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  1. 1. Do you consider birdsong to be "music"

    • Yep
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    • Nope
      5
    • Kinda
      10
    • 0


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There have been some interesting discussions in the course of critiquing various pieces here that seem to indicate that we all have slightly different views as to what "music" actually is. I thought it might be interesting to discuss this subject in a more general forum. :)

You might notice that I qualified my opening question in the topic title with the words, "to you". This is because I believe that the question of what music actually is is very much subjective. It is something which has a lot to do with one's native culture as well as with external influences throughout our lives, and particularly during our formative years.

I thought the following definition I found one wikipedia was interesting..

"Music: Music is a form of expression in the medium of time using the structures of tones and silence. It is the creation of complex forms in time through construction of patterns and combinations of natural stimuli, principally sound. ".

Now note that there is no mention here of what some of us might consider to be key elements in music, ie. rhythm, melody or harmony. I would suggest that that's because these things are elements in certain kinds of music. Most of the western music we are exposed to most of the time certainly depends to a large extent on these factors. But does that mean that all music can be defined by such criteria? Does it mean that all "good" music should be defined by such criteria? I don't believe so.

Now it's possible that some might suggest this discussion might be better placed in the "Musical Depths" section, and I gave serious consideration to posting it there. I decided not to for two main reasons:

1. It's a subject with direct and specific relevance to certain posts in this forum and

2. This is about "music" per se. Not about "songs". The Musical Depths forum still tends to discuss music in the context of songs. And before anyone suggests that since this is a songwriter's site it makes sense to focus on that aspect of music ;) I would suggest that the same could be true of many other forums around here - miscellaneous for example - where the emphasis is on "words" independant of a songwriting context. :)

I thought it might be fun to start this off with a poll of sorts.

Have fun and play nice kids. :)

Simon

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Well, what I surprise :), I'm the first to jump in here.

First, I actually like that definition of music you included.

"Music: Music is a form of expression in the medium of time using the structures of tones and silence. It is the creation of complex forms in time through construction of patterns and combinations of natural stimuli, principally sound. ".

You say about this definition:

Simon Sayeth:

"Now note that there is no mention here of what some of us might consider to be key elements in music, ie. rhythm, melody or harmony."

I disagree with this ascertion immediately. In regard to rhythm, the definition says "the medium of time" and "tones and silence", which I would maintain is rhythm. In regard to "harmony". The definition says "the structure of tones", which I would maintain contain the physical basis for all harmony. In regard to melody, the definition mentions "structures of tones and silence", and "the creation of complex forms in time through constructions of patterns and combinatinos of natural stimuli, principally sound".

Really, this definition not only addresses rhythm, harmony, and melody, but form as well. It is just stated in very general abstract terms so as to make a universal definition of music.

All rhythm is based on the idea of time, and that something happens, then there is silence, then something else happens. Thus the "tones and silence".

So in a primitive culture rhythm might be represented by say, "yell once, then stomp your foot twice, then yell 3 times". In western music we have notes and rests. Both would be included under "tones and silence".

Western harmony is derived from the physics of a tone being played by a string. Then the string is divided in half for the octave, etc.. I think "the structure of tones" could be considered to be referring to this. Other cultures will differ on pitch(harmony), but these other "scales" can be represented by science/math, just as the western scales can be.

In fact, music really can't exist without time (rhythm), as almost nothing else can exist without the element of time. I mean exist here, in that sense that a movie, a symphony, an African drum performance, or a pop song exists.

I would also point out, that even though a culture's music may not talk about rhythm, harmony, melody and form, it will contain some or all of these elements.

For example, say there is a primitive culture called Kong. And you and I attend a performance of that culture's music. Say they call their music Minga. Say a performance consists of 4 Kongs, one is beating on his head to make a sound, a 2nd is shouting in two different pithces, a 3rd is whistling, and a fourth is striking a log with a stick.

Now, after the performance you and I as asked to try to explain this performance to our friends when we get back home. How would we try to represent this performance so someone who wasn't there could get some idea of what it was like.

Well, we'd have to start with time and rhythm, wouldn't we? We would say perhaps that, "one man was beating on his head to make a sound. He seemed to be following a pattern of 2 rapid hits followed by 3 longer spaced hits, and he would repeat that over and over". We might then say that "one man was shouting, in what seemed to be 2 different pithces. He would shout, and perhaps wait till the first man was half way through his head beating pattern, then shout again with a different pitch".

Anyway, you get the idea. We would, in effect, have to develop some sort of representation of pitch and rhythm to describe the performance.

