Happy New Year! The January Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species. Discuss it now.

The February Philosophy Book of the Month is The Fourth Age by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG.)

Comparing aesthetics in music experience

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.
User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2070
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Hereandnow » February 3rd, 2016, 1:07 pm

Been thinking about music and aesthetic judgment of taste. I cannot see that when assessing music and defending (objective?) claims about one being better than another, Beethoven better than pop or rap, for example, how it can be done by any reference to, say, admiration for the work, how intellectually complex its composition might be, or even how novel or creative it is (though novelty does deliver us from repetition). The best we can do is refer directly to the aesthetic value itself.

But how can this be done, given that taste cannot be compared for there is no standard of measurement that we have that can do this? Sure, there are certain very apparent and measurable features a piece of music has, but these do not actually constitute the aesthetic. The aesthetic is a phenomenon that is sui generis, and unlike much visual art, carries very little, if any at all, cognitive, and therefore cognitively measurable, meaning. (Music can be onomatopoeic, like the sound of sleigh bells or a crack of a whip; but then, these are intended to step outside of the music into representation, which is inherently amusical.)

My thoughts are that we can compare music, musical types, classifications and their general characteristics. We can do this simply: by doing a comparative evaluation of different intuited aesthetics. In a thumbnail: Loreena McKinnet (whom I worship and upon death should be made a saint) evokes an aesthetic response that is INTRINSICALLY superior to other competitors that are, perhaps, more abrasive, more visceral.

How does one know if one has an inherently superior experience? You must be acquainted with its competitors. You must know both in any given comparison between two and the proof is in the pudding.

User avatar
Aristocles
Contributor
Posts: 478
Joined: April 20th, 2015, 8:15 am

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Aristocles » February 3rd, 2016, 1:38 pm

Sometimes the things hardest to measure are the most important for which to aspire to appreciate, & are best appreciated in our failure to adequately quantify. Nevertheless, the cummulation of byproducts seem best to not go unnoticed, and with these we better quantify the aesthetic.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2070
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Hereandnow » February 3rd, 2016, 3:04 pm

But what if one were to say, certain music is simply better than others? This is, of course, anathema in a context of politically correct discourse on art. Those who swear by hard rock of rap, those who are so deeply into a particular aesthetic would, and should, take umbrage int he worst possible way. How do defend one aesthetic over another? It's like defending a feeling, an emotion. Are emotions divided into the best and the worst? Is it somehow an inferior experience, say, the thrill of extreme sports compared to that of reading Emily Dickinson? Art speaking generally, possesses differences like this.

i will go this far: Notwithstanding that so-called spiritual experiences have this annoying metaphysics under their belt, there is such a thing, unarguably I will say, as a sublime, suggestive aesthetic, a kind of open-ended stillness that you could call spiritual. I'm going to make a case against the egalitarianism that, in the attempt to be inclusive and nonjudgmental, fails to entertain the obvious: rap, rock, jazz, pop are mostly significant forms that produce a coarser, more primitive aesthetic rapture.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7611
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Greta » February 3rd, 2016, 9:21 pm

Different musics will cater to different generational tastes (how many of us listen to the Wiggles or Rebecca Black without coercion from a young person?). Music for kids, teens, and the various phases of adulthood.

Different musics will also cater to different classes - simple, rousing and rootsy music for the working class and more fluent, sophisticated and refined performances for the middle and upper classes. This segregation was clear in the classical era but was blurred by especially talented jazz and rock artists who started out playing music for the people but subsequently developed strong creative inclinations. Louis Armstrong was arguably the leader of this trend.

There is ultimately only one valid division between "good music" and "bad music" - music made with passion, sincerity and love versus music largely made with economic and egotistical agendas in mind. Is the artist's angle primarily one of expressing or impressing?

