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Talking Bach with Pianist Ramin Bahrami
Iranian pianist Ramin Bahrami is considered one of today's most interesting interpreters of Johann Sebastian Bach's music. A regular performer at Cremona Musica, Bahrami and flutist Massimo Mercelli presented works from their latest CD, "Bach Sanssouci", on the Decca label. Piano Street's Patrick Jovell was happy to get the chance to talk to the inspirational performer. Read more >>

Topic: "Music is" ... here's my problem:  (Read 4207 times)

Offline Mayla

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"Music is" ... here's my problem:
on: February 27, 2014, 07:09:02 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline kalirren

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 07:17:44 PM
French writers of that period were apt to be pretty Platonic in their thought, much more so than we are now.  Don't let it get to you.  When an assertion like that looks overly simple, I think it's because that's exactly what it was intended to be: distilled in simplicity, the better to approach some Formal truth, in whose existence they had faith.
Beethoven: An die Ferne Geliebte
Franck: Sonata in A Major
Vieuxtemps: Sonata in Bb Major for Viola
Prokofiev: Sonata for Flute in D Major

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 07:28:56 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline quantum

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 07:30:41 PM
Read in a non-linear manner.  In other words, not beginning to end.  Save the opening for the very last thing you read.  The statement may make more sense once you have digested what follows it.  



Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 07:57:21 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 09:31:58 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #6 on: February 28, 2014, 01:20:32 AM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline lateromantic

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #7 on: February 28, 2014, 03:22:59 PM
"Music is the science of sounds; therefore sound is the principal subject of music." - from Rameau's Treatise on Harmony, Chapter One, first sentence.

It is the opening premise on what this book is based on, and I instantly have a multitude (an unidentifiable, possibly infinite amount) of questions, objections, disagreements, agreements ... to the point where I can't think.  How am I supposed to read the rest of this book, while I am stumped on the very first sentence and the premise which this book is based upon?  This rattling around in my mind ... GRRRRRRRR  >:( >:(
Give old Jean-Philippe a little credit:  He was trying to make a point.  He was arguably the originator of modern music theory (building on the discoveries of Mersenne), and his purpose in that tome was to emphasize how music relates to the physical attributes of sound (especially the overtone series).  Of course it had been understood since ancient times that music used mathematical relationships, but before Rameau's era that was usually construed in more mystical or Platonic/Pythagorean terms:  Music reflected the "music of the spheres," the guiding mathematics of the universe.  But if Rameau observed that there was a non-mystical, physical basis for music, the genius of his compositions nevertheless makes it amply clear that he understood that music was very much an art, and not just a science.

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #8 on: February 28, 2014, 04:53:06 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #9 on: February 28, 2014, 05:00:18 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline lateromantic

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #10 on: February 28, 2014, 07:45:13 PM
I don't doubt his contributions!  And I believe I have a lot to gain from reading this book.  But, I struggle (quite a bit) with non-holistic ideas, so much so that it's actually nearly impossible for me to gain anything from them if I cannot somehow bridge the information I am receiving into holistic concepts myself.  It is very difficult for me to take in information, in a meaningful way, without considering almost everything else about existence and being (that I can) along with it.  I am always aware that there is some kind of context from which the information I am being given is being presented, even if I don't know what that context actually is.  I can't help but know that there were religious, philosophical, psychological, social, political, geographic, technological, educational (etc.) tendencies of the time, and that part of Rameau's own perspective was afloat amid a sea of what came before him regarding all of that, too, as well as whatever was occurring in his own lifetime.  And then, I am a reader with my own set of influences.  So, if I have "one" question, it's more like an infinite number of questions ... heaven forbid I have two questions!  :P

Because of all of this, it can take me a very long time (years) to fully digest information and turn out a pearl.  I have very rarely been able to deal well with standard schooling because of this, and just having gained a post high school degree at all was an epic effort of keeping the blinders on and looking in a single direction.  I'm guessing this is something that people who have always had access to correctly-fitted educational resources and support systems know pretty much nothing about  :-*
First, as a reader, your best approach might be just to try to absorb the book for what it is first and to wait until you've finished it (or read as much as you planned to read) before trying to assimilate it into a larger context and making a final evaluation of it.

Perhaps what struck me the most in Rameau's writings was his theory of dissonance and his explanation of how it creates forward motion in music.  I sometimes think of that when I hear that perpetual-motion, boundless energy effect in late Baroque music.  In this Rameau, like other writers of his time, was probably influenced by the new Newtonian system and the associated idea that the universe itself is a kind of clockwork, constantly propelled forward by physical forces.

