:13 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
It seems to me that most contributors are saying the same thing but quibbling over their individual comprehension or interpretation of some terminology, semantics in other words.
List85's definition of emotion is highly reductionist or perhaps narrowly defined, while others seem to use the term in a much more comprehensive fashion.


Obviously cognitive neuroscience is not fully developed yet, and therefore sophisticated scientific decoding of the effects and perhaps purpose of music has to wait. Many writings on the subject end up involving empirical- mostly statistically insignificant- observations, metaphysics, philosophy and just a sprinkle of basic neuroscience.
If you start from the basics of what is categorically known, the human brain is wired to have large auditory cortices that serve to acknowledge and interpret all sound (all sensory experiences are "interpretations"). It is also categorically known that these cortices connect with other parts of the brain to assist in the interpretation. For instance, when you hear words, circuits that communicate with memory centers are activated in order to figure out what the word means. Output to specialized speech areas (expressive speech) allow you to make a verbal response if you choose to. That choice is usually made by a higher "cognitive" center in the brain. As you might correctly and intuitively imagine, those auditory cortices also communicate with our "emotional brain, the limbic system, which interestingly is phylogenetically "old", meaning it existed in lower species. Of all our "senses", the olfactory system is the most "wired" into the limbic or emotional system. Some responses are considered "hard wired", usually when seen in lower animals. Thus the smell or the roar of a lion when heard by a potential prey are immediately associated with the emotional response of fear leading to a flight behavior. Well, what each individual "does" with music has to do with what circuits are activated upon hearing it. That is also where cultural experience comes into play. Highly expressive music from foreign e.g.Indian or Arabic cultures will still activate my limbic lobe, thus triggering an "emotional" response but it will be different from that experienced by natives of those cultures. That is because a good component of emotions (using the term in its global sense) is learned, by association (you hear certain harmonies or scales at funerals as a young kid, you associate the sound with the vision of sad people, or even personal loss and you "capture" an interpretation that will remain associated with that particular music. Now if you have many additional experiences in music, ie if you live in a culture where music is prevalent, if you have music lessons as a kid, if you have additional more sophisticated music lessons, you "potentiate" these circuits and you add multiple layers of associations, all the way to scholarly quality.
The human brain is highly capable of adding to its hardwiring by modulating existing circuitry and by "pruning" less utilized networks. So your experiences, pertaining to "emotions" or "higher" cognition (musicology, composition) will be intricately involved in the mix and the end result of how you interpret music, how you perceive your "aims" as a composer or a listener to be.

Obviously the above is a gross simplification, but I think that it is helpful to set the discussion against this framework.


Top
#1710064 - 07/09/11 04:43 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: landorrano]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: liszt85
You find musical instruments made out of animal bones in prehistoric caves.. there is something fundamental about music that entices human beings.


There, finally a whole sentence that I agree with.


A part from the perceived snarkyness of my post, I want to underline that I do truly agree with the statement.

Man has always made music, and man has to make music. It is an imperative of human existence. All human beings do, from their earliest age. It is a necessity that surges from within, like sexuality, like language, and is directed toward an other human being. It is an expression of the fundamentally social nature of each individual ... that is to say that music is at the most basic level a means of communication.

An understanding of the functioning of the brain I don't think is of importance. Because music is not, in the end, an internal affair. It is a social affair.


Edited by landorrano (07/09/11 04:43 AM)

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#1710095 - 07/09/11 07:48 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: landorrano]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: landorrano


An understanding of the functioning of the brain I don't think is of importance. Because music is not, in the end, an internal affair. It is a social affair.


And the brain has nothing to do with social affairs???? Quand meme!

Top
#1710102 - 07/09/11 08:50 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Andromaque]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
Originally Posted By: landorrano


An understanding of the functioning of the brain I don't think is of importance. Because music is not, in the end, an internal affair. It is a social affair.


And the brain has nothing to do with social affairs???? Quand meme!


laugh I'm sure that's true for some people.
_________________________
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)

Top
#1710106 - 07/09/11 09:08 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Andromaque]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
It seems to me that most contributors are saying the same thing but quibbling over their individual comprehension or interpretation of some terminology, semantics in other words.
List85's definition of emotion is highly reductionist or perhaps narrowly defined, while others seem to use the term in a much more comprehensive fashion.