All western music notation is, is really the same as my example. It's just a formalized, accurate way, to represent when certain events occur, at what pitch they occur, and for how long they are held, or until there is silence before the next event. A lot like MIDI :). MIDI and western music notation are thus, not some alien system "imposed" upon man's freedom, but simply a way to represent "the structures of tones and silence. It is the creation of complex forms in time through construction of patterns and combinations of natural stimuli, principally sound".

Simon. I think you and I will not differ not so much on what music "is", as to what music we "like". We differ on the subjective perception of what we like, I think.

As in my example in another post, I might consider the sound of a drop of water being dropped on a mirror as the most beautiful, wonderful sound ever made, and my favorite "music". Someone else might the score to West Side Story, another might prefer an Aboriginal rhythm/dance performance.

Obviously, we'll never agree on the subjective part.

But I don't think there can be any disagreement about just the representation of music by some form of formalized, agreed upon method.

To repeat my main point, you can not avoid the use of time, rhythm, pitch(melody), and even form, however you choose to represent these things, when you try to describe or represent a musical performance of any kind.

In fact, just a sound recording of the performance would be the most "true" representation.

Eric

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I disagree with this ascertion immediately. In regard to rhythm, the definition says "the medium of time" and "tones and silence", which I would maintain is rhythm. In regard to "harmony". The definition says "the structure of tones", which I would maintain contain the physical basis for all harmony. In regard to melody, the definition mentions "structures of tones and silence", and "the creation of complex forms in time through constructions of patterns and combinatinos of natural stimuli, principally sound".

According to Dictionary.com. Rhythm:Movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions

The key word here, as I understand it, is "regular". That is not a qualification defined in the quoted wikipedia definition of music that we both ostensibly agree with. :)

In addition I would suggest that your definition of "harmony" above is tenuous at best. Harmony is not the "structure of tones" but the relationship between simultaneous tones.

But I agree with your interpretation of "melody". :)

So in a primitive culture rhythm might be represented by say, "yell once, then stomp your foot twice, then yell 3 times". In western music we have notes and rests. Both would be included under "tones and silence".

Eric, my friend, have you actually listened to much music from non-western traditions? And when you use the word "primitive" do you mean any music that doesn't conform to contemporary western musical traditions?

Simon. I think you and I will not differ not so much on what music "is", as to what music we "like". We differ on the subjective perception of what we like, I think.

So very true... and this, in a real sense, has been my point all along. :)

But I don't think there can be any disagreement about just the representation of music by some form of formalized, agreed upon method.

:lol::lol: You don't? ;) So how come we haven't found and agreed upon such a method?

You know mate, food is a matter of taste too. Whenever my mother comes to say she says things like "don't you people ever eat real food?". By "real" she means, of course, the kinds of foods she grew up with and is used to and which she brought her own children up with - not the "strange" mix of a plethora of diverse ethnic culinary influences that our own children have learnt to eat and enjoy.

But with food, at least, there can be some measure of objective evaluation, at least as far as nutrients are concerned (and even in that department there is quite a diversity of opinion). When it comes to music there can be far less unanimity and far less objectivity. :)

Now I want to leave you with a question. I noticed that in at least a couple of posts you have used the term "background music" in what would seem to be a mildly derogatory sense. This one interests me because it's an expression that I have often heard used by a wide variety of people to describe all kinds of music. Generally it seems to me that the term tends to be used in reference to instrumental music - perhaps because it doesn't have words or vocals to grab the listener's attention.

It's an expression I have heard used in relation to music by those such as Bach or Mozart as well as certain kinds of jazz or ambient or whatever music. It's an expression my own wife sometimes uses in reference to anything that happens to be playing when she wishes to converse with people (my wife, much as I love her, doesn't share my passion for music ;) )

So..... my question is this: Do you think it is possible that the expression "background music" is sometimes simply used to describe that music with which we have not truly engaged? In other words, do you think it possible that one person's "background music" might sometimes be anothers' "sublime musical experience"? ;)

Take care bud :)

Simon

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Gee - youse guys gotta lot to say :P

I voted yes - to Simon's basic question about birdsong :)

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I voted yes for the birdsong also.

In regard to the "regular" aspect of rhythm. The defintion you post is really a scientific sort of explanation. What I mean by that, is that the first thing you have to do when you are trying to record any rhythm, is you have to have some regular scale of time to reference to record the rhythms. This might be milliseconds, or the regular pulses of a Cesium atom in the case of the atomic clock. You can't represent a rhythm, a regular, or a very irregular one, without having some method of measuring time to relate it to.

Because we need some sort of regular rhythm, minutes/seconds/milliseconds/nanoseconds/16th notes, doesn't mean that all of the rhythms represented over that regular pulse will be regular.