Music is communication and, as with public speaking, there are clear differences in quality. Consider a passionate and heartfelt speech full of pauses and other disfluencies with the slick, professional speeches of experienced politicians sprouting evasive platitudes. Most would agree on the division between "good speech" and "bad speech" in this context. On the other hand, a politician's chances of success are helped by superior speech tone and cadences.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated—Gandhi.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2070
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Hereandnow » February 4th, 2016, 4:13 pm

Greta:
Different musics will cater to different generational tastes (how many of us listen to the Wiggles or Rebecca Black without coercion from a young person?). Music for kids, teens, and the various phases of adulthood.
Granted, though I would add as an aside that there is remarkable survival in what is produced today of what was they were doing in the 60's and even the 50's. I remember not at all finding what was musically popular in the 30's and 40's to be relevant or even accessible. But now, the Adele's and Lana del Rey's amd many others are strangely familiar, it's as if I've heard it all before, but produced in a less sophisticated studio.
There is ultimately only one valid division between "good music" and "bad music" - music made with passion, sincerity and love versus music largely made with economic and egotistical agendas in mind. Is the artist's angle primarily one of expressing or impressing?
You look to the artist, but what this reduces to is a standard of aesthetic that recognizes certain audible features. It's these that I would look to, to make the strong claim that one is better than another: what are the overt, intuitive, aesthetic properties and can we make a meaningful comparison? The sincerity and passion are built into the form (keeping in mind that there are many very beautiful compositions that do not possess these) and while tastes and musical ideas change, aesthetic accessibility changes as well. To be fit to judge, one must have access. This is a given. But once one "knows," and one has, as Mill put it, knowledge of both (or several, all whatever), then one can determine relative value.

I'm saying, such knowledge yield a preference of one over the other because one is in fact better. That is, certain musical experiences are better than their, if you will, competitors.
Music is communication and, as with public speaking, there are clear differences in quality. Consider a passionate and heartfelt speech full of pauses and other disfluencies with the slick, professional speeches of experienced politicians sprouting evasive platitudes. Most would agree on the division between "good speech" and "bad speech" in this context. On the other hand, a politician's chances of success are helped by superior speech tone and cadences.
No doubt a lot of this is true. I would add that the qualities you have that intuitive "feel" for are objective qualities you can discuss, defend, argue. Bernie Sanders has that sincere avuncular tone and manner that Hillary lacks, one could reasonably argue. When we do this with music we are usually working within a set of assumptions that tells us how talk about quality. But I'm looking beneath this at the nature of the aesthetic itself, notwithstanding how well it's executed.

User avatar
LuckyR
Moderator
Posts: 3252
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 1:16 am

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by LuckyR » February 4th, 2016, 11:57 pm

Interesting thread. To my mind, music has two common "appreciations": one, is the typical appreciation (that everyone has), this is usually based on whatever one appreciated when they graduated from high school. Thus, I'm in my fifties and I can appreciate late 70's music like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. True, I enjoy music from the 50's (oldies), the 60's (grade school years), the 80's (college years), but I get very selective starting with the 90's. Most of what I like in 90's/00's and 10's are either throwbacks or new material from older artists.

The other music "appreciation" is, of course, Academic appreciation. This (supposedly) transcends taste and goes to the "objective" evaluation of the music. IMO, this is inherantly quite limited since in my opinion, the majority of music's appeal is it's ability to conjure emotions and most of these emotions are NOT de novo, but are rather memories... often from youth and young adulthood. Hence my original premise.
"As usual... it depends."

User avatar
Aristocles
Contributor
Posts: 478
Joined: April 20th, 2015, 8:15 am

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Aristocles » February 5th, 2016, 12:19 am

I agree in the generational preference and even in its micro evolution, noting generations alter preference and widen appreciation as appetites widen, etc.

I agree the beauty is in the expression, as communication is a fundamental way we express and appreciate our emotional capacity to reason. With words falling short, music can fill some gaps of communication.

I also agree in the Pythagorean view of there being a more seeming objective archetype in musical sound. This I would compare to modern linguists noting mathematical type patterns among human language.

The closer we get to appreciating the more human aspects of reasoning/emotions the more we connect with the world, etc - the greater the consequent beauty.

User avatar
Scribbler60
Posts: 177
Joined: December 17th, 2015, 11:48 am

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Scribbler60 » February 5th, 2016, 10:44 am

LuckyR wrote:Interesting thread. To my mind, music has two common "appreciations": one, is the typical appreciation (that everyone has), this is usually based on whatever one appreciated when they graduated from high school. Thus, I'm in my fifties and I can appreciate late 70's music like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. True, I enjoy music from the 50's (oldies), the 60's (grade school years), the 80's (college years), but I get very selective starting with the 90's. Most of what I like in 90's/00's and 10's are either throwbacks or new material from older artists.