Obviously cognitive neuroscience is not fully developed yet, and therefore sophisticated scientific decoding of the effects and perhaps purpose of music has to wait. Many writings on the subject end up involving empirical- mostly statistically insignificant- observations, metaphysics, philosophy and just a sprinkle of basic neuroscience.
If you start from the basics of what is categorically known, the human brain is wired to have large auditory cortices that serve to acknowledge and interpret all sound (all sensory experiences are "interpretations"). It is also categorically known that these cortices connect with other parts of the brain to assist in the interpretation. For instance, when you hear words, circuits that communicate with memory centers are activated in order to figure out what the word means. Output to specialized speech areas (expressive speech) allow you to make a verbal response if you choose to. That choice is usually made by a higher "cognitive" center in the brain. As you might correctly and intuitively imagine, those auditory cortices also communicate with our "emotional brain, the limbic system, which interestingly is phylogenetically "old", meaning it existed in lower species. Of all our "senses", the olfactory system is the most "wired" into the limbic or emotional system. Some responses are considered "hard wired", usually when seen in lower animals. Thus the smell or the roar of a lion when heard by a potential prey are immediately associated with the emotional response of fear leading to a flight behavior. Well, what each individual "does" with music has to do with what circuits are activated upon hearing it. That is also where cultural experience comes into play. Highly expressive music from foreign e.g.Indian or Arabic cultures will still activate my limbic lobe, thus triggering an "emotional" response but it will be different from that experienced by natives of those cultures. That is because a good component of emotions (using the term in its global sense) is learned, by association (you hear certain harmonies or scales at funerals as a young kid, you associate the sound with the vision of sad people, or even personal loss and you "capture" an interpretation that will remain associated with that particular music. Now if you have many additional experiences in music, ie if you live in a culture where music is prevalent, if you have music lessons as a kid, if you have additional more sophisticated music lessons, you "potentiate" these circuits and you add multiple layers of associations, all the way to scholarly quality.
The human brain is highly capable of adding to its hardwiring by modulating existing circuitry and by "pruning" less utilized networks. So your experiences, pertaining to "emotions" or "higher" cognition (musicology, composition) will be intricately involved in the mix and the end result of how you interpret music, how you perceive your "aims" as a composer or a listener to be.

Obviously the above is a gross simplification, but I think that it is helpful to set the discussion against this framework.



As far as I know, the role of the limbic system isn't fully understood (in fact I don't even know if people still use the term). All I know is that this limbic system that you talk of consists of the hippocampus and the amygdala (and a couple other structures). It is well established that the Hippocampus plays a major role in memory. The amygdala is more a motivational center. So you could imagine it to be important to evaluate situations to judge if they're dangerous or not (and so this structure is important in an evolutionary sense as well). Now, just because you have a structure that is basically a reward/punishment center does not mean that its emotion (as the word is understood generally) that is primary here. Primary here is still violation of expectation. The amygdala goes crazy if you play a sudden ff. Then other structures in the brain comes into play and tells us that its only music.. nothing to worry about (btw, read about the research on goosebumps (though done in the musical context their theory for it is general).. this is exactly what they say about it).

So just because the limbic system is involved, still does not mean that emotion is the primary function of music. It only means, as I've been acknowledging all along, that music elicits emotional responses. In fact, I'd think the role of the hippocampus was higher here than that of the amygdala, in which case memory processes and how they interact with how you process music (by telling you what to expect, etc) can still be argued to be primary. The term "limbic system" (I looked it up on wiki since like I said, I wasn't even sure it was a term that's used a lot currently) is considered by some as obsolete. People don't even completely agree as to what exactly its structure comprises of. It is simple to see why this might be the case. The brain is one huge neural network, all parts are connected to each other via either direct or indirect pathways. So while one group might consider the contribution of one particular structure as more important, I can see another group making the claim for another structure.

We don't know yet about any of this for sure of course. The Neuroscience of Music I imagine is pretty underdeveloped. I know that Petr Janata at UCD does a lot of neuroscience of music. It would be interesting to see what he thinks.. I might ask him sometime.
_________________________
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)

Top
#1710167 - 07/09/11 12:08 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: polyphasicpianist]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 616
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
I am surprised nobody has mentioned Emily Howell. This is a computer program by David Cope that imitates the compositional style of famous composers. In other words, the music was created with no intent (of any kind) whatsoever.

Here is an example of its ability as a composer:



Here is another example, imitating Bach's style:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/bach/ram/jsb_robot_track1.ram

These performances, I don't think I need to tell you, were performed by a human being.

Here is a website describing more about the program
http://www.slate.com/id/2254232/


This is fascinating! I wonder what influence the programmer had on the resulting compositions?

I wonder, too, if the if the computer could do a better job of finishing Mahler's tenth symphony. I'll have to look that up.

Thanks for the links.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

Top
#1710171 - 07/09/11 12:11 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: landorrano]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: landorrano

Man has always made music, and man has to make music. It is an imperative of human existence. All human beings do, from their earliest age. It is a necessity that surges from within, like sexuality, like language, and is directed toward an other human being. It is an expression of the fundamentally social nature of each individual ... that is to say that music is at the most basic level a means of communication.


While it's clear that you believe that -- you've said it several times -- it's not clear why. Maybe the why isn't important, to you anyway. But consider, for example, the notorious view of Stephen Pinker that music is 'auditory cheesecake'. The ability to appreciate music, he says, is merely a by-product of the development of other, more evolutionary adaptive, faculties.

You state your view that music is communicative as if it were self-evident, not even in need of justification. But the fact that there are respected and influential psychologists claiming almost the opposite suggests to me that it is far from self-evident.

As it happens, I'm not saying that I disagree with you. I'm just less confident than you seem to be that, just because I believe something strongly, it must be true.

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