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Metal => Interzone => Topic started by: Conservationist on August 17, 2009, 01:04:52 PM

Title: Objective quality of music
Post by: Conservationist on August 17, 2009, 01:04:52 PM
This came up on another board, but here I can talk to people with some experience in logical analysis, critical thought, debate and argumentation, philosophy and legal thinking:

How do we know music has objective quality, meaning that Britney Spears is not equal to Beethoven?

My pseudo-proof proof:

1. All things have quality; if not physical, quality of organization and truthfulness (correspondence to reality).
2. If Beethoven were played on a kazoo, it would still be good; thus, aesthetic surface qualities are irrelevant (production, voice, etc).
3. We can measure the degree of complexity, complexity of phrase, use of musical elements, etc., and finally derive artistic meaning.
4. Complexity and aesthetics in art are driven by this expression of artistic meaning.
5. Therefore, that which has artistic meaning is going to have quality.

Rejoinder 1:

"But that's subjective!"

Answer: everything is subjective based on the limitations of the perceiver. In other words, just because you can't tell the difference between Britney and Beethoven doesn't mean it does not exist. (http://www.metal-archives.com/search.php?string=I&type=band)
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Ildjicide on August 17, 2009, 02:43:48 PM
"But that's subjective!"

If I had a nickel...

I think you're right in that there is an objective ranking of music in terms of quality and that we can to a certain extent derive it despite our subjective viewpoints. When it comes to comparing Beethoven and Spears, the gap is so large that literally no one would argue otherwise, but as we compare pieces of music that are closer together in quality, our measurements become a lot less reliable. There is a limit to which our ideas of reality can overlap with the objective and it is (my goal at least) to push the limit as much as possible.

While the message is more important, I think that aesthetics are also important in presenting the message adequately. We can't escape our subjective nature completely and so the superficial qualities of music will always play some part in our judgments, especially when it comes to comparing pieces of similar quality.

This means our approach is a mix of the objective and subjective with the goal of tipping the balance towards the objective.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Sepulchral Voice on August 17, 2009, 03:33:38 PM
When it comes to comparing Beethoven and Spears, the gap is so large that literally no one would argue otherwise

They WERE arguing otherwise on the NWN forums.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Ildjicide on August 17, 2009, 03:56:26 PM
Oh, excuse me.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

- Albert Einstein
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: scourge on August 17, 2009, 04:02:14 PM
Subjective has two meanings for people, which further confuses things. The first is what they personally prefer, which may or may not be shared by some others. The second is more abstract, meaning simply not objective. The use of this term is a method for passively, defensively avoiding powerful things we cannot control the basis of like quality. Fear of intangibles like truth and quality force us to understand we are individually less important, or less empowered than society would have us believe.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Light Emitting Diode on August 17, 2009, 04:45:40 PM
2. If Beethoven were played on a kazoo, it would still be good; thus, aesthetic surface qualities are irrelevant (production, voice, etc).

I could not disagree with the second rule more. The spirit of music is not some abstract concept that exists outside or in spite of the music. As well as the written notation the way the music is sounded, the orchestration, the acoustics of the performance area all contribute to its spirit. Music unlike paintings and sculptures is not a static art; it only exists as it sounds and the way it sounds is dependent on not just the unchanging elements of the music but, as said before on the performance aspects. Would you honestly enjoy hearing the entirety of Beethovenís 9th performed by an ensemble of kazoos as much as you would its intended instrumentation? If aesthetic qualities are irrelevant it matters not how skilled a musician, how competent a conductor or well tuned an instrument is. It would matter not if the musicians play in time or in the same key so long as one can still visualise the original work. Composers write more than just the pitch and rhythm. They assign it to specific instruments for a reason, write specific tempo markings for a reason and write all the other hundreds of symbols used to give a more exact nature to the piece for a reason.

It is not a secret that the specific timbre of instruments during the baroque and early classical era held less (but not no) importance than in later periods. But in those later periods you cannot simply swap instruments lightly. If we look at the music of Wagner it is all about the specific nature of each instrument and how it compliments the specific nature of each other instrument.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Light Emitting Diode on August 17, 2009, 05:08:48 PM
On another note if life has no discernable inherent meaning then there cannot be an objectively greater anything including music. However that being said I want to be a happy individual. Naturally I want a life which brings the most pleasure. This may sound like hedonism however in the end so is every human pursuit. Christians view the grace of God as better than anything else. The Buddhist sees enlightenment as most noble path. A philanthropist finds more happiness helping others than helping himself and so on ad nauseum. I believe there are objective means to gaining a particular mindset and ethos.

