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July 27, 2000
Rev: July 4, 2004
Rev: December 21, 2004
Musical conventions are just that.
A culturally determined language. This fact (definition? analogy?)
suggests that you can learn
Difficult to grasp sometimes. musical languages, with practice,
much as you can learn any other
You get very kind of language.
visceral reactions CONCRETE_MUSIC
to music, more so Though perhaps also: you will
than from words. always have trouble learning a
foreign language as well as
No one needs to be told the your childhood language(s).
meaning of a major chord to feel
the meaning... And there may be musical
languages which are more
And yet I'm told by difficult to learn than
ethnomusicologists, that others... analogs of
there is no culturally Chinese, say, which a
independant meaning of With the typical Westerner must
a music interval. exception, give up on the idea of
perhaps of ever truly mastering.
The difference between the beat
a major and a minor frequencies So, something you
chord is not a matter heard when don't like may simply
of physics or biology. two notes be in a language you
are very don't know. Yet.
each other. EXPLAINING_THE_INEXPLICABLE
And yet, even there: the To me, there's an unholy
male and female gongs of triumvarate of bad music
the gamelan use this genres: metal, disco and
feature intentionally in blues.
their low, shimmering
melodies; but in the But it may be that even
West we try to make it these are ranked low by me
go away, listening for just because of my inability
it is just a trick for to hear them as a "native"
tuning instruments. would. It could be, for
example, that the musical
tedium I experience
listening to blues (same
chord progression, nearly
the same melody, heavily
subjects) is a shallow
Indeed, I sometimes defend other artistic
genres that use a standard framework:
It doesn't mean there's no creativity
(A kind of involved, it just means that it's built on
minimalism?) top of the framework, rather than embedded
in the framework.
"[The formula] says there
What about the must be a monster, but it is
esthetic/ethic the individual hack who
of "eclecticism"? searches his own heart for
what it is that frightens."
Literally it means ranging -- Algis Budrys, F&SF Aug 1976
widely and selecting the
best. But how do you know
what the best is?
A devotee of hip-hop
will undoubtably have
at least a somewhat
of the "best" than I do.
Relativism is hard
At KZSU, the hip-hop DJs to accept in the
tend to be purists, they Eclectics and purists things you hold dear...
like traditional/old-school are necessarily always
hip-hop, and dislike at war with each other.
attempts at cross-over say,
by using a pop-lyrical
chorus as a refrain to the
You can't select philosophy
the "best" of an of beauty?
artform without A human
understanding the Unless: understanding esthetic?
artform. is portable among
artforms, much as
And you can't learning two or three
understand a European languages
Further: no way single particular will make it much
to know a field artform while easier to learn yet
without knowing trying to another.
all related understand
fields, and one *every* artform...
thing leads to
another, as it Time constraints
will... alone make this
And there's another bad
problem: the badness
I sometimes problem. Almost by
think: "I just definition, a fan of a
don't know much So people like genre is someone who likes
about X" where X myself, who are even the worst examples of
is a type of inclined to it... otherwise they
music. "If only claim to be couldn't stand to become
I really focused eclectic, to familiar with it.
on X instead of some extent
listening to a we're fooling Someone coming
dozen different ourselves. from outside the
kinds of music, genre, trying to
I could get If I do a piece find the best
really expert at influenced by the examples of it
it, like the sound of the runs into a wall
real fans." classical music of because you need
India, it's to rely on these
X could be possible (perhaps fanatics for
a lot of likely) that I am guidance... and
things. not really they can't see
Goth music, influenced so much it the way you do.
Jazz, Western by Indian culture,
Classical, but rather using They're using
all of the Indian culture as a radically
different a kind of random different
World noise generator, definiton of
Musics... a way of finding what's good.
But let's say that are different But: these strange
that I decided from the usual definitions of
I was going to music I'm familar the good are not
really focus on with. necessarily bad
ambient" music. I'm not going to
That's still a hear the sounds
pretty broad the way a person
field, but if from that culture
you worked on hears them. Understanding A problem that
it, you would an art may be arose in trying
know most of in essence to "elevate" the
the important learning to science fiction
stuff after a embrace that field: the demand
year or so. alternative that SF be good
esthetic. in the same way
Can you really judge Learning to fiction can be
something like an see what's good, ignored the
"industrial ambient" piece good even in right of SF to be
without a broader the worst good in the ways
background in different examples. that SF can be
fields of music, including, good.
for example, Experimental
Classical music? A fan of (A paraphrase
industrial starts out of a point by...
thinking that Throbbing Delany? Budrys
Gristle invented nearly again?)
everything of importance,
and only belatedly realizes Compare to the
that people like Edgard problem with
Varese got there earlier. "progressive
rock": an attempt
Just like an ambient at infusing the
techno fan might feel values of
that the world began classical music,
with Brian Eno, and that nearly
miss out on Morton destroyed the
Feldman, Pauline value of rock...
Oliveros, John Cage,
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