How do you think the musicians in these native cultures learn to play what they play? I'll bet my life there is some method the teachers in those cultures use, to pass down their music. And yes, it may be just pure memorization. But when they memorize, they are learning the rhythms and pitches so they can re-create them again, aren't they? Their minds are the medium.

Simon, I just think you're wrong about not being able to agree on a way to represent music.

Did you notice my last point. That the best representation of music would be a recording? Surely you would not object to a recording of the music you like as a way to represent it.

With science, that recording could be used to determine pitches and rhythms. There are some programs that will turn a sound recording into a MIDI file. Now, of course, it's limited to one instrument at a time, but even without MIDI, with a sound recording the pitches and rhythms could be determined, even the harmony.

You used the piano roll analolgy in one of your posts. That is just another way to record, or transcribe a performance. The point is, man has the brains and ability to derive methods to record music on paper. Is it perfect? No. Is it pretty good? It's VERY good. Next time you go see an orchestra perform, notice that they are reading the music from notation on paper. Do you think they are able to do a pretty good job of interpreting those notes on paper when you listen to them? Are the rhythm, harmony, and melody there? Gee. Amazing, ins't it.

Corrine, I know what you're saying about the similtaneous striking of the notes for harmony, but that definition was WAY abstract, as it had to be to define music in 30 words or so. The definition does include rhythm, and tone and silence. It doesn't rule out that more than one tone is being struck at one time.

And what I'm saying about the way our harmony was derived in western music is accurate. It is all based on the tones defined by that string, and dividing it into smaller strings. You can derive all of the notes of the scale and you also get the overtone series of the notes. That is the basis for all chords. You start with those scales, then derive the chords from the 3rds, etc.. That is just intonation. Of course, Bach was one of the first to use tempered intonation, so he could play his keyboard with both hands and have it be close to in tune. Thus his Well-Tempered Clavier.

There really is no reason to discuss the representation of music. It's just a fact, my friend. Sure, there are different ways of doing it, MIDI, written notation, a sound recording, but mankind CAN represent music in a formalized way. Do you really dispute this? I'll bet there are representations of the Aboriginal music you speak of. I'll bet people who study that have come up with ways to notate it.

Again, to cover my axx :), I'm not saying music notation, or any system of repreesenting music is PERFECT. I've never claimed that, and never will. But, as my example above with the orchestra reading the score, I think we can agree, can't we, that music notation does at least an adequate job of representing music.

And when I say these things, I am in no way demeaning any music. I welcome all composers to the table, whether they work in the medium of sticks and hammers, or piano or orchestra. Bring it on :).

In regard to my "background music" remarks. You are correct that it is mildly critical of the music. In general, what I'm calling background music, is music without a clearly defined melody. Yes, you can say a major arpeggio played in 8th notes for 4 bars is a melody, but I think we can distinguise between that sort of ostinato melody, and say Tara's Theme. Surely you see this point.

And I know that good melody is not the be all and end all of music. Musis can be adapted to many purposes. One of which is to be played in the background. Not to be the center of attention. I think great melodies grab our attention, and sort of demand to be listened to. An 8th note arpesggio played ad infinitum tends to sort of blend into the background, in my opinion.

DannyDep and Corrine, among others, have mentioned that they are aware of this lack of melody in many of the pieces posted here. And hey, background music is important. A lot of scoring movies and tv shows is being good a background music.

I think the "fact" that humans can devise ways to represent music, sound recording, MIDI, paino rolls, written notation, is an objective fact. Can you really dispute that?

What music is good, is of course subjective, as it should be.

But can't we, you and I Simon, as intelligent humans. agree that there ARE ways to, albeit imperfectly, represent music in a formalized way?

Eric

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I did a quick google search on "aboriginal music notation" and the first on the list was this link.

http://www.manikay.com/didjeridu/notat.shtml

Moyle's Music Notation

Dr Alice M. Moyle uses a notation for the recordings she made of aboriginal music throughout Australia during the 1970's, based upon standard music notation.

As this material is somewhat difficult to find, especially overseas, I have reproduced examples of it here for those with a musical background (unlike myself). This material comes from the companion booklet for a 12-inch LP Disc, Cat. no. AIAS/14, produced by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, 1978 and apparently now out of print. [My apologies for not being able to include sound files linked to the notation - maybe in the future.]

Check it out. And remember, I'm not saying any way of representing music is perfect.

Eric

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Just an observation about birdsong. A mockingbird has been singing near my apartment complex these past few weeks during the very wee hours of the morning (from 1AM to 7AM, off and on) , and I've been privy to listening to how his song has developed. At first, it seemed very tentative - a collection of sounds with many pauses, that didn't seem connected at all. I could make out the various calls - there a robin, there a blue jay, etc. One morning, there was no tentativeness - Rapid fire notes, moving from one song/call to another, without pausing. I observed his "dance" that accompanied this aria - he would leap up about 2 feet into the air, and seemingly "parachute" back down onto his antennae perch and continue singing.