I see the music of Beethoven as conductive to the path I have chosen, not that he is inherently better than anyone else. Before you talk about the objectivity of music you must designate a goal, or rather a path. Then it can be discussed what music helps one along such a path. I believe that this follows a worldly aim and can thusly be discerned with objectivity in the same manner as to discerning who the faster runner is etc.

However to say that the will of music is entirely objective is to say that will is entirely objective which is to say there must be a reason for it to be entirely objective. Outside of some metaphysical force I cannot think of a reason how any human will can be objectively better than anything else. It goes without saying that I reject the idea of some omnipotent and omniscience metaphysical force.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Sammaellofi on August 17, 2009, 05:16:21 PM
I say we use the scientic method.  We take whatever somebody says is Britney Spear's "master work" and compare it one of Beethoven's symphonies (3rd, 5th, 7th, or 9th) and have one person get aquainted with both pieces, then have them listen to them more times than a person normally would in one day, and see which one leaves the listener more fullfilled.  Repeat with someone else many times.  Compare percentage. 


Viola. 


Just kidding.


But seriously, time will pluck out Britney Spears, though not fast enough.  No one will know who she is in one hundred years, but Beethoven will stil be everywhere.  Seriously, how can anyone expect Britney Spears to stand out among all the other modern static.  Because she was more famous?  What musician can you name from the 1800s who was famous, did not write their own music, only pretended to sing, and pretty much only amounted to nothing more than an over-priced stripper?
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: ice-t on August 17, 2009, 05:50:13 PM
You're never going to hook up Hell Awaits to a machine and see how many millibachs it generates or something. The point is to develop internally consistent criteria for gauging music and these premises might vary with stylistic, period, culture and class conditions. For the purposes of pop and art music, the questions are obviously something along the lines of effective communication of the artist's ideas, how the artist affirms or negates the expectations of the audience given the style he's working in, etc.

I actually found this blog post pretty spot on:
http://www.artsjournal.com/postclassic/2009/08/the_epistemology_of_elitism.html (http://www.artsjournal.com/postclassic/2009/08/the_epistemology_of_elitism.html)
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Light Emitting Diode on August 17, 2009, 06:10:42 PM
I say we use the scientic method.  We take whatever somebody says is Britney Spear's "master work" and compare it one of Beethoven's symphonies (3rd, 5th, 7th, or 9th) and have one person get aquainted with both pieces, then have them listen to them more times than a person normally would in one day, and see which one leaves the listener more fullfilled.  Repeat with someone else many times.  Compare percentage. 

But seriously, time will pluck out Britney Spears, though not fast enough.  No one will know who she is in one hundred years, but Beethoven will stil be everywhere.  Seriously, how can anyone expect Britney Spears to stand out among all the other modern static.  Because she was more famous?  What musician can you name from the 1800s who was famous, did not write their own music, only pretended to sing, and pretty much only amounted to nothing more than an over-priced stripper?

If the person listening to it is not on a path that is consistent with the music of Beethoven they are likely not going to find very much use and enjoyment in it. I think if we did this experiment of yours the numbers would not be kind to Beethoven.

Will people really not know who she is in one hundred years? We still remember The Beatles, Elvis and Robert Johnson (whom was born one hundred years ago) and I cannot foresee them being caste into oblivion any faster than Beethoven. To say that we only remember the great I think to be a naive statement when we talk of music. I think we remember the truly gargantuan and famous with only the occasional minor figure becoming a star.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Conservationist on August 17, 2009, 08:41:33 PM
Quote
Where subjectivity comes in is that there is no objective criterion by which we can proclaim that craftsmanship is a higher virtue than innovation or sensuousness.

http://www.artsjournal.com/postclassic/2009/08/the_epistemology_of_elitism.html

What about all three? Innovation doesn't exist by itself; it is driven by the need to express. Sensuousness similarly. Further, craftmanship; we've seen too many cases of musicians playing below their ability (http://www.anus.com/metal/darkthrone) to make a point. Maybe what art seeks to do, as W.S. Burroughs suggests, is represent some aspect of reality in an exciting and poetic way.

