Author Topic: What is music?  (Read 12331 times)

Offline PH

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What is music?
« on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 09:20:21 »
I had an interesting discussion with my dad a couple of days ago.
He said to me that music consists of rhythm, melody and harmony and that with that in mind, Prog can't always be classified as music.

He even said that when those three elements aren't present, or when one of them is failing, it is crap.
To him the song One For The Vine from Genesis isn't music, because there's a part where the first bar of a certain melody doesn't fit with the rest of the song.
In other words, when you start with 4/4 you can't just change it to 3/4 without getting onto the same rhythm again, because you'd miss a piece of a bar.

I don't know if I made myself clear with this...

Anyway, it frustrates me that my dad puts music into a format of rules, because I think that you can like music even when it doesn't hold onto rules (as is much the case with prog music of course!).

Maybe we can have an interesting discussion about it. Reply whatever comes up in your mind about this subject.


-Paco

Offline Nicky007

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 11:42:10 »
Paco, I'd like to start by saying that I think it's great that you throw all these interesting thoughts into the room. I might not always respond immediately, and sometimes I might not contribute anything at all, but I always read your posts thoroughly and have your thoughts in the back of my mind. I have the impression that there are at least ten other roomies who do like I.

We also go through different phases in life; sometimes we feel full of pep and want to share all our stuff with others, other times we feel flat and wrapped up into ourselves.

Right now there are two things I'd like to say: Notes don't need to have a tight rhythm to be experienced a music. Prog usually does have a tight rhythm, but think of a pan flute or a violin playing solo in a church or out in nature: If the player loosens up the rhythm, the music attains a dreamy or spiritual atmosphere, but is still experienced as music. Here the word pulse may be more appropriate than rhythm.

The second thing is that music can easily have changing measures within one song or movement, e.g. changing between 4/4 and 3/4. Already Johann Sebastian Bach changed measures in his pieces in The Well-Tempered Keyboard. Beethoven took up on it and did it more often in his compositions. Dream Theater do it a lot, and I think that you and I at least can agree that this is music of the highest order.

Changing measures makes the music more complicated, but often more expressive and lasting.

Think of Pink Floyd's Money: This song freaked out people initially, because they couldn't get what was so different. The thing is that the singing part of Money is in 7/4, and then all of a sudden Dave goes off into one of his most fabulous solos in 4/4, changing the character entirely. I think that even Paco senior would agree on this.

Nicky.
« Last Edit: Thu, 2007-10-18, 11:49:56 by Nicky007 »
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Offline Nicky007

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 13:05:25 »
In fact, harmony isn't either an absolute requirement. Think of Bach's wonderful Suites for cello solo, or a flute playing an imaginative passage out in nature.

If it's a well-known melody, the listener creates his/her own harmonies along the way, e.g. if someone plays Auld Lang Syne on a bagpipe or violin.

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Offline Appelmoes??

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 16:56:47 »
To me music is just an expression of emotions or ideas that uses sound in a different way then talking. So it could be a kid banging on a cooking pot with a spoon, because he's enjoying it, or a person playing what he/she feels on a violin, or someone walking down the street humming. To me that's all music.

Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 20:47:20 »
Paco, I had similar discussions with my dad several times, and his definition of what is music (mainly all the - more or less famous - bands from the 60s, because that was the time when he was a teenager) and what isn't (generally every band that came up later than 1980) makes me think that these definitions vary quite a bit with each generation. For example, for our parents "our" music is just noise - but for our parents' parents, "their" (i. e. our parents) music was noise just the same.

I don't know how to put this any better, but I trust you know what I mean... if you ever heard some oldtimer ranting about "this terrible thin guy screaming his heart out" (= Mick Jagger ;D ), I bet you know exactly!

Offline Appelmoes??

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 20:58:57 »
Mick who?? ???



 ;D Just kidding!

