Re: Aural Training

Subject: Re: Aural Training
From: Kevin Austin (
Date: Sun Aug 21 2005 - 23:48:38 EDT

Hmmm ... I don't think there is such a thing as an "auditory object"
independent of perception and context. If the object only exists
through the perception and interpretation, then it could be
understood that 'the object' (itself) doesn't exist, only an
individual's (re)creation of the 'object / concept'.

I don't think that 'music' offers anything, and even less so anything
'obvious'. I would propose that it is the way which the mind
structures the stimulus rather than the stimulus itself. It is my
understanding, partly from Eliot, that the brain has no way of
knowing the 'source' of the stimulus.

There was an article by Oliver Sachs on how the blind "see" (New
Yorker about July 2003?) and the proposition that areas of the brain
can be reallocated to different functions if they are not used (eg
visual cortex areas are taken over by sound, tactile etc.

The "theme" is for me a 'higher level' concept, and is both an object
in the specific instance, and a process if the general sense. For
example an examination of western music from (say) 1650 to 1900 and
beyond reveals a group of musical ideas that in a general sense allow
for certain processes, including repetition, 'variation', distortions
and fragmentations etc etc, and that a large percentage of the pieces
from the concert literature of this period will show one or many of
these attributes. Specific cases may show various levels and amounts.

A cursory examination of Handel tends to show little 'thematic
process' compared to (say) JS Bach, but this could be because the
nature and 'depth' of the processes in Handel are more subtle and
"deeper", not having so much surface recognizability.

(An examination of the Minuet [fifth movement] from the Water Music
will reveal the pervasive influence of the three-note ascending scale
pattern. This could be one of the reasons that Handel was Beethoven's
favorite composer.)

Identity cannot be separated from 'object', and 'process'. The
proposed example of the violin glissando, in my view, cannot be dealt
without its context. A glissando could be a simple portamento of the
Philadelphia Orchestra playing Chaikovsky under Stokowski in 1931
(where it is a stylistic, ornamental process), or it could be from an
orchestral (or chamber) work by Xenakis, where it may be a
fundamental element with an irreducible identity.

The glissando could be a set of 128 oscillators descending over a
range of about 4 octaves in 40 minutes. The glissando is the process,
and the object. [SUN].

Aural training here is the training of the mind.



At 01:27 -0700 2005/08/20, Eliot Handelman wrote:
>Kevin Austin wrote:
>>PS I have found Pierre Schaffer's conception of sound to be of
>>minimal use in extended study -- a good quick introduction but not
>>a solid basis for refined aural development.
>I confess I never read it but nowadays the concept of the "auditory
>object" is all the rage and Schaffer may or may not be useful in
>that regard. The question posed is, "what is an auditory object,?"
>Music clearly offers obvious examples, eg, "the theme." Is process
>an object? I think no -- we understand process as being applied to
>something, namely the object whose identity remains constant. Is a
>violin glissando an object or a process? I think we understand it as
>"something rising," and the something, which is perhaps not
>nameable, is the object.
>a thought.
>-- eliot

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