Regarding the "scientific method":

I think it might work. Subjecting someone to a week of Britney Spears and a week of Beethoven might knock the lint out of their heads. Then again, if they're dumb as bricks, they might end up hating both or neither. Dumb people have a high tolerance for disorganized sound.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: wEEman33 on August 17, 2009, 11:23:16 PM
Here's a much more practical proof:

1) Listen to a piece of music

2) A month later, do you still find yourself listening to it? (if yes, it's good)

3) A year later, do you still find yourself listening to it? (if yes, it's great)

4) Could you see yourself listening to it everyday for the rest of your life (if yes, it's godly)

When you try to quantify what separates "good" and "bad" art, all you get are silly descriptions like "innovation" and "complexity," but when it comes down to it, all that really matters is that the art has some sort of depth or profundity in its execution and intent--qualities that are best felt, not described in lists.

I could, for example, try to tell you what makes an album like Discharge's "Hear Nothing..." profound, but until you come to understand it through your own experience, my words will mean nothing to you.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Devamitra on August 17, 2009, 11:30:28 PM
The solution would be to kill off the Britney fans.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Sammaellofi on August 18, 2009, 07:58:13 AM
The solution would be to kill off the Britney fans.

That is the most logical idea so far
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Sammaellofi on August 18, 2009, 07:59:58 AM
Will people really not know who she is in one hundred years? We still remember The Beatles, Elvis and Robert Johnson (whom was born one hundred years ago) and I cannot foresee them being caste into oblivion any faster than Beethoven. To say that we only remember the great I think to be a naive statement when we talk of music. I think we remember the truly gargantuan and famous with only the occasional minor figure becoming a star.


People remember those men because there are a lot of people who claim that those men created art.  Whether that's true or not, no one thinks Britney created art, and while a lot of people remember Frank Sinatra, his contemporaries are getting hazier by the day.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Nimbostratus on August 18, 2009, 01:15:06 PM

1. All things have quality; if not physical, quality of organization and truthfulness (correspondence to reality).


There're no multiple beauties, but one, Beauty. Truth is Beauty; style is nothing but a scope of the prismatic properties of Truth.

Unfortunately people wanders astray in fragments, beautiful things over here and there, but not an integrative sense of beauty.

Quote

"But that's subjective!"

Answer: everything is subjective based on the limitations of the perceiver. In other words, just because you can't tell the difference between Britney and Beethoven doesn't mean it does not exist.  (http://www.metal-archives.com/search.php?string=I&type=band)

Indeed. When a man makes music, all depends on his intelligence to answer the aesthetic question. It happens the same for the listener. The big disgrace is that music, in practical use, is no longer treated as Art by none of them.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: ice-t on August 18, 2009, 04:04:28 PM
What about all three? Innovation doesn't exist by itself; it is driven by the need to express. Sensuousness similarly. Further, craftmanship; we've seen too many cases of musicians playing below their ability (http://www.anus.com/metal/darkthrone) to make a point. Maybe what art seeks to do, as W.S. Burroughs suggests, is represent some aspect of reality in an exciting and poetic way.
Did you read the whole thing? The author wouldn't likely disagree with anything you just said. I think it's also worth pointing out that he comes out of the whole Downtown/minimalist milieu so I doubt the subversion of conventional notions of craftsmanship would be lost on him.

When you try to quantify what separates "good" and "bad" art, all you get are silly descriptions like "innovation" and "complexity," but when it comes down to it, all that really matters is that the art has some sort of depth or profundity in its execution and intent--qualities that are best felt, not described in lists.

I could, for example, try to tell you what makes an album like Discharge's "Hear Nothing..." profound, but until you come to understand it through your own experience, my words will mean nothing to you.
If this is directed at me, I think you misread me. I don't advocate anything as bluntly reductionistic as "INNOVATION 3/5, PRODUCTION 4/5, LYRICS 2.5/5" and so on down the line as if they were the stats for a video game character. Moreover, I directly brought up exactly the issue of intent/execution in my post. If not, then whatever, gotta post post
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Conservationist on August 20, 2009, 01:37:37 AM
What about all three? Innovation doesn't exist by itself; it is driven by the need to express. Sensuousness similarly. Further, craftmanship; we've seen too many cases of musicians playing below their ability (http://www.anus.com/metal/darkthrone) to make a point. Maybe what art seeks to do, as W.S. Burroughs suggests, is represent some aspect of reality in an exciting and poetic way.
Did you read the whole thing? The author wouldn't likely disagree with anything you just said. I think it's also worth pointing out that he comes out of the whole Downtown/minimalist milieu so I doubt the subversion of conventional notions of craftsmanship would be lost on him.

