Is art and music dying?

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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Present awareness
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Re: Is art and music dying?

Post by Present awareness » August 2nd, 2015, 10:20 pm

Good choice Greta, choosing a very expressive guitarist to make your point.

Music begins in the womb, with the rhythm of our mothers heart. Melody is the natural extension of rhythm, which we hear in bird song or in our mothers voice. If you have ever tried to speak in a strictly monotone voice, you soon realize how important melody is, and how much meaning is conveyed just by the rising and falling of the voice in language.

A musical riff, may often relate to a verbal phrase. For example, the famous motif of Beethoven's 5th symphony, ba,ba,ba, baaaa, three short notes the same pitch followed by one long note at a lower pitch. A verbal phrase that one could say in a similar way might be, "I won't be home" or " you think I care". The higher pitch phrase could be thought of as the female voice and the lower one as the male. Thus the conversation "I won't be home" "you think I care" " I won't be home" " you think I care".

Is art and music dying? No! Art and music is in the eye of the beholder and the ear of the listener. It may die for you personally, but not for everyone.
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Alec Smart
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Re: Is art and music dying?

Post by Alec Smart » August 3rd, 2015, 5:37 pm

Greta wrote: I wonder how Jeff Beck might express verbally or in writing what he expresses on guitar here and if it would have the same effect?
I saw Jeff Beck two or three years back at Sheffield City Hall and it was one of the best gigs I've ever been to, that track was part of his set. His bass player was pretty impressive, as well, a girl called Tal Wilkenfeld, I think she's Australian.
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Greta
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Re: Is art and music dying?

Post by Greta » August 3rd, 2015, 7:50 pm

I agree, PA, although I think that not only the nature of art and music changing, so is its place in society.

As mentioned earlier, John Cage heard music was in accidental ambient sound, not just the sounds we purpose build for pleasure. Melody and harmony in music seemed to reached a peak during the classical periods, a time when rhythmic elements and noise elements were at their weakest. During that period the purists considered untuned percussion to be unmusical noise. Based on my scant readings, The arch purists of the time considered untuned percussion to a base emotional effect used by the primitives they conquered and by lazy composers to build intensity. They would have claimed that dynamics, attack, release and melodic and harmonic tension would be sufficient to convey the message. History is replete with older generations decrying the younger generation's "noise" - the increased emphasis on rhythm and noise and reduced melodic and harmonic sophisticated.

Artistic movements obviously reflect the times. The classical period was marked by colonialism. The Europeans were disturbed by what they perceived as animal-like characteristics of indigenous people and they tried to draw a line between themselves and the native people of the lands they invaded. They believed man to be divine, and the "airy fairy" and ethereal nature of the music reflected a lack of groundedness, a groundedness that it seems successive generations have been trying to recapture for centuries. The colonialists should have listened to the indigenes when they spoke of the human relationship with the environment. We've been paying the price for our ancestors' lack of curiosity and humility ever since.

Today I find myself to be just another elderly tut-tutter, disappointed at the weak melodies and harmonies and the lack of dynamics in a lot of modern music. Music and visual art appear to be gradually disappearing in their own right, instead becoming just a background for everyday life and stories. We live in a hyper-competitive "busy brain" time and fewer people have the patience to just listen to music in its own right without it supporting another activity. Rather than dying, visceral art seems to be being subsumed by narrative art. Material reality is being converted to information. Cultural entropy?

An example, opera was largely about the music with weak narratives that created a spectacle and supported the piece. Compare with video clips from rap or old school punk artists, which are tend to be entirely about the story, with the music a slapdash placeholder. The music is often deliberately with little skill or creativity, equating accomplishment with showing off; anti-art.

You raise an important point about the rhythmic basis to existence - human heartbeats 60-100bpm, breathing 12-20bpm, blood circulation 1bpm, a lifespan 60-90yrs, Earth rotation 24hrs and orbit 365.25 days etc. It would seem that this flight to rhythm and narrative is a flight to groundedness - back from the angels and cherubs of the romantic era to the sweat and grime of the primal body.

Harb ... er, Alec (I still miss Alfred E) no doubt it was a quality gig. Tal is a prodigy. The legendary Vinnie Coliauta would have been on drums, I expect - and there was probably some poor downtrodden shmuck of keyboardist hidden in the shadows who nobody cares about, and whose job is to support the virtuoso trio:)
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