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A musical performance is a much richer and more complex affair than is allowed ... What kind of musical 'object' is this? melody is 'of unknown origin' ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: MUSIC

What is it? What are its components? How does it
work? How did it develop? How do we experience
it? How do we evaluate it? Who are the great com
posers? What are the great masterpieces? Why doe
s this music matter?
What is a musical event? Whos involved, and ho
w? How do you participate? Why do you participat
e? What about the other participants? What sort
of relationships are involved?
Why does the event happen at all?
Whats at stake here? Whats really going on?
  • Music as activity

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • Character is the backbone of our human culture,
    and music is the flowering of character.
  • -- Confucius
  • … what unifies.
  • -- Seu-ma-tsen

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • … a reflected sound from a remote world.
  • -- Jean Paul
  • … a reflection of the will itself, revealing its
    very essence, whereas other arts treat but the
    shadows of the will.
  • -- Arthur Schopenhauer

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • … is well said to be the speech of angels. … It
    brings us near to the infinite.
  • -- Thomas Carlyle
  • … the vapor of art. It is to poetry what reverie
    is to thought, what fluid is to liquid, what the
    ocean of clouds is to the ocean of waves.
  • -- Victor Hugo

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • … the universal language of mankind.
  • -- Henry W. Longfellow
  • … the crystallization of sound.
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • … our myth of the inner life.
  • -- Susanne K. Langer

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • … an agreeable harmony for the honor of God and
    the permissible delights of the soul.
  • -- Johann Sebastian Bach
  • … is the electrical soil in which the spirit
    lives, thinks and invents.
  • -- Ludwig van Beethoven

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • … the inarticulate speech of the heart, which
    cannot be compressed into words, because it is
  • -- Richard Wagner
  • … an outburst of the soul.
  • -- Frederick Delius

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • … a calculation which the soul makes
    unconsciously in secret.
  • -- Gottfried von Leibnitz
  • … an order of mystic, sensuous mathematics … a
    sounding mirror, an aural mode of motion.
  • -- James Gibbons Huneker

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • … the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the
    geometry of light.
  • -- Claude Debussy
  • … natural law as related to … hearing.
  • -- Anton von Webern
  • … a system of proportions in the service of a
    spiritual impulse.
  • -- George Crumb

Music as object
MUSIC . . .
  • When you hear music, after its over, its gone
    in the air. You can never capture it again.
  • -- Eric Dolphy
  • You cant mess with peoples heads, thats for
    sure. But thats what musics all about messing
    with peoples heads.
  • -- Jimi Hendrix

Music as object
  • n. That one of the fine arts which is concerned
    with the combination of sounds with a view to
    beauty of form and the expression of emotion.
  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • n. … that one of the fine arts which appropriates
    the phenomena of sound to the purposes of
  • Encyclopedia Brittanica

Music as object
  • n. 1. the art of combining tones to form
    expressive compositions.
  • 2. such compositions.
  • 3. any rhythmic sequence of pleasing sounds.
  • Websters New World Dictionary

Music as object
  • n. 1. the art of organizing tones in a coherent
    sequence so as to produce a unified and
    continuous composition.
  • 2. vocal or instrumental sounds possessing
    rhythm, melody, and harmony.
  • 3. a