No, I didn't -- it was babble. No offense, but I recognized immediately a certain style of writing/thinking that was popular in academia and avoided it. Bad logic ahoy.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Goluf on August 20, 2009, 08:54:18 PM
There are just some things that are good.

So why would you spend your time debating the viability of principles of quality (which may or may not be above your level of understanding), when you could instead apply yourself to what you know in your heart to be of quality?

That's where I'm at right now.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Light Emitting Diode on August 21, 2009, 06:54:12 PM
There are just some things that are good.

So why would you spend your time debating the viability of principles of quality (which may or may not be above your level of understanding), when you could instead apply yourself to what you know in your heart to be of quality?

I am sure this has been an argument used in support of every bigotry that this world has known from racism to young earth creationism. Unfortunately this idea only confirms what one wants to believe, not that which is true.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Ymir on August 23, 2009, 01:42:07 PM
Quote from: celticcross
how I do discover them? Listen, keep digging by repeated listening until you dig it. then after you have managed to appreciate both pieces, one of them will probably start to bore you after some time(if you listen enough)? Why? Because it is I N F E R I O R.

What if you're beyond boredom?

Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Nimbostratus on August 23, 2009, 01:42:39 PM
Music is not, as many people think, a bunch of sounds that they might like for unknown reasons.

Music is language, information, as simple as that. Appreciation is the ability to decode this language and to mentally build that specific colors of the musical moment, and to grasp the entire idea of a work. Through this organization, the composer tell us his Weltanschauung, then you compare it with life and you go through life with that.

I can't stand people indicting TV, stupid movies, stupid books, then enjoying stupid music as it was a casual and unattainable object apart from reality.

You may fill your head with useless and vapid information (Spears, Britney) and go through life in that way, but you will be objectively a fool, regardless your annual income.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Light Emitting Diode on August 24, 2009, 05:54:46 PM
-there are always differences. Something is of higher quality than something else. Sometimes the difference is bigger, sometimes it is not
-britney and Beethoven=huge difference. Beethoven is better. Mozart vs. Beethoven=small(er) difference. Beethoven is once again better.
-how I do discover them? Listen, keep digging by repeated listening until you dig it. then after you have managed to appreciate both pieces, one of them will probably start to bore you after some time(if you listen enough)? Why? Because it is I N F E R I O R.

You are confusing a particular end of yours for an objective omnipresent value system that exists outside of the human. The question of why is always present if one is trying to talk of an objective all encompassing value system when they reject metaphysical arguments. Beethoven is better than Mozart, why? You can name specific elements of what you perceive to be better but it can still be said why do these elements have value? In the end it comes down to this, Beethoven is better than Britney Spears because it furthers my own philosophy, my own ethos. This is a worldly goal and can be argued for or against. Some vague idea of some external value system independent of people cannot be proven any more than the existence of a god.

I happen to prefer Mozart to Beethoven. Can you change my mind by convincing me that Beethoven is objectively better than Mozart?
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: scourge on August 24, 2009, 06:40:07 PM
Quote
Hence, with the exception of Epicureanism, which Neoplatonism dreaded as its mortal enemy, every important system of former times was drawn upon by the new philosophy. But we should not on that account call Neoplatonism an eclectic system in the usual sense of the word. For in the first place, it had one pervading and all-predominating interest, the religious; and in the second place, it introduced into philosophy a new supreme principle, the super-rational, or the super-essential. This principle should not be identified with the “Ideas” of Plato or the “Form” of Aristotle. For as Zeller rightly says: “In Plato and Aristotle the distinction of the sensuous and the intelligible is the strongest expression for belief in the truth of thought; it is only sensuous perception and sensuous existence whose relative falsehood they presuppose; but of a higher stage of spiritual life lying beyond idea and thought, there is no mention. In Neoplatonism, on the other hand, it is just this super-rational element which is regarded as the final goal of all effort, and the highest ground of all existence; the knowledge gained by thought is only an intermediate stage between sensuous perception and the super-rational intuition; the intelligible forms are not that which is highest and last, but only the media by which the influences of the formless original essence are communicated to the world. This view therefore presupposes not merely doubt of the reality of sensuous existence and sensuous notions, but absolute doubt, aspiration beyond all reality. The highest intelligible is not that which constitutes the real content of thought, but only that which is presupposed and earnestly desired by man as the unknowable ground of his thought.” Neoplatonism recognised that a religious ethic can be built neither on sense-perception nor on knowledge gained by the understanding, and that it cannot be justified by these; it therefore broke both with intellectual ethics and with utilitarian morality. But for that very reason, having as it were parted with perception and understanding in relation to the ascertaining of the highest truth, it was compelled to seek for a new world and a new function in the human spirit, in order to ascertain the existence of what it desired, and to comprehend and describe that of which it had ascertained the existence. But man cannot transcend his psychological endowment. An iron ring incloses him. He who does not allow his thought to be determined by experience falls a prey to fancy, that is thought which cannot be suppressed assumes a mythological aspect: superstition takes the place of reason, dull gazing at something incomprehensible is regarded as the highest goal of the spirit’s efforts, and every conscious activity of the spirit is subordinated to visionary conditions artificially brought about. But that every conceit may not be allowed to assert itself, the gradual exploration of every region of knowledge according to every method of acquiring it, is demanded as a preliminary—the Neoplatonists did not make matters easy for themselves,—and a new and mighty principle is set up which is to bridle fancy, viz., the authority of a sure tradition. This authority must be superhuman, otherwise it would not come under consideration; it must therefore be divine. On divine disclosures, that is revelations, must rest both the highest super-rational region of knowledge and the possibility of knowledge itself. In a word, the philosophy which Neoplatonism represents, whose final interest is the religious, and whose highest object is the super-rational, must be a philosophy of revelation.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/harnack/dogma1.ii.iv.iii.html