This morning at 2 AM, I listened to his song, and now there are slight pauses, but it is not tentative - and the notes logically follow each other. What I mean is - there will notes that it sings, and the next notes will be a variation on those, and the next notes another variation - and on and on. It will go back to some calls. There is a weaving of a song here. It's not random calls strung together.

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Here is a link to how they notate Indian music, from the country India.

Their notation method is called swar lipi.

http://chandrakantha.com/articles/indian_music/lippi.html

Here is a link talking about attempts to formally represent persian music.

For those interested in Persian music, I've customed some freewares in order to handle Persian music, i.e. using the two specific notations "koron" and "sori".

http://anamnese.online.fr/iran/persian_music.html

Here is a link talking about a Chinese method of notating music known as jianpu.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbered_musical_notation

known as jianpu (Traditional Chinese: 簡譜; Simplified Chinese: 简谱; pinyin: jiǎnpǔ; literally "simplified notation")

Here is a link about a professor and his work on representing American Indian music.

http://www.areditions.com/rr/embellish/2002_18/feature.html

Here is one quote from this site:

After looking at over 6,000 visual representations of American Indian songs produced between 1607 and 1996, I chose 116 musical examples to reproduce in facsimile. The facsimiles are divided into four sections: Explorations of American Indian Music (transcriptions made by explorers, missionaries, ethnographers, and ethnomusicologists); Native Notations and Transcriptions (indigenous notations, such as Ojibwa birch bark scrolls, as well as transcriptions by scholars who are themselves Native Americans);

Here is an interesting link to a site that is proposting a new, univeral way of representing music.

http://www.cs.waikato.ac.nz/~davidb/publications/complete/

A quote from that site:

Historically, different regions of the world developed music notation in isolation, however, Western Music Notation has emerged dominant -- this is reflected in its alternative name, Common Music Notation (CMN). It forms the principal body of printed music in the world today and consequently is the primary interest in OMR work. The described system has been discussed primarily with CMN in mind, however it should be clear from the discussion that the design would not be restricted to CMN.

The system does, however, have its restrictions. Despite the primitive identification `front end' of the system being applicable to more or less any Document Image Analysis problem [bBY92], the anticipated use of time-threads restricts the class of problem that can be solved with the system to 2-dimensional graphical notations representing temporal information. Unfortunately such a restriction excludes documents such as maps and technical drawings, however it would include dance notation. The restriction, therefore, is not seen as severe. There is still a large body of documents that would benefit from the existence of the system described in this report.

Here is a link to a fascinating article about Japanese music. They had some very interesting ideas. They related a lot of what music was and should be to nature.

http://wsu.edu/~dee/ANCJAPAN/MUSIC.HTM

A quote from this article:

The Japanese classified music as gigaku , Togaku , To-sangaku , Koma-gaku , and Rinyu-gaku . Unfortunately, we have no musical notation from this period in Japanese history, but we have some idea of what this music sounded like based on written descriptions.

The dominant secular musical style of ancient Japan was gigaku or Kure-gaku . This was the style of music for the popular dances and pantomimes of southern China and northern Indochina imported into Japan. It is, as near as we can tell, the most popular official music in the late sixth century. Later, however, it fell to become the lowest form of official music

Here is a link to a site where a professor talks about his study interrests.

http://hyoka.ofc.kyushu-u.ac.jp/search-cgi/details/K002318/e

A quote from that site:

1. Studies on XML Notational Database System for Traditional Music

I have studied on notational data format using XML for describing traditional Japanese musical notation. In 2003 data formats for traditional Chinese vocal music and Korean music were also defined. As related application, such devices as to edit our formats efficiently, to describe Variante information of the pieces rationally, and to convert our formats into Music XML and standard MIDI file have been developed.

Anyway, I think you get the idea.

Eric

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Excellent observations about the birdsong, Corrine. I'll bet some of the original influences on human music were from the animals, and the sounds they make.

I'm no expert on birdsongs, but I believe that each species of bird has it's own "songs". You can see this with people that learn these songs. You can recoginize the species of bird by it's song.

They are definitely not random for the most part. Many are associated with behaviors, such as mating, protection, location, etc..

Eric

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Simon, I just think you're wrong about not being able to agree on a way to represent music.
Actually Eric, I think I misunderstood you. My apologies! I thought you were referring to some kind of universal and objective method for evaluating the relative "quality" of music. I should have paid closer attention. ;)
In regard to my "background music" remarks. You are correct that it is mildly critical of the music. In general, what I'm calling background music, is music without a clearly defined melody. Yes, you can say a major arpeggio played in 8th notes for 4 bars is a melody, but I think we can distinguise between that sort of ostinato melody, and say Tara's Theme. Surely you see this point.