The other music "appreciation" is, of course, Academic appreciation. This (supposedly) transcends taste and goes to the "objective" evaluation of the music. IMO, this is inherantly quite limited since in my opinion, the majority of music's appeal is it's ability to conjure emotions and most of these emotions are NOT de novo, but are rather memories... often from youth and young adulthood. Hence my original premise.
Interesting premise.

Seems I'm about the same age as you.

My musical tastes in high school were somewhat different from the norm. When everyone else was shaking their booty to Gloria Gaynor, KC and the Sunshine Band and Donna Summer, I (and a few other geek types) were pondering existence to the soundtrack of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Rush, Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis and other prog legends.

Why me and my friends - all musicians, by the way - gravitated to prog when the rest of the world seemed to be going all Bee Gees is a mystery.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2070
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Hereandnow » February 5th, 2016, 11:35 am

You know, here is an interesting bit of speculation: One of the claims of post modern thinking is that in art, we have come to an end of novelty and we have for some time resorted to repeating history. You see this in postmodern architecture that incorporates old themes into the new in an attempt go beyond the geometry of glass and steel. It's all been done and we are, if you will, waiting for Godot to show up, but nothing new has shown up, and we rehash, recontextualize and restructure in an attempt to reinvent, but, while it certainly has not been in vane and so much of what is new is really good, it is not truly original. For we have exhausted what is possible. In the visual arts, the turn toward the conceptual shows just how, pardon the expression, bankrupt our imagination has become. And note how television has become so extreme and off the wall int he attempt to entertain,as if our capacity to entertained has reached its limit and looks to the inane not so much for its entertainment value but simply for its difference: anything but the same old whatever, over and over.

Have we been there and done that to the point where true creativity has no meaning?

User avatar
3uGH7D4MLj
Posts: 933
Joined: January 4th, 2013, 3:39 pm

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » February 7th, 2016, 9:35 am

Hereandnow wrote:Been thinking about music and aesthetic judgment of taste. I cannot see that when assessing music and defending (objective?) claims about one being better than another, Beethoven better than pop or rap, for example, how it can be done by any reference to, say, admiration for the work, how intellectually complex its composition might be, or even how novel or creative it is (though novelty does deliver us from repetition). The best we can do is refer directly to the aesthetic value itself.
What is "aesthetic value"?
Hereandnow wrote:But how can this be done, given that taste cannot be compared for there is no standard of measurement that we have that can do this? Sure, there are certain very apparent and measurable features a piece of music has, but these do not actually constitute the aesthetic. The aesthetic is a phenomenon that is sui generis, and unlike much visual art, carries very little, if any at all, cognitive, and therefore cognitively measurable, meaning.
Music appreciation is cognitive -- non-verbal, but cognitive. The idea of carrying meaning -- do you mean literary meaning, language? Are you approaching music with the idea that only those things which can be written down are cognitive, have meaning? are you equating meaning with statements?

I've thought about this subject myself. There are all these musical genres, some I like, some not so much, am I missing something? I go to a classical music event every once in a while to hear some European music. The concert hall is full! All these people must be getting something out of this stuff. I can't do much with it myself.

I have always liked Stravinsky's Rite though. I try to hear it every spring.
fair to say

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2070
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Hereandnow » February 7th, 2016, 1:47 pm

3uGH7D4MLj:
What is "aesthetic value"?

Maybe I should get out my hedonic calculator. Jeremy Bentham thought one could actually measure how good a thing was, and that this measurement could be quantified in a way that allowed for values of things, ordinary pleasures, common indulgences, to be compared and ranked.

I don't think it is too far fetched. After all, some things are easy: I'd certainly rank a fond listening to Debussy higher than playing with my cat. But even as I say this, I see the problem. When i am really into playing with my cat and she just goes crazy and it's just great, it is true that Debussy is better? Isn't this an apples and oranges affair?