What they're saying is it is our doom to never comprehend the pure essence of being, ultimate truth, beyond ourselves. We can't. We can only believe it is there and in believing we set forth in striving toward it. Stop believing in this pure essence out there beyond us and declension to relativism, atomism, nothingness, evil and ignorance overtakes us. The above quote also belongs to the religion and relativism threads.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Sepulchral Voice on August 24, 2009, 08:08:23 PM
I happen to prefer Mozart to Beethoven. Can you change my mind by convincing me that Beethoven is objectively better than Mozart?

I can't provide concrete proof that Beethoven is superior, but to me, the majority of Mozart's work sounds more formulaic than Beethoven, while Beethoven sounds more expressive. Of course, this is just one guy's opinion.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Ildjicide on August 24, 2009, 08:58:08 PM
-there are always differences. Something is of higher quality than something else. Sometimes the difference is bigger, sometimes it is not
-britney and Beethoven=huge difference. Beethoven is better. Mozart vs. Beethoven=small(er) difference. Beethoven is once again better.
-how I do discover them? Listen, keep digging by repeated listening until you dig it. then after you have managed to appreciate both pieces, one of them will probably start to bore you after some time(if you listen enough)? Why? Because it is I N F E R I O R.

You are confusing a particular end of yours for an objective omnipresent value system that exists outside of the human. The question of why is always present if one is trying to talk of an objective all encompassing value system when they reject metaphysical arguments. Beethoven is better than Mozart, why? You can name specific elements of what you perceive to be better but it can still be said why do these elements have value? In the end it comes down to this, Beethoven is better than Britney Spears because it furthers my own philosophy, my own ethos. This is a worldly goal and can be argued for or against. Some vague idea of some external value system independent of people cannot be proven any more than the existence of a god.

I happen to prefer Mozart to Beethoven. Can you change my mind by convincing me that Beethoven is objectively better than Mozart?

You can't prove the objective, you can only assimilate it and add it to your subjective worldview (this pretty much goes by definition). Proving to you that Beethoven is better than Mozart won't somehow "fool" the system and prove that objective reality exists.

Objective reality is something you strive for, because understanding your world better will make you a more successful living organism. If you agree with this idea, then you will naturally carry it over to the way you judge music, train yourself and build up skills to judge music as close to objectively as possible. This of course requires learning from people who have done so before you and trusting that the direction they have take is correct so far.

Many people realize that the objective is unobtainable in the absolute and just give up. You know, it's all subjective, man, just stick to whatever floats your boat. But if science has taught us anything it should be that we can in fact improve our understanding of the world. We have been able to do some extraordinary things, which means we definitely got something right. Otherwise, we would have never gone to the Moon; physics is that unforgiving. So again, the objective is something you strive for, not something you can prove exists as an external value system.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Light Emitting Diode on August 24, 2009, 10:04:40 PM
You can't prove the objective, you can only assimilate it and add it to your subjective worldview (this pretty much goes by definition). Proving to you that Beethoven is better than Mozart won't somehow "fool" the system and prove that objective reality exists.

