Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap

Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap
From: Richard Wentk (
Date: Thu Jul 01 2004 - 13:07:04 EDT

At 12:44 01/07/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>I'm afraid I don't agree that intention counts for much. A TOTALLY deaf
>person (no bone conduction or vibration senses, even) could intend to
>create music -- whatever it was, it would be essentially random. Not noise,
>but random. No connection to the intention. Is that music? I don't think so.

I suspect you'd find if they got up on a stage and did it in front of a
hall full of people, they'd all applaud anyway.

They might not immediately rush out and buy the CD in the interval though. ;)

So in what sense would it not be music? If you allow the example, you can
also allow that a deaf person could study theory and write a fugue. Would
that not be music either just because they couldn't hear it? (qv Beethoven)

What you really seem to be saying is that random noodling isn't music just
because it's random, and the fact that the performer can't hear the results
guarantees randomness. This seems unconvincing when a lot of late twencen
music relied heavily on deliberate randomness, which the composer often
couldn't hear immediately either.

>So as far as I'm concerned that has to be some objective correlative to the
>musical intention, and it has to be audible to (educated, anyway) listeners
>regardless of whether they know the intention or not.
>In other words, music is a certain sort of sound object. Just like a
>painting is a certain sort of paint object.

Ugh. Stop now. Please.

This is reminding me of amateur art, which seems to consist entirely of
poppies, pets, pretty harbours and (in the UK) country churches.

>This is not an easy subject to debate because we can all be fooled. The
>situation is analagous to the Turing test. A program might fool some
>people, some of the time, into thinking it was a conscious, intelligent
>person even when it most obviously was not. Similarly, some noises might
>fool some people, some of the time, into thinking they are music.
>But I think if you listen long enough, and learn enough, and ask for more
>music from the same source, it becomes clear after a while.

Not so. That's exactly the point. The goal posts keep moving, and it'll be
a sad day if they ever stop. Music isn't like software. You can't write a
functional definition, implement it and then check iteratively for
compliance. You can create instantiations of certain functional
definitions, and a lot of people seem to believe that's what making music
is about, in the same that many people believe that being able to draw is
what art is about. Superficially, that's true to a fair approximation. Less
superficially, it's not true at all.

Incidentally, you still don't seem to be getting the point about social
context and ritual.


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