Anyway, I'm of track. An aesthetic value is the joy, the aesthetic rapture,as Clive Bell put it, considered apart from other possible qualities of appreciation. for example, if I am enjoying a Van Gogh and the comment is made about his brushwork, i would say that while such commentary is certainly interesting, it is incidental to the aesthetic experience. Only aesthetic vocabulary would do, and this would go to form and feeling.
Music appreciation is cognitive -- non-verbal, but cognitive. The idea of carrying meaning -- do you mean literary meaning, language? Are you approaching music with the idea that only those things which can be written down are cognitive, have meaning? are you equating meaning with statements?

I've thought about this subject myself. There are all these musical genres, some I like, some not so much, am I missing something? I go to a classical music event every once in a while to hear some European music. The concert hall is full! All these people must be getting something out of this stuff. I can't do much with it myself.

I have always liked Stravinsky's Rite though. I try to hear it every spring.
Interesting, if a little puzzling. I can never deliver experience from cognition because it's just not possible to have a perceiving agent without some cognitive structure in the background to ground meaning of any kind. An agent qua agent is cognitive. So yes, music appreciation is surely cognitive, implicitly so,even as one simply listens.

But when the focus is on the other end of the experience, the thrill, joy, charm, melancholy, nostalgia, and so forth; here is the aesthetic. Music is much less cognitive than visual art. Listen to a phrase and words do not assert themselves as being the meaning behind the sounds, as is the case with, say, Matisse's Green Line, in which woman, room, window and all represented. A musical phrase doesn't represent (though it can in the case of onomatopoeia). Music has no real concept within the aesthetic itself. Certainly, there are concepts we use to talk about it, but the experience itself, the rapture of it, contains no meaningful conceptual counterpart.

Ever sit and listen Mahler's first symphony? One does have to be still, contemplative, even. This kind of music requires mood and quiet. If you have a mind, here it is:

Jutfrank
Posts: 81
Joined: January 8th, 2016, 10:50 pm

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Jutfrank » February 7th, 2016, 3:27 pm

Wow! Amazing coincidence that you would post Mahler's 1st -- I was listening to that exact same Youtube video yesterday.

I really have to make a distinction between art and aesthetics. For me, aesthetics is about taste. Like with food, why does somebody love the taste of something when somebody else thinks it's horrid? It's a reactive, physical response. There's not much discussion to be had.

I think it's true that music is about taste, about aesthetics, but not a lot. It's more often to do with art.

Sometimes we like ugly art, whether that's a sculpture, a painting, music, whatever form. It's ugly on purpose. What makes us like it is largely the meaning we get from it, regardless of how it tastes. Design is about aesthetics, art about meaning.

This also explains why music is often so generationally divisive. The kids say their parents just don't understand, and the parents say the same - they're in different worlds. It also shows how we use this meaning to construct our identity -- our musical preferences, often hand in hand with fashion (which is similar) indicate to others who we are (or who we want to be). They are signs.

Some people, though, find it easier to get meaning out of art than others, as exemplified in the world of contemporary art criticism.

So really, it's quite subjective but I think if there is a way to say that a piece of music (or any artwork), is objectively superior, (apart from an appreciation of technique), then it might be in how readily, or how gracefully the work gives up its meaning (Does that make sense?) as well as the meaning itself.

User avatar
3uGH7D4MLj
Posts: 933
Joined: January 4th, 2013, 3:39 pm

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » February 7th, 2016, 5:05 pm

Hereandnow wrote:Music is much less cognitive than visual art. Listen to a phrase and words do not assert themselves as being the meaning behind the sounds, as is the case with, say, Matisse's Green Line, in which woman, room, window and all represented. A musical phrase doesn't represent (though it can in the case of onomatopoeia). Music has no real concept within the aesthetic itself. Certainly, there are concepts we use to talk about it, but the experience itself, the rapture of it, contains no meaningful conceptual counterpart.
This is maybe a sidepoint but you're confusing language with cognition. Art, music, forget language. Have the non-verbal cognitive experience. You and Clive are looking for rapture, you don't need words for rapture.

-- Updated February 7th, 2016, 4:08 pm to add the following --
Hereandnow wrote:3uGH7D4MLj: I'd certainly rank a fond listening to Debussy higher than playing with my cat. But even as I say this, I see the problem. When i am really into playing with my cat and she just goes crazy and it's just great, it is true that Debussy is better? Isn't this an apples and oranges affair?
You can rank it for yourself, but is it possible to generalize?