Objective reality is something you strive for, because understanding your world better will make you a more successful living organism. If you agree with this idea, then you will naturally carry it over to the way you judge music, train yourself and build up skills to judge music as close to objectively as possible. This of course requires learning from people who have done so before you and trusting that the direction they have take is correct so far.

Many people realize that the objective is unobtainable in the absolute and just give up. You know, it's all subjective, man, just stick to whatever floats your boat. But if science has taught us anything it should be that we can in fact improve our understanding of the world. We have been able to do some extraordinary things, which means we definitely got something right. Otherwise, we would have never gone to the Moon; physics is that unforgiving. So again, the objective is something you strive for, not something you can prove exists as an external value system.


Objectivity is something to be strived for but I will not create things out of convenience in order to fill such a need. Science has shown us that as far as our understanding of the universe goes we have not been able to discern any inherent value within it. We are talking about such things as better and worse not quantitive matters such as bigger and smaller to which you were referring to when we were talking of objective reality. Here we are not looking at any particular physical element of the music but we are rather making a value judgment as to its worth.

The creation and/or existence of an objective value system is the same as religion. There must be something that gives human ideas of value real worth that covers all humans and lives outside of them. Because nothing in this universe can give inherent meaning to anything else it must exist outside, parallel or in conjunction with another universe or outside our own. Such an entity or force is the same kind of entities and forces that are worshipped by every religion around the world. The entire book "Beyond Good and Evil" By Nietzsche was about the subjective non-existence of man's morals in the real world, hence the title.

Do not think that I permit any action or deed because I believe the world of value to be subjective. I was simply casting down the idea of objective morality and I thought what should replace this void was not within the scope of this argument.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Ildjicide on August 24, 2009, 10:40:48 PM

Objectivity is something to be strived for but I will not create things out of convenience in order to fill such a need. Science has shown us that as far as our understanding of the universe goes we have not been able to discern any inherent value within it. We are talking about such things as better and worse not quantitive matters such as bigger and smaller to which you were referring to when we were talking of objective reality. Here we are not looking at any particular physical element of the music but we are rather making a value judgment as to its worth.

The creation and/or existence of an objective value system is the same as religion. There must be something that gives human ideas of value real worth that covers all humans and lives outside of them. Because nothing in this universe can give inherent meaning to anything else it must exist outside, parallel or in conjunction with another universe or outside our own. Such an entity or force is the same kind of entities and forces that are worshipped by every religion around the world. The entire book "Beyond Good and Evil" By Nietzsche was about the subjective non-existence of man's morals in the real world, hence the title.

Do not think that I permit any action or deed because I believe the world of value to be subjective. I was simply casting down the idea of objective morality and I thought what should replace this void was not within the scope of this argument.


Science has shown the value of truth - deduction based on true premises will yield results that work in the real world. Value systems are not external, but they can reflect the importance of truth and thus they can resemble reality. Just because something is subjective, doesn't mean it excludes objective reality. The two can overlap and you want them to overlap to improve your understanding.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Light Emitting Diode on August 25, 2009, 05:53:45 PM
Science has shown the value of truth - deduction based on true premises will yield results that work in the real world. Value systems are not external, but they can reflect the importance of truth and thus they can resemble reality. Just because something is subjective, doesn't mean it excludes objective reality. The two can overlap and you want them to overlap to improve your understanding.

Our values have been created over the millions of years of our evolution to allow us to survive. That is all that morality is. There is a reason why the earth orbits its center of gravity, a reason why paper ignites at the temperature that it does but there is no value in it. In the same way these processes occur without value is the same way the human works. The human is a set of moving parts, a whole array of processes that lacks value. Humans may make value but it is purely a human idea that does not exist in nature.

Man may make value and it may be tested, debated, argued and falsified but it is not a value system that is inherent to the universe but only relative to the human. You are right man's values are based upon reality or at least a facet or particular element of reality. However these values are only meant to allow man to survive and to feel good.  Even such emotions as empathy and pity only serve to allow man to live. As we leave the lifestyle that these values were crafted for and we enter pursuits that are beyond ideas of survival because it is assured we find that morality becomes a problem. In the end our societies are simply an agreement between people to try and survive and be happy in a safer environment.