And I know that good melody is not the be all and end all of music. Musis can be adapted to many purposes. One of which is to be played in the background. Not to be the center of attention. I think great melodies grab our attention, and sort of demand to be listened to. An 8th note arpesggio played ad infinitum tends to sort of blend into the background, in my opinion.

The key words in the above, to me, are the final three. It is, indeed, your opinion. It is not necessarily my own. I don't need a lyrical melodic line to hold my attention and stop music from "fading into the background" and, while I appreciate that this is the experence of many, it is certainly not the experience of perception of all listeners and music lovers.

The thing is, Eric, that for me it's not a matter of my tastes and opinions versus your tastes and opinions or those of anyone else. To me it's more about not confusing our tastes and opinions with some kind of objective and absolute value judgement.

When I first suggested setting up this forum it was with a view to having a place where people who had an interest in music beyond the context of "songs" could share and express that interest - regardless of what form it might take. My concern is that anyone should feel that music posted here should conform to any particular format or preconceptions. I would like to feel that if someone wishes to post a recording of themselves hitting a log with sticks they should feel as free and welcome to do so as someone else might feel in posting a midi-based composition for a symphony orchestra. I would like to feel that Stockhausen or Battiato or Coltrane or Cage or Shankar would feel as welcome here as would, say, Bach or Mozart. That's all. :)

And I'm not saying we shouldn't feel to offer our honest thoughts and opinions about what is posted here. If our preference is for more melody or whatever then of course it is fair to say, "this doesn't have enough melodic content for me". But let's not start saying "music posted here should have more melodic content".

Is that fair enough?

Cheers

Simon :)

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Fair enough, Simon.

I think our two perspectives might be helpful to some of the posters.

I'll try to take into consideration the "style" of the music when I critique.

Eric

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I'll try to take into consideration the "style" of the music when I critique.

Me too. :)

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Well, when I saw the question, I thought I was going to hear what you thought music was, not what Mr. Webster or the Internet had to say about music. <_<

After all, let?s get naked here. B)

Everybody has their own idea of what music is to them.

What is Music to me? :rolleyes:

It is the best tool that I have at my disposal to be able to express my emotions to myself and to others.

It is my adult pacifier.

It is my turn-on.

It is my way of staying in contact with the rest of the universe.

It helps me stay sane.

It allows me to be passionate, sad, happy and every emotion in between.

It?s right up there at the top of Maslow?s pyramid. :)

There?s something in music that soothes the savage beast. :rolleyes:

And yes, there is a Western bias totally controlled by my experiences.

P.S. Birds make beautiful music.

Why did I just suddenly think of Eva Cassidy singing Songbird.

I'll bet she was thinking about birds singing as she expressed herself in that song.

She is my Songbird.

I just had to go listen to it, twice.

That Angel's voice :rolleyes: makes me at peace with the world.

That's what music is to me.

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On a purely subjective and personal level music is so many things to me that it's hard to pinpoint any one single definition. The words, "sound that gratifies" just popped into my head.

Is that right? I'm not sure. What does it mean to "gratify"? Just a sec... it's time for a quick dictionary check.

OK... here's the simplest definition for gratify: "To please or satisfy".

So... music, to me, is sounds that please or satisfy... me.

Now, of course, that which pleases or satisfies me (or anyone) is a matter of all kinds of subjective things as well as all kinds of circumstantial things. Those sounds which "gratify" (one word is quicker than two ;) ) me when I'm dancing, for example, are quite different from those that gratify me when I'm cooking, or driving, or riding my bike, or walking in the bush, or having sex, or meditating, or working in the garden or whatever.

Of course there are many sounds that I will never find gratifying and that are therefore, to me, not "music". Just as, to me, raw monkeys brains are not "food" because I have never been (and am never likely to be) in a mood or circumstance where I find them gratifying, it doesn't mean that the cannot be "food" (a delicacy even) to those in different circumstances and with different perspectives. Same thing with music. Just because a set of sounds is not "music" to me doesn't mean it can't, or shouldn't, be to someone else!

When anyone says something like, "yeah.. but it's not real music!" It reminds me of my mother and her, "don't you people ever eat real food?" comments when she has come to stay. To her things like stir-fries and pastas and sushi etc aren't what she considers to be "real" food because she wasn't brought up with it, doesn't understand it, finds it odd. It doesn't "gratify" her. Fair enough.