-- Updated February 7th, 2016, 4:15 pm to add the following --
Hereandnow wrote:Certainly, there are concepts we use to talk about it, but the experience itself, the rapture of it, contains no meaningful conceptual counterpart.
So the composer, the conductor, the musicians, listeners, aren't conceptualizing? these activities aren't cognitive? they have no meaning? It's music for gods sake, it's a reason for living. How can you say that?

-- Updated February 7th, 2016, 5:19 pm to add the following --
Hereandnow wrote:But what if one were to say, certain music is simply better than others? This is, of course, anathema in a context of politically correct discourse on art. Those who swear by hard rock of rap, those who are so deeply into a particular aesthetic would, and should, take umbrage int he worst possible way. How do defend one aesthetic over another? It's like defending a feeling, an emotion. Are emotions divided into the best and the worst? Is it somehow an inferior experience, say, the thrill of extreme sports compared to that of reading Emily Dickinson? Art speaking generally, possesses differences like this.

i will go this far: Notwithstanding that so-called spiritual experiences have this annoying metaphysics under their belt, there is such a thing, unarguably I will say, as a sublime, suggestive aesthetic, a kind of open-ended stillness that you could call spiritual. I'm going to make a case against the egalitarianism that, in the attempt to be inclusive and nonjudgmental, fails to entertain the obvious: rap, rock, jazz, pop are mostly significant forms that produce a coarser, more primitive aesthetic rapture.
Music is a big tent. In theatre we don't compare Cats to Becket. Dance music is dance music, how well does it work? How great a dance tune is this? Classical music is in a different category. It's fun to consider favorites and evaluate, judge compar-able works. But if you compare genres, it's like you say, apples and oranges.

-- Updated February 7th, 2016, 5:37 pm to add the following --
Jutfrank wrote:So really, it's quite subjective but I think if there is a way to say that a piece of music (or any artwork), is objectively superior, (apart from an appreciation of technique), then it might be in how readily, or how gracefully the work gives up its meaning (Does that make sense?) as well as the meaning itself.
Yes, I can't go so far as to say objectively superior either. Who am I to say?

But a jolt of appreciation may come from how intriguing a work is, which may mean a work doesn't give up its meaning so readily. I like poet Robert Kelly's insistence that the meaning or sense of the poem is that something is happening to you as you read.

-- Updated February 7th, 2016, 5:46 pm to add the following --
Greta wrote:There is ultimately only one valid division between "good music" and "bad music" - music made with passion, sincerity and love versus music largely made with economic and egotistical agendas in mind. Is the artist's angle primarily one of expressing or impressing?
Well, I don't know. Is sincerity all it takes? Ellington worked for money, he said he would never have finished anything without a deadline. I think the Art / commerce dichotomy is useful but not ultimate.
fair to say

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 2070
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by Hereandnow » February 7th, 2016, 9:15 pm

Jutfrank:

I really have to make a distinction between art and aesthetics. For me, aesthetics is about taste. Like with food, why does somebody love the taste of something when somebody else thinks it's horrid? It's a reactive, physical response. There's not much discussion to be had.
Exactly, not much you can say. That leaves the matter up to the aesthetic values themselves. It's how you feel when you listen to Mahler as opposed to how you feel when you listen to another musical aesthetic, like rock. i find that Mahler wins, for the experience is more sublime, more evocative. Rock seems shallow in comparison, powerful, granted, but visceral and self contained, more like an appetite than an emotion.

-- Updated February 7th, 2016, 10:08 pm to add the following --
Jutfrank:

I really have to make a distinction between art and aesthetics. For me, aesthetics is about taste. Like with food, why does somebody love the taste of something when somebody else thinks it's horrid? It's a reactive, physical response. There's not much discussion to be had.
Exactly, not much you can say. That leaves the matter up to the aesthetic values themselves. It's how you feel when you listen to Mahler as opposed to how you feel when you listen to another musical aesthetic, like rock. i find that Mahler wins, for the experience is more sublime, more evocative. Rock seems shallow in comparison, powerful, granted, but visceral and self contained, more like an appetite than an emotion.