Offline PH

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 21:02:08 »
Paco, I had similar discussions with my dad several times, and his definition of what is music (mainly all the - more or less famous - bands from the 60s, because that was the time when he was a teenager) and what isn't (generally every band that came up later than 1980) makes me think that these definitions vary quite a bit with each generation. For example, for our parents "our" music is just noise - but for our parents' parents, "their" (i. e. our parents) music was noise just the same.
I know what you mean. And I also recognise that in my situation of course. But that's not really what I was trying to say.
I'm not talking about what kind of music you like, but the definitions of music.
There's music that I don't like, but wether I like it or not, I know it IS called music. We sometimes say jokingly "You call that music?" but we know it is music, but just music we don't like. Technically it is music.
That's the three elements I was talking about earlier.

But music isn't only technical...
There's also the emotional side of music.

My dad holds very much onto those rules of music (technical), while I think that music can cross the borders or sometimes partly exist outside those rules as long as it sounds good (emotional).

I don't know how to put this any better, but I trust you know what I mean... if you ever heard some oldtimer ranting about "this terrible thin guy screaming his heart out" (= Mick Jagger ;D ), I bet you know exactly!
Hehehehe ;D


-Paco

Offline Appelmoes??

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 21:05:18 »
I;m lucky to have an openminded mother. She doesn't always like my music, but at least she doesn't call it rubbish or noise. She actually likes some of the "easier" songs from Nightwish, Within Temptation and I bet she would like the mellow bits of Arena too.
My dad is way to stubborn to admit he might like it, so to him it's all just noise... :-\

Offline PH

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 2007-10-18, 21:08:26 »
I should add that I can appreciate technical music ("the song's not good, but wow he can play that guitar!"), that I love emotional music ("he can't play very well, but still the song is brilliant!") and of course the combination (progressive rock ;)).
My dad only loves a combination of technique and emotion, although he can appreciate strictly technical music to some extend, but won't listen to it if I wouldn't play it for him.

Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 2007-10-19, 08:51:07 »
I know what you mean. And I also recognise that in my situation of course. But that's not really what I was trying to say.
I'm not talking about what kind of music you like, but the definitions of music.
I think I understand what you said and meant with your "definition of music", I just wanted to point out that the average music listener (i.e. those people who listen to, let's say, what's in the charts) usually doesn't take the trouble of analyzing the music they're listening to - they usually just categorize as "like it" or "argh, what a noise" (my experience - the latter always referring to the kind of music I like...). The only people I've met who like to dig a bit deeper into the music are usually people who studied music - or prog fans. (Well, maybe this means that I've met only the wrong people so far? :o  ;) )

There's music that I don't like, but wether I like it or not, I know it IS called music.
Yep, I totally agree to that!

My dad holds very much onto those rules of music (technical), while I think that music can cross the borders or sometimes partly exist outside those rules as long as it sounds good (emotional).
Hehehehe ;D
Well... he's not a music teacher by any chance?  ;)

Offline Nicky007

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 2007-10-19, 10:56:51 »
Paco, I had similar discussions with my dad several times, and his definition of what is music (mainly all the - more or less famous - bands from the 60s, because that was the time when he was a teenager) and what isn't (generally every band that came up later than 1980) makes me think that these definitions vary quite a bit with each generation. For example, for our parents "our" music is just noise - but for our parents' parents, "their" (i. e. our parents) music was noise just the same.

There certainly is this tendency, Bluey, but if we take the really excellent, innovative, thoroughly composed music, then it has a lasting appeal that spans over generations and centuries. Everyone in our times who enjoys music beyond the banal can appreciate Beethoven's symphonies, 200 years after they were composed, and if proggies got into Rachmaninoff's piano concertos, they'd be real surprised at how much of what we call prog today was already present there.

We can also take Pink Floyd. These guys made music that was so amazing and profound that not only do millions of people of my age still relish it, but even many youths of Paco's generation, if they're sufficiently exposed to it, go for it.

So in the last end it's a question of quality. Hit factory pop flashes for a moment, quality music lives "forever".

Nicky.
« Last Edit: Fri, 2007-10-19, 13:35:57 by Nicky007 »
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Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 2007-10-19, 13:12:18 »
That doesn't answer Paco's question, though...  ;)

Offline Nicky007

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 2007-10-19, 13:34:04 »
Maybe not, Bluey, but it poses some new interesting questions  ;D

I only answer questions that interest me  8)

Nicky.
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Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 2007-10-19, 15:58:53 »
I only answer questions that interest me  8)

Nicky.