Of course we can learn to understand, enjoy and appreciate other foods if we are open to trying, but it's probably easier if we start when we're young. That's why I've always encouraged my kids to try pretty much anything and everything they are served. Same with music and sounds. Sure they'll form (and are forming) their tastes and preferences... and good on them... but at least they understand that such things are not absolutes, which helps them in being a little more tolerant and understanding of those whose preferences differ.

Sorry if that was all a little long-winded and convoluted. :rolleyes:;)

Simon :)

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Let's face it, we'll never define music to everyone's satisfaction.

It's like the supremes ( the US Supreme Court ) ,said about porn. I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. With music, we know it when we hear it.

It probably makes more sense, when discussing music, to not so much worry about the definition, but directly address the music itself. You don't really have to nail down an exact defintion of music to discuss it.

Look at any first year college music theory text for a start at how to discuss music.

Eric

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Let's face it, we'll never define music to everyone's satisfaction.

.....................

It probably makes more sense, when discussing music, to not so much worry about the definition, but directly address the music itself. You don't really have to nail down an exact defintion of music to discuss it.

......................

Eric

AMEN Brother!!

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Guest Stewart Alexander

Relative.

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To me, music is many things:

1. An organized group of sounds, which are pleasing to the ear.

2. A form of healing/therapy.

3. Source of emotion, be it happiness, sorrow, etc.

4. Reflections of our Souls.

5. My #1 Passion.

6. My Life.

7. The reason for living.

8. Addictive

Peace y'all!

~Malika :P

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Let's face it, we'll never define music to everyone's satisfaction.

....................................... I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. With music, we know it when we hear it.

Eric

Err no "we" don't necessarily.

There are many people who would not view 4:33 as music yet that's how John Cage heard it. By all accounts he visited some sound proof room but instead of silence heard his own body.

There are those who would listen to Trout Mask Replica and claim that it wasn't music it was just an unpleasant noise.

It's down to definitions and expectations. If you are educated in the Western music tradition you expect certain things of your music. Recognisable harmony and regular rythms perhaps so when faced with a piece consisting of a constantly varying loop of a spoken phrase it's more difficult to accept it as music. Similarly hearing an Eastern scale for the first time or a Balkan piece in 7/9 can also be disorientating although it may be easier to accept that it's music but not as you understand it.

This thread is about "What is music to you?" and my point is that it can be anything. Music to me is sounds that bring me pleasure, the sound of a big Guzzi and the sound of laughter. It's the sound of the wind when I'm indoors. It's Captain Beefheart, John Cage and the Beatles. It's the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band, it's Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time and Bach's Mass in B Minor. It's Gregorian Chant, it's silence. It's a train rumbling in the distance, It's the angular guitars of XTC and the smoothness of Miles Davis. It's the "wallpaper music" of Satie and rawness of the Sex Pistols.

Music for me is not the sound of nails on a blackboard, a circular saw, a child crying in pain.

Just my opinion of course :)

Cheers

Dick

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Not much to add on this one, other than I'm much more on the side of those who included expression of emotion as being as or more important than basic elements. Music, to me, most simply, is sound that creates a mood - and that includes a lot of things, as Dick pointed out.

I remember sitting on a swing set with my eldest daughter on my lap, facing me, swishing back and forth through the air, and the wind blowing through the tall trees near us. Nothing else at all - god I wish I could capture how I felt that day and the sound of the moving air in a piece of music. But so much of that kind of thing is tied up in the place, the time, and what came before and after. Kind of like going and seeing a great player when he or she is spot on, and you're feeling good, and the audience and the venue are all just filled with vibe.

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Being a percussionist, I consider almost all sound to be a form of music.

I suppose it having a form is important, but usually, if it doesn't have one that can be readily felt, then it's time to make one that works for the listener.

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I'm glad to see that most people here consider birdsong to be music because birdpoop definitely couldn't be... lol.

Anyway, along that line... that's why I give my opinion. I am not a music industry professional; I am an unorthodox musician (though I do know theory) and beginner audio dabbler.

I try not to give my opinion based on the things I like (based on, i.e. commercialism, etc... ). I try to give information based on what I hear and maybe mistakes someone might be making, like bad recording habits or nuances that may hurt a performance.

Remember, it's just my opinion and may not be neccessarily correct by any standard... just mine.

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Music to me is a form of communication. It's no different than writing, talking, sign language, brail, morse code or Pig Latin.

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I use the Varese definition: "Organized Sound." By that, I mean but a modicum of organization. I'm a "noise" musician.

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I use the Varese definition: "Organized Sound." By that, I mean but a modicum of organization. I'm a "noise" musician.

The question must surely be begged: organised by whom?

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Aha! The root of the matter. Who organizes birdsong?

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I use the Varese definition: "Organized Sound." By that, I mean but a modicum of organization. I'm a "noise" musician.