It's not easy reading.  My reading was in a graduate school course.  I also used a few pages of it for an annotated translation (French to English) project.

Offline ignaceii

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #11 on: February 28, 2014, 08:45:07 PM
That heavens to me to. That's why I had many disagreements with teachers early on.
Now, passed 50, we tend to let the man speak out. And who am I confronted with Rameau on harmony. What did we to clarify or correct further his ideas ? I'd be humble in a sense.
But if you start seeing it all from different perspectives at once, you are lost.
Keep focused on 1 thing at the time, and the calmer you are, the better you will understand at the end why he wrote the first sentence.

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #12 on: February 28, 2014, 10:04:04 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #13 on: February 28, 2014, 11:48:40 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

theholygideons

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #14 on: March 01, 2014, 12:14:29 AM
Ok, I've started my peripheral journal, and here is the first (raw) entry on the tiniest tidbit of the first sentence:

Rameau:  Music is the science of sounds; (...therefore sound is the principal subject of music.)

Me:  "1.  No.  There exists music which is relative, and music which is absolute.  Relative music, which is what we are referring to, is the organization of human observation of the world and humankind’s intention within context of it, represented in part through sound, all within the relative, human perception and belief of existence as occurring in time."

This is going well ...  :P
What the flying f*ck does your argument have to do with Rameau's proposition. What you're reading is about Rameau's treatise on harmony, so the relationship between sounds is basically what you'd expect from such a book. It's a book on musical phonology and syntax in which the hierarchy of tones and the composition of triads all originated from the overtone series and dominant, tonic relationships. What you're talking about, 'organization of human observation of the world and humankind’s intention within context of it', is completely irrelevant to the purely practical side of harmony. What you're referring to is more about musical semantics, i.e. the deeper meaning that arises from the composer's use of a specific sequence of chords, for the purpose of evoking an emotional or intellectual response within the listener, which you could investigate further, perhaps by watching Leonard Bernstein's musicology lectures from Harvard.

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #15 on: March 01, 2014, 12:16:35 AM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

theholygideons

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #16 on: March 01, 2014, 12:21:22 AM
Does not compute  ;D
... You seem incredibly ignorant. Have you watched Leonard Bernstein's lectures on phonology, syntax and semantics? perhaps that may open your eyes.

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #17 on: March 01, 2014, 12:33:46 AM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

theholygideons

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #18 on: March 01, 2014, 01:54:19 AM
Do you think that, if formalized learning structures have no interest in helping somebody like me to learn, I ought to have interest in learning within formal learning structures?
Not sure. But I think you're thinking too much ahead, when you're learning.

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #19 on: March 01, 2014, 01:55:45 AM
i can definitely see how the first sentence may come off as an oversimplification, or "missing the point", but you shouldn't limit your perspective. Even if you have this "disability" that makes you incompatible with regimented styles of learning, you should try to push aside your misgivings so you can read the freaking book.

theholygideons

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #20 on: March 01, 2014, 02:09:32 AM
yes, the 'freaking' book.

Offline Bob

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #21 on: March 01, 2014, 03:26:16 AM
The translator is going to influence those lines, French to English.

You could 'cheat' and see what other people say about the treatise.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Philippe_Rameau
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trait%C3%A9_de_l%27harmonie_r%C3%A9duite_%C3%A0_ses_principes_naturels

1722... They're not thinking that same way about music back then.  

https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b86232459

https://www.chmtl.indiana.edu/tfm/18th/RAMTRA1_TEXT.html
https://www.chmtl.indiana.edu/tfm/18th/RAMTRA2_TEXT.html
https://www.chmtl.indiana.edu/tfm/18th/RAMTRA3_TEXT.html
https://www.chmtl.indiana.edu/tfm/18th/RAMTRA4_TEXT.html
https://www.chmtl.indiana.edu/tfm/18th/RAMTRAS_TEXT.html


Just accept that's what he was thinking.  Music is science.  It's made up of sound.  So study sound.  Want to study music?  Then study what it is -- sound.  Sounds kind of like a generic opening line.  Pretty broad.  You don't have to agree with it.  That's just where he coming from, his philosophy, and that's how he'll be discussing music in the whole treatise probably.  