The will of music is the product of its construction. The orchestration, the notation and performance all and entirely creates the will of the music. Thus the spirit of the music is entirely grounded in the physical world and is open to observation, criticisms etc.  We can look at what musical elements contribute to what set of wills and show how certain music creates certain feelings in a person. I am saying that through this process we can show that Beethoven can make a person happier than Britney Spears. We can show that he is to a certain degree objectively better than Spears in this pursuit.  However we can also show by the same method that this car is faster than this car because these judgments are grounded in reality but that does not make the faster car better or greater than the slower car, it just means it is objectively faster. In the same way Beethoven is not objectively better than Spears but can objectively create greater happiness.

I believe in value, I just reject the idea of inherent value in the universe.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: AnHero on August 25, 2009, 06:32:06 PM
^ I think we can put an end to this digression by agreeing that music doesn't have objective quality but has fairly consistent effects on human beings, especially if they come from the same cultural background as each other, especially if they all come from the same cultural background as the music.

Things that cause music to have a consistent effect would be psychoacoustics. Harmonic and melodic intervals have consistent objective aspects and human minds perceive them the same way. A fifth interval in a chord has a frequency ratio of approx 3:2, thus it has a strong sound and the vast majority of listeners would agree. A minor second interval has a ratio of about 25:24 (even crazier, really), so it sounds harsh. 99.99999% of people will agree. Now, which harmonies are too harsh or confusing to be used in good taste has changed over the centuries, but their relative subjective quality remains the same. Objectively, a minor second and fifth have the same quality - none. But subjectively, they have a very different effect. Same thing for melodic intervals, the conjunct-ness of a melody, functional (i.e. I-IV-V) harmonic progressions, effects of rhythm, the logical effect of structuring and arrangement, how bizarre microtonal music sounds, etc. I don't want to go into a whole lecture on this, so just look it up for more info.

The second would be cultural consensus. I've read that different keys were once thought to have different characteristics. C minor was the key of heroic struggle, Bflat minor was morose and lonely, D major was celebratory, A major was suitable for music about love and so on. I don't think there is a psychoacoustic explanation for these, except that C major (the white keys of a piano) was considered the most basic key for a long time, so the farther a piece of music modulated from that, the stranger it would sound from what listeners were used to. Certain melodic and rhythmic patterns have become understood to have certain meanings, and some structures we get used to, and are exploited (see verse/chorus). Included in this is the practices of sticking to convention and breaking convention. Good pieces of music often seem to do both. There is an agreed-upon standard that we all understand, and they it is broken away from temporarily for effect.

Taking these small things into account, we recognize that all complex systems (the human mind, a computer, a symphony, or the human mind while listening to a simple song) are built out of small parts and the function of the large system depends on how these small elements interact. Some things are still to complex to compare their every element for an objective assessment which is better from any subjective point-of-view, but it could eventually be possible to do so, say with a thoroughly researched model of the average human mind and a big enough computer. <- Thinking about this, I wonder if it would then be possible for a computer to write The Perfect Song, or something close.

Put simply, you could say music has certain objective aspects that have strong subjective implications.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Umbrage on August 25, 2009, 07:00:10 PM
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Humans may make value but it is purely a human idea that does not exist in nature.

So animals are just disorganized creatures that don't have any values? Ever read about ants or bees?

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Our values have been created over the millions of years of our evolution to allow us to survive.

Lulz, the oldest homo sapiens found is about 200,000 years old. That's not "millions of years." Sorry bro but it had to be said.

Morality has changed much over the centuries and is different with each culture. Morality is just a sign of the times, much like fashion is. That today Britney Spears is supposedly valued more than Beethoven is simply related to the time we live in, not to their music. But Britney Spears doesn't have as many streets named after her and never will, so what exactly is this thread trying to prove anyway? It's no mystery that Beethoven has contributed far more to western culture than Britney Spears has and anyone ignorant about that is obviously stupid. The anthem of the EU is Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" conducted by Herbert Von Karajan. Sorry for you Americans who have to deal with R&B singers messing up your national anthem in overcrowded baseball stadiums but that's why America isn't considered to be very cultural in the first place. Analyzing Beethoven for retards won't help, what you need is a cultural enema.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: AnHero on August 25, 2009, 07:40:47 PM
So animals are just disorganized creatures that don't have any values? Ever read about ants or bees?

I think he was referring to consciously held values, abstract values unrelated to survival in particular. Ants and bees don't know they're organized, they are just responding to instincts to work together.

Morality is just a sign of the times, much like fashion is.