-- Updated February 7th, 2016, 10:07 pm to add the following --
3uGH7D4MLj:
This is maybe a sidepoint but you're confusing language with cognition. Art, music, forget language. Have the non-verbal cognitive experience. You and Clive are looking for rapture, you don't need words for rapture.
Not a side point at all. Language here is used in a strict way, i suppose. Language is a rule governed system of meaning making, and the rules it uses are grammatical ones. Grammar IS cognition; that is, grammatical rules are grounded in logic. Of course, languages are different in their arbitrary features such as preposition formation, subject/object arrangement, and so forth. But all grammar is grounded in logic and adheres to logical rules: hypotheticals, contradictions, tautologies, disjunctions, and so forth.

Nonverbal, cognitive? i don't understand this. Of course, you don't have to verbalize, but meaningful verbalization is inherently cognitive. That's what it means for something to make sense.
You can rank it for yourself, but is it possible to generalize?
But if you know both and you are aware of the distinct and clear aesthetic and you like them both, can't you make a reasonable comparison?
So the composer, the conductor, the musicians, listeners, aren't conceptualizing? these activities aren't cognitive? they have no meaning? It's music for gods sake, it's a reason for living. How can you say that?
They have no meaning when you are in the concert hall and you've got Brahms' second piano concerto and you're in that terrific second movement where the block chords are so powerful. This is the aesthetic as such, and you don't even have know what a piano is to apprehend and appreciate it. When you're dancing and the rhythm takes you away, no, the concepts, the discussion or interpretation caries little if any relevant meaning.
Perhaps you have some understanding the word 'conceptualize' that is not clear to me. It does entail language and logic, concepts and their meaningful conjunction in propositions.

User avatar
3uGH7D4MLj
Posts: 933
Joined: January 4th, 2013, 3:39 pm

Re: Comparing aesthetics in music experience

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » February 8th, 2016, 3:06 am

Hereandnow wrote:Not a side point at all. Language here is used in a strict way, i suppose. Language is a rule governed system of meaning making, and the rules it uses are grammatical ones. Grammar IS cognition; that is, grammatical rules are grounded in logic. Of course, languages are different in their arbitrary features such as preposition formation, subject/object arrangement, and so forth. But all grammar is grounded in logic and adheres to logical rules: hypotheticals, contradictions, tautologies, disjunctions, and so forth.

Nonverbal, cognitive? i don't understand this. Of course, you don't have to verbalize, but meaningful verbalization is inherently cognitive. That's what it means for something to make sense.
Hereandnow, your life is big, your experiences, emotions, sensations, data is pouring in from all directions constantly and it contains lots of meaning. This includes when you listen to music or look at art.

The bit of experience that you are able to put into language is tenuous and cramped. Language is a coding system used to communicate, it's a narrow channel. It doesn't determine meaning. Grammar isn't cognition. Steven Pinker is good on this, also Noam Chomsky. You walk in a cathedral of sensations, your experience is vast, language is attenuated, it's an approximation, a rough outline of the full fabulous glory of our lives.

-- Updated February 8th, 2016, 2:10 am to add the following --
Hereandnow wrote:
You can rank it for yourself, but is it possible to generalize?
But if you know both and you are aware of the distinct and clear aesthetic and you like them both, can't you make a reasonable comparison?
Yes, for yourself, but not in general. You can't assign objective value that would apply to others. I'm just asking the same question that you ask in the OP.

-- Updated February 8th, 2016, 2:17 am to add the following --
Hereandnow wrote:Exactly, not much you can say. That leaves the matter up to the aesthetic values themselves. It's how you feel when you listen to Mahler as opposed to how you feel when you listen to another musical aesthetic, like rock. i find that Mahler wins, for the experience is more sublime, more evocative. Rock seems shallow in comparison, powerful, granted, but visceral and self contained, more like an appetite than an emotion.
Be careful, someone may think that you are trying to justify snobbery.

It's also amusing to hear an orchestra try to keep up with a hot combo of any kind. Like the Boston pops lumbering along after a bluegrass band. Arthur Fiedler with Dave Brubeck... hilarious.
fair to say

Post Reply