The question must surely be begged: organised by whom?

By a composer, a songwriter, or, in some circumstances, by the listener. In rare instances, there is a symbiotic relationship between the one generating the noise and the one hearing it, such that the organization is a collaboration. Have you ever actually heard music, Simon?

Aha! The root of the matter. Who organizes birdsong?

The bird.

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OK Calvin (as opposed to Hobbs) lol! Thank God we're all diverse. That's what makes this a good thing!

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The question is: what is music to me? Music is a tonal expression of emotion... pure and simple in my mind....

LTH

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One can only conclude after reading this forum that music is whatever the heck you want it to be. No more, no less.

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Thanks for bumping this Ammon, it actually caught my attention this time.

For the poll question Do you consider birdsong to be "music" I did vote yes, and if anyone disagrees they may want to check out these links first, found it to be pretty fascinating.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/0304/01.html click on the 12:47 min. video.

http://www.whybirdssing.com/ and check out "slowing down the sounds" side link.

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And now, You thought there was not enough controversy here in this topic!

You were wrong! :lol:

I shall mention a piece that calls for more:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUJagb7hL0E

J. Cage's 4.33!

4 minutes and 33 seconds of total silence by the performer in 3 movements. All movements on a separate page and marked with a pause.

I noticed a couple of you here saying that "sounds" are music. While I'd personally specify, that, yes to me "organized" sound is the keyword that defines music. John Cage would disagree however... as he said that "If you listen to Mozart, it's always the same. Traffic however, is always different." He took sound as music. This is to me, very controversial as "music" to me also means a form of art or a craft. Traffic is chaos, not a craft - to me. But I respect any different view on this matter so I ask upon yours as well.

- here's a cool interview with the guy also. VERY, VERY interesting thoughts. He was certainly an innovator on thinking about music.

On the question on birdsong. I think it definitely can be defined as music. After all... it is organized sound. And yes, organized by the birds themselves.

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It's an expression I have heard used in relation to music by those such as Bach or Mozart

Blimey, geezer, you must be very old.

Birdsong is birdsong.

In the hands of, say, Olivier Messaien, it can become music.

We might just as well ask, and with equal productive reward: “Were the Sex Pistols birdsong ?”

4’.33” isn’t music.

It is conceptual humour.

Interesting thread.

Carry on.

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4’.33” isn’t music.

It is conceptual humour.

Whoa, I wouldn't be so fast in disregarding it as music.

Yes, Cage often seemingly resolved to conceptual humor.. or shock therapy. Yet his true intentions were always to raise actual questions on these matters.

The emphasis on the composition 4.33, after all, is said not to be on the actual "pauses" but on the sounds you still can hear in the silence. It's there to remind us that we actually cannot experience utter silence. The music is still in the "sounds".

But are they now organized enough within those pauses to be called music?

After all, they are presented in 3 movements...

When do "sounds" become distinguished enough to be music? I'd say a lot of contemporary classical music is playing with sounds rather than notes.

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Whoa, I wouldn't be so fast in disregarding it as music.

How quick am I allowed to be ?

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... they must feel stupid.

Oh, I LOVE the orchestra.

I bet they had a marvellous time.

And I am a sucker for grand theatrical entertainment.

Don't see the point of having to call it music, though.

But who cares ? We all need a good laugh.

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We might just as well ask, and with equal productive reward: "Were the Sex Pistols birdsong ?"

I have known some people refer to their output as "music" (the Sex Pistols, that is) so I guess it is all really a matter of perception. Personally, given the choice between a Sex Pistols album and one of birdsong, the latter would be more "musical" to my ears.

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Lazz: "Birdsong is birdsong.

"In the hands of, say, Olivier Messaien, it can become music.

"We might just as well ask, and with equal productive reward: “Were the Sex Pistols birdsong ?” "

I disagree. I think "were the sex pistols birdsong?" is equivalent to "Is birdsong human music"

I think an equivalent question to "Is birdsong music?" is "Do wolves run?" or "Do people swim?" or "Do lions hunt?"

If you want to make things more specific, you could ask "were the sex pistols singing?" to which Johnny Rotten would answer "No", atleast with regards to his own use of a microphone.

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Music is what ever the individual decides it is. But, it sure does help if at least a few others agree with that individual so he doesn't feel alone :unsure:

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I think an equivalent question to "Is birdsong music?" is "Do wolves run?" or "Do people swim?" or "Do lions hunt?"

I think if the question had been "Do birds sing?" then I would agree with your equivalence.

But, as it stands, the latter three questions have fact-based, observational answers.

Whereas the question "Is birdsong music" demands a value-based answer.

Hence - equivalence is illusory.

