[PD] Am I alone?

Matt Barber brbrofsvl at gmail.com
Mon Mar 21 23:47:56 CET 2011

>>>> If you want a shortcut, take the Modernist approach--  you just
>>>> completely disregard the aesthetic/cultural/social context in which the
>>>> "art" is made, reimagine the "art" as a self-contained, closed "work",
>>>> and just assume that every "artist" in the world is either another
>>>> modernist or some primitive outgrowth of a particular process that can be
>>>> data mined to add a new layer of complexity to a future modernist
>>>> project.
>>> I don't object, but for some people, this is exactly the type of thing
>>> that could cause disillusion. Like, for the person who started this
>>> thread, perhaps.
>>> For me, that would just be one of many approaches. Not something as
>>> fundamental as an ideology, not that we need to define one.
>> The "what is music" question is the first thing we discuss in my
>> undergraduate composition courses. I usually find that kind of
>> discussion rather crass, but it's important to have it with students
>> who have little experience with "modern" music beyond Rachmaninov. I
>> have them read some Wittgenstein -- the famous passages at the
>> beginning of the philosophical investigations where he talks about
>> language games and then asks "what is a game?" and talks about "family
>> resemblances." The idea is to explode the essentialist position, which
>> amounts to having tons of sufficient criteria but almost no necessary
>> ones. Then I'm able to refer to the idea throughout the semester when
>> they're inclined not to think of say, music by Ligeti or Berio as
>> music.
>> But really, the whole discussion feels pretty distasteful.
>> Matt
> In retrospect I was afraid, partly because of my bad English, I had made
> a few remarks that were not very clear, and that they would be easily
> misunderstood. Or even offensive to someone.
> However, I would be interested to know what you mean by this discussion
> being distasteful.
> --
> ailo

My apologies for that remark -- it's not quite how I meant it. I did
not mean this particular discussion or anything anyone here said. What
I mean is that the broad "what is music" discussion overall tends to
annoy me and make me sad, sick at heart, etc. In fact it's one that I
quite enjoy when the parties are discussing responsibly and in good
faith. I suppose I feel the same way about the "is there a god" or
"what is god" question -- it can be a fun and sometimes even fruitful
discussion, but most often there is astonishingly little new territory
to cover, many reasons for nasty partisan disputes and so forth. I
guess I've had too many "potentially distasteful" conversations turn
to actually distasteful ones, so "the discussion" (in the broad sense)
feels distasteful to me. Nothing any of you have said have made me sad


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