Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap

Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap
From: Michael Gogins (
Date: Thu Jul 01 2004 - 20:42:29 EDT

Music is a subjective phenomenon -- just like consciousness. That doesn't
mean it doesn't exist -- it does as surely as consciousness does.

As far as we know, and this has become an integral part of the scientific
world-view, there's no consciousness without a functioning brain. That
doesn't mean that consciousness _is_ the functioning brain -- the
functioning brain, rather obviously, is not the color red or any of the
other qualities of which are conscious, such as timbre or, for the matter,
the beauty or harshness of music.

Although consciousness is a purely subjective phenomenon, it has an
objective existence. It really exists. It's not a "seeming." Without
consciousness we do not evaluate alternatives, formulate plans, or make
decisions. Nor do we create.

Similarly, music really exists. It's a purely subjective phenomenon, like
consciousness, that wouldn't exist without a supporting object, namely its
sound. But it really exists. It's not a "seeming." This is proved by the
fact that people can appreciate music without context or, perhaps more
precisely, they can learn on their own to provide the context. Somebody
invented the stuff ages ago, after all. First there wasn't any music,
therefore there wasn't any context for it, and then there was music. Music
created the context for music -- not the other way round. No doubt this was
a gradual evolutionary process that perhaps began even before language in
the hootings and thunder-struck dances of our simian ancestry.

Just as the physical form and function of the brain conditions
consciousness, so the physical form and function of the sound conditions the
music. Surely this is obvious? No music without sound?

What I am particularly interested in is this music that is conditioned by
the sound object, and not by cultural context. It's this that causes music
to endure across ages and cultures and to be valued and even revered.

Indeed, I fail to see how a person from one culture could learn to
appreciate the music of another culture if there were not something
universal in music as such. Otherwise, "appreciation" would be pure
predatory assimilation, stealing really, without the appropriator ever
entering into the subjectivity of the music of the other.

I'm not sure exactly what you object to in this picture -- could you

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Wentk" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, July 01, 2004 4:44 PM
Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap

> At 16:17 01/07/2004 -0400, you wrote:
> >Similarly, I am not saying that expectation and context don't color our
> >hearing of the object. They surely do. I am just saying that in the end
> >there is no music in the sound object as such, then there is no music.
> Isn't that a circular definition though? You seem to be saying that if
> sound is music, then it's music.
> In any case - I think you're underestimating the extent to which
> acculturation defines musical experience.
> What's possibly more interesting is when acculturation somehow creates
> *new* musical experience.
> >I do get the point about ritual -- I simply don't care for it. What I
> >is music that means something regardless of the ritual or lack thereof.
> >This doesn't mean that I hate the ritual, I love it. But I don't
> >trust it.
> I don't see how you can separate it from musical experience.
> You have to remember most the ritual is unconscious. It's not like you sit
> there thinking 'Okay, I'm taking part in a ritual now.' A lot of the more
> cliched actions that surround music - from those moody artist photos, to
> sitting still at a concert, or dancing around if it's a different kind of
> concert - are so familiar and reliable ritual seems like the best word for
> them.
> >Again, I'm just trying to be critical about my own context. I'm trying to
> >transcend myself. Perhaps you don't think that's possible.
> I have no idea.
> Meanwhile this, which is tangentially relevant:
> Richard

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