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I go for the organised sound outlook, too ... and that begs the question of whether birdsong is organised. I believe it is, but is there intentionality behind the organising, or does it just arise that way? Perhaps it is not the same kind of intentionality as there is in human music, so then, does it count? Personally, I find it difficult to think of birdsong as music - I think of it more as a sound phenomenon, which does not mean I don't think it is beautiful. But I am open to being convinced that it is music. I think it is possible to use birdsong in music and then it is part of the music, but that is not what's being asked.

I still think of John Cage's 4'33" as music, but I have a classical background with a strong 20thC music history interest. It is the intentionality and 'framing' of the silence that make 4'33" music to my way of thinking, the context - but again, it is not something I feel unable to keep processing and thinking about.

In general what I am looking for is chances to discuss ideas with the greatest possible openness, not the feeling that people have completely made their mind up and just want to defend a viewpoint come what may. New understanding is always possible.

Christina B)

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Thanks for this helpful information

I like music with awesome guitar solos; fast, upbeat music; and music which you can just hear is really well written!

Create MySpace Music profile for Midnight Hour

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One can only conclude after reading this forum that music is whatever the heck you want it to be. No more, no less.

it took me way too long to read this thread.........and i'm always told i'm pretty wordy, wow

oh and i voted yes......i have a cockateel (sp?) that never sings the same thing twice, but rather the same melody of sorts....and it changes everyday he adds to it takes things away, makes little changes here and there and it is a great alarm clock

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Music to me is a form of communication...

I think this important to consider as well. Music is not really interesting as mere expression, a single persons attempt to disseminate personal things inside-out. It gets more interesting as something that tries to build caring relationships with others (ref. "communicare", "commune").

This is where style comes in. If you play hard rock, you probably won't gain many friends in the smooth jazz community ect. So, style is an important part of communicating through music, because style identifies people who has something, taste/values ect., in common. Expressing yourself in the wrong style, or mixing up styles (however interesting), can be provoking to some, because that is messing with the common identifiers, and ultimately the relationships.

Because music is also communication is also why it does make sense to review every song in terms of "commercial" potential, even if the writer is just saying that there are no such ambition with a song (claims: it's just a personal "expression"), because "commercial" basically means how well a song communicates with large crowds (many people), within the given style.

But it cannot be a matter of either expression or communication, because "good" expression are likely the expression that succeeds in describing the inner state or the subject of the song in the most precise way, and "good" communication are likely the communication that reaches out to the most people. So, it must be a both/and. The ultimate song IMO, is therefore one that succeeds in reaching it's fullest potential in the precision department concerning expression as well as the reaching out department concerning commercial potential.

Oh, the complex marriage between personal art and commercial markets.

Just my take on it :ph34r:

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I believe that attempting to define music only serves to limit our perception of its power. I do not wish to define music - I am satisfied that something can be identified as music so long as the person giving it either a voice, or ears, identifies it as music. My inability to identify something as being musical does not change the fact that to someone else, that thing may be identified as music.

I reject the anthropocentric view that says that only humans have access to music, because my ears tell me that the songs of birds (and whales) are music. One also should consider that our perception of music has likely been skewed by human culture and the value it has placed on music for centuries. There is little doubt that humanity has separated its view of music vs. other forms of communication, largely because there has been a long tradition of music (in the West) as an economic commodity. In many societies that have not fetishized the "musician", music is a vital means of communion for nearly all members of the society. In the past, people would run down the street and sit on the porch with their Uncle Jed and Aunt Butchie, and sing traditional songs. Today, we pay Lady Gaga huge sums of money to entertain us.

I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't think that birds have separated their songs (music?) from other means of communication available to them. And it is kind of funny, that the main reason many birds sing, is to get laid. Anyone who has seen the documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years" knows that many, many aspiring (allegedly human) musicians have had this same motivation.

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Your post, Rich, is music to my ears!

It is my belief that music is cause for other species, besides birds, to get laid, including humans. Therefore music is an evolutionary necessity for our species' very survival. (I spout this where ever I can, in an effort for our culture to consider music creation (playing, composing, etc.) a priority, especially by putting music back into primary schools...)

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Yes, technological advances turn us into specialists, passive in other fields, and lead to the arts being something we observe instead of make.

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I think music means different things to different people, and, different things to the same people over different years of their life. Psychologists and marketers tell us we tend to live out the music of our teens and twenties, our intended years of mating activity, long after we have passed those years. (They call it the "rule of add twenty." Add twenty to your birth year and that's the music you will always identify with.

Depending how serious people get about music, that can make a difference. Speaking for myself, I tend to focus on a particular style. I think most musicians do, too. That means in our own production, we tend to specialize.

We can like anything.

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