Re: CIMESP-Results Fwd:

Subject: Re: CIMESP-Results Fwd:
From: Eliot Handelman (
Date: Fri Nov 04 2005 - 18:15:42 EST

Ian Chuprun wrote:

> Eliot Handelman wrote:
>> I've recently been playing around with an idea I call
> > "structural favoritism." This means the kind of listening
>> where you "wait for the good parts." This used to be
> > considered a very low-class way to listen to classical music.
> I think you might be on to something here, but its not necessarily
> restricted to a musical experience.

Of course not.

> In art school I had many profs, painting/drawing/printmaking, who
> would point to a work (student or pro) and say that they thought a
> particular section of it was 'good', but isolating that section alone,
> without the bad parts, it would no longer be 'good'. It seemed the
> good stuff needed to be imbedded in 'other' stuff. I guess a good
> piece is one where the bad parts make the listener suffer just long
> enough to appreciate the good parts;-)

Ok. I'm proposing my idea as an alternative to the theory that says
"when we listen to music we hear its form -- ABA,"
from which we conclude that "the cognitive map of a piece closely
follows its form." I say this is false --
the map closely follows the order in which we like what we hear. There's
no ABA in the mind
(even if the music is laid out like that) but rather a BA1A2 if we
happened to like what happened in B.

This is part of my projections about a "qualitative" theory of what
music does.

So the theortical problem is to figure out the "real" forms (or as I
call them, "popular shapes") that are actually
used in any music -- ie, the forms that plausibly match a listener's
cognitive map.

For instance, one popular (rough) shape is "climax near the end."
Assuming the listener found that to be the
best bit, then his map starts from that point, rather than at the
beginning of the piece. Eg, it's the
first thing he remembers when someone mentions the piece. If so this
makes for good economy,
because now he must listen to the WHOLE piece to recreate the
representation. "Climx near the
end" shapes the WHOLE piece, even if you remember nothing else. You can
still say "wow -- I liked
that piece!" though you really only remember 2% of the whole.

There are some devious ways to try to figure this out, involving
computer modelling, but I won't go into that here.\
Suffice to say that one has to ease out popular shapes by assuming that
if they occur frequently, they
must be popular -- people must like them. These are not like patterns of
pitches but more like specific

So it;s quite clear that there are very many popular shapes in EA,
suggesting that the theory of listening being
applied IS like what I'm calling "structural favoritism."

For a new experimental art, I don;t think this is a good thing, as it
tends to proliferate formal
sterotypes about getting the climax in the right place, or having just
the right amount of
dangling with a low whistle going on at 4'12".

Not that I succeeeded any better at saying what I wanted to here.

-- eliot


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