Ah... that explains quite a bit!  ;)

Offline maddox

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #14 on: Sun, 2007-10-21, 15:45:37 »
Basically i believe that there are two kinds of music:

A) music that you listen to in the background, like for instance at work or doing some homework or whatever, and

B) music that you endure. With that i mean really listen to it. Exploring all the tiny details in the song and album and discover new things everytime you listen to it.
When i listen to music i usually take out the booklet and read every lyric and try to find the meaning of that particular lyric and what the band means with that song.
Because of the fact that i have a daughter i have to pick my moments but i usually listen to 'my' music behind the computer with the comfort of an earphone.

Generally i have to say that music is personal. What you think is music can be noise for some and visa versa. But what you never should do is question that. For instance, some people at work really love Dutch music, you know like F. Bau... and BZN. And although i don't, i think it's good. They find their taste is good. The only thing i ask in return is being granted with the same respect.  ;)


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Offline Nicky007

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 2007-10-22, 14:00:01 »
Yes, Maddox, live and let live, but among us, I think we should be allowed to talk about higher and lower quality within music.

The quality of music is very much proportional to the effort the musicians put into creating it, and dependent on the priorities they have: money and fame versus originality and perfection.

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Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 2007-10-22, 14:46:43 »
The quality of music is very much proportional to the effort the musicians put into creating it, and dependent on the priorities they have: money and fame versus originality and perfection.
Interesting... so what happens if musicians aren't very good on their instruments, but put a lot of effort into their music?
(According to Nicky's definition, it makes their music "good" music, at least as long as they have the right priorities). ;)

Offline Nicky007

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 2007-10-22, 15:18:41 »
Well, if they're not good enough, they simply have to practice more, study more, and try harder. That's pure and simple Darwinism, Bluey.

The reason why Dream Theater is the greatest band in the world is because the guys practiced like maniacs in their youth - they still practice a lot, in fact - and studied and practiced virtually all the existing music in the world, and because they stick together in spite of all their crises (e.g. Mike being an alcoholic for many years, no longer fortunately, and remember, Kevin left, wasn't pressed out).

Nicky.
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Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 2007-10-22, 15:24:09 »
Well, if they're not good enough, they simply have to practice more, study more, and try harder. That's pure and simple Darwinism, Bluey.
LOL! I'll tell my brother and his bandmates...  ;)

The reason why Dream Theater is the greatest band in the world is because the guys practiced like maniacs in their youth - they still practice a lot, in fact - and studied and practiced virtually all the existing music in the world, and because they stick together in spite of all their crises (e.g. Mike being an alcoholic for many years, no longer fortunately, and remember, Kevin left, wasn't pressed out).
Sorry, but I disagree (being fully aware that some people will stone me to death for what I will say now) - I don't think DT is the greatest band in the world. They may be technically very good musicians, but their music just doesn't 'click' with me...

Offline Nicky007

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 2007-10-22, 15:32:47 »
LOL! I'll tell my brother and his bandmates...  ;)

Tell'm to hide away the chillum and whisky and work instead. A couple'o beers wont hurt though  ;D

Sorry, but I disagree (being fully aware that some people will stone me to death for what I will say now) - I don't think DT is the greatest band in the world. They may be technically very good musicians, but their music just doesn't 'click' with me...

That's your problem (read: challenge), not mine, Bluey  ;)

Nicky.
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Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #20 on: Mon, 2007-10-22, 15:39:25 »
That's your problem (read: challenge), not mine, Bluey  ;)

Nicky.
Nope, not a problem at all for me!  ;)

Offline Peter

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 2007-10-22, 17:35:00 »
Yesm.
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Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 2007-10-23, 09:36:22 »

Offline Nicky007

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 2007-10-23, 09:48:29 »
"Yes ma'm" is my guess.

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Offline bluepony

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Re: What is music?
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 2007-10-23, 10:55:26 »
Could be... (I hate those abbreviations!)