I wouldn't say morals are completely made up. Much of what you might call traditional morality is fairly consistent across cultures and across history. Honesty is an example I like to use, as I can't imagine a culture where honesty wasn't a virtue, except ours of course. It's not working out too well. Some morals come and go, but some come to be because they are necessary for a functioning community.

That today Britney Spears is supposedly valued more than Beethoven is simply related to the time we live in, not to their music.

True. Few people will contend that classical music is better than pop music, because that's what we're told by academics. The issue should be more about convincing people to take the time to appreciate the classics.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Light Emitting Diode on August 26, 2009, 02:42:27 PM
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Our values have been created over the millions of years of our evolution to allow us to survive.

Lulz, the oldest homo sapiens found is about 200,000 years old. That's not "millions of years." Sorry bro but it had to be said.

I was not implying that we as a species were millions of years old. I was talking about the lifeforms that we had come from, not just us as we are now.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Nimbostratus on August 29, 2009, 11:11:55 PM

Man may make value and it may be tested, debated, argued and falsified but it is not a value system that is inherent to the universe but only relative to the human. You are right man's values are based upon reality or at least a facet or particular element of reality. However these values are only meant to allow man to survive and to feel good.  Even such emotions as empathy and pity only serve to allow man to live. As we leave the lifestyle that these values were crafted for and we enter pursuits that are beyond ideas of survival because it is assured we find that morality becomes a problem. In the end our societies are simply an agreement between people to try and survive and be happy in a safer environment.


So, would you define the most replicated genes and their respective, superstructural values as the best, given the fact that they multiplied in greater numbers and thus with more efficiency?

Britney Spears is a sign of decline, an excessive and numerically "successful" replication of these genes: Crowdism.

Let's decode Spears: "Love me, because I'm a star made of individualistic pleasure, dream me and consume me"

Let's decode Beethoven: "Life is struggle and dance, between the might and the subtlety, in the gathering of the skies and the entrails".

Now, it's clearer how destructive and poisonous is crappy music and its companying perception of the world for the spirit and for the environment. Why not recognize Beethoven as a voice of romanticism? Why not recognize romanticism to be objectively superior than the self-wanking [post]postmodernism?

Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: scourge on September 03, 2009, 06:53:26 PM
With the ongoing Ritual flame fest at the other domain, personal motives bubble to the surface. The band's rep has alluded several times to two central ideals: popularity and money. These motives, the processing within the musician, must influence if not essentially shape the artistic or entertainment output the individual offers us. Can a producer of work reveal for everyone, via third party analysis or interrogation, an objective quality of their output? I'm seeing it for myself as a non-participant.
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Eleison on September 07, 2009, 07:45:51 AM
1. All things have quality; if not physical, quality of organization and truthfulness (correspondence to reality).
2. If Beethoven were played on a kazoo, it would still be good; thus, aesthetic surface qualities are irrelevant (production, voice, etc).
3. We can measure the degree of complexity, complexity of phrase, use of musical elements, etc., and finally derive artistic meaning.
4. Complexity and aesthetics in art are driven by this expression of artistic meaning.
5. Therefore, that which has artistic meaning is going to have quality.

1.  Complexity and logicity of organization is of course secondary to the underlying, less tangible, spirit of a work.  Otherwise Boulez would be a better composer than Beethoven.  Of course trying to discuss non-tangibles in other forums will end in tears.
2.  The structure of a work includes timbre, the sound of an instrument is determined by mathematical relationships between frequencies, therefore instrumentation is not irrelevant.
3, 4 ,5.  To my mind artistic meaning is immediate, whilst complexity of structure is an academic concern.  Sure there is good music which is structurally intricate, and all good music is structurally coherent, but the complexity of organization on the surface does not in my opinion make the piece valid.  There are many underlying factors which go to make up the artistic character of a piece of music, and although all music based on traditional melodic modes has an inbuilt mathematical coherence, these factors are still not evident except to the ear. 

Sorry if my last point was slightly convoluted, shouldn't post when I'm drinking :)
Title: Re: Objective quality of music
Post by: Conservationist on September 16, 2009, 10:39:07 AM
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My inner refinement is revealed by my altogether genuine and natural pleasure in Brahms while your innate vulgarity is inevitable and unavoidably revealed by your unthinking joy in Coldplay.

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/ideology-and-aesthetics/

In praise of "unconscious tastes." For example, while I identify with metal, if not guided by some other force (social interaction, Asphyx withdrawal) I will probably select classical music for my listening pleasure.