I'd lean towards Rameau.  He said what he meant in a sentence or two.  Music = sound.  Study sound.  And I'd follow everyone who's saying this influence music theory, etc.  Rameau must be saying something pretty important.



https://www.musicacademyonline.com/composer/biographies.php?bid=38     ::)
Probably ok, however credible this site is...
"Among the important contributions of this treatise was first, its identification of the bass as the theoretical generator of harmony (although practicing musicians had recognized it as such for some time). Second, the treatise was also the first work to address chord roots and inversions.  Significantly, Rameauís treatise influenced music theory for the next two hundred years."
So, he says the bass is very important and you can invert chords and it's still the same chord.
Is this the guy who first said, "This is the major scale, and this is the minor scale?"
All that sounds like it's following that opening line.  Maybe he meant "tones" instead of "sound."

Might be something interesting here...
https://www.amazon.com/Treatise-Harmony-Dover-Books-Music/product-reviews/0486224619/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?showViewpoints=1


And there's got to be a ton of masters and doctoral work on this.  This is the kind of stuff academics will eat up and write papers and analyze over and over.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline kevin69

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #22 on: March 01, 2014, 03:54:42 AM
Ok, I've started my peripheral journal, and here is the first (raw) entry on the tiniest tidbit of the first sentence:

Rameau:  Music is the science of sounds; (...therefore sound is the principal subject of music.)

Me:  "1.  No.  There exists music which is relative, and music which is absolute.  Relative music, which is what we are referring to, is the organization of human observation of the world and humankindís intention within context of it, represented in part through sound, all within the relative, human perception and belief of existence as occurring in time."

This is going well ...  :P

Could you explain what you mean by 'absolute music' please?

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #23 on: March 01, 2014, 05:29:31 AM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline awesom_o

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #24 on: March 01, 2014, 01:17:30 PM
Could you explain what you mean by 'absolute music' please?

Here you go:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_music

Quite a distinct category from this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Program_music

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #25 on: March 01, 2014, 08:12:25 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline ignaceii

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #26 on: March 01, 2014, 11:31:57 PM
Lay down, close your eyes, imagine you are in heaven, ever calm, calmer and calmer. Feel the chakras starting to resonate in perfect harmony. Because heaven is perfect harmony.
Open your eyes after half an hour, and smile at the book. Rameau is now your friend.

Offline kevin69

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #27 on: March 02, 2014, 02:37:03 AM
When people state something as fact that i find infuriating,
a trick that works for me is to (mentally) insert the phrase
'From my perspective,' in front of what they have said.

This converts a statement which i think is false into a misguided
opionion of a viewpoint which is different to mine because the
other person has had different experiences.

Having different perspectives on a subject is something that i find much easier
to deal with without getting angry and aggressive.

So in this case:

Rameau: Music is primarily about sound.
Mayla: Music is primarily about emotion.
Both: You are wrong. I can learn nothing from you.

becomes:

Rameau: From my perspective, music is primarily about sound.
mayla: From my perspective, music is primarily about emotion.

and from there both parties can respect each others perspective, experience and
knowledge and learn something from each other because its easy to accept that
different viewpoints let you different aspects of the same thing (in this case music)
Hopefully, anyway :)

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #28 on: March 02, 2014, 03:52:03 AM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline ahinton

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #29 on: March 02, 2014, 12:14:00 PM
I don't believe in emotions
Then I am very, very sorry for you.

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline awesom_o

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #30 on: March 02, 2014, 02:16:37 PM
Mayla,

You should play some Rameau!

His music plays wonderfully on the modern piano.

I find it very emotionally engaging music to play, myself!

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #31 on: March 02, 2014, 03:52:53 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline ahinton

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #32 on: March 02, 2014, 05:35:22 PM
No need to feel sorry for me, Alistair!  I am not devoid of soul.
I did not for one moment suggest that you were/are; I merely stated that if you do not believe in (human) emotions I am very, very sorry for you (not least because belief or otherwise in something whose very existence is an irrefutable fact seems to be rather pointless)...

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline ignaceii

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #33 on: March 02, 2014, 07:03:18 PM
Someone who doesn't believe in emotions, should better not be involved in music, because music is expresses the inner person of the composer, showing his emotions in his music.
Or you can compose for electronic devices, who are robots, like you in a sense.
What do you think when you cry, you don't, you cry as an outburst of inner emotions.
Long ago, when I was on piano street I saw your name passing on a lot of topics, always pretty long stories you have to tell.
I closed the door behind piano street because of the many me against you debates, spoiling the subject.
Here I am again, how long, I don't know. But you are still here, not devoid of soul, but I think you are searching for your soul. Soulsearchers are very emotional, so I don't give you many chances of finding it. You only have to think about Schubert. If you can read him of course without.
It's all in the title, Music is ???, you don't know, but you want to know, because you feel there is something missing. It is simple, Music is emotion, written down in its harmonic language.
It tells us many things.
I'm not a native english speaker, so, some words don't come to me as I would like.
Next time, when you cry or laugh, ask yourself the question, is this purely rational, or do I feel something that goes much deeper, and have always denied.
Learn to go deeper. I must have missed your background then, but you need much more, before talking here like hell on piano street. Time you should better spend on what matters.
The image of thousands of children crying, for the death of their parents, in Africa, not emotional.
Get help Mayla.

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #34 on: March 02, 2014, 08:51:49 PM
mayla probably thinks of emotion in "different terms", so when shes saying she doesn't believe in "emotion", she is probably actually saying she doesn't believe in the standard concept of emotion. E.g. "emotion doesn't exist - only different levels of present experience do!" which is to say she does believe in emotion, but likes to dress it up differently so that she can be edgy and contrary and say that she doesnt believe in emotion.

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #35 on: March 02, 2014, 09:23:20 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline vladimir_gouldowsky

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #36 on: March 02, 2014, 09:28:56 PM
What are you talking about?

Offline Bob

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #37 on: March 02, 2014, 09:35:17 PM
What are you talking about?

Shh.  Don't ask.  You'll never figure it out.  Just enjoy the show.  The thread even got Ahinton dragged in.

Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline vladimir_gouldowsky

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #38 on: March 02, 2014, 09:35:49 PM
Haha OK. That .gif won me over.

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #39 on: March 02, 2014, 09:42:59 PM
It is true though, it is not that I don't think there is an experience we have which we can lable emotion, it is that I believe the idea of human emotion is grander than it seems, and that, yes, the word emotion and its associated meaning is limiting.
1. you spelled "label" incorrectly.
2. saying that the word "emotion" does not fit human experience is basically saying that the word was invented by aliens, who don't understand us and missed the mark with the word they intended to define our experience. it wasn't. it was invented by people, with the purpose of denoting a certain thing, and that thing is human experience. you can't say that "emotion" doesn't denote human experience, because that is what the word was obviously created for. you're implying the word came before the thing it describes, when it is the exact opposite. i think your definition of emotion is just wrong.
3. being iconoclastic is childish when what you're being contrary about exists only by warping ideas to fit your own notions.
4. pretty sure i was right on the money with my previous post

Offline vladimir_gouldowsky

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #40 on: March 02, 2014, 09:44:50 PM
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Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #41 on: March 02, 2014, 09:48:50 PM
I really am not trying to be rude, but I find that some of Mayla's posts remind me of Alan Sokal's article in "Social Text". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair
"it is becoming increasingly apparent that physical 'reality'" is fundamentally "a social and linguistic construct"
perfect

Offline Bob

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #42 on: March 02, 2014, 09:52:44 PM
I really am not trying to be rude, but I find that some of Mayla's posts remind me of Alan Sokal's article in "Social Text". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

Let's discuss over here...
https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=54563.0
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #43 on: March 02, 2014, 10:00:11 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline ignaceii

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #44 on: March 03, 2014, 10:00:13 AM
That was the reason, or 1 of them to leave this street. It is getting filled with junky talk by the minute.
Join a forum on Lacan freaks. A  master in inventing complicated things, and gets away with it.

Offline ahinton

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #45 on: March 03, 2014, 03:15:42 PM
I really am not trying to be rude, but I find that some of Mayla's posts remind me of Alan Sokal's article in "Social Text". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair
And for just one example of the illegitimate offspring of Sokal's work, what about the Postmodernism Generator? (see https://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/)...

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #46 on: March 03, 2014, 05:05:41 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline lateromantic

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #47 on: March 03, 2014, 08:23:47 PM
... You seem incredibly ignorant. Have you watched Leonard Bernstein's lectures on phonology, syntax and semantics? perhaps that may open your eyes.
I have a feeling that's going to remain The Unanswered Question. ;)

Offline ignaceii

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #48 on: March 03, 2014, 09:39:57 PM
I am struck to tears by the sincerity of this post.  Seriously.  I feel you probably swayed a bit when you typed it, and it really feels me with emoticons  :'( and now I simply must forsake all that is meaningful to me and to go about dumpeding my emoticons into some instrument.  Any instrument.  If only I could possibly know how to be a musical emoticon.  
Finally, I got you feeling emotions, that's a fact, and facts can't speak, so you have no possibility to believe or disbelieve in them. A bit of logic, nice hť.
So, yes, shed no tears. Take Lacan street to the right, at the end where the light shines, there it is where you must be.
Sincerely...

Offline Mayla

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Re: "Music is" ... here's my problem:
Reply #49 on: March 03, 2014, 09:47:29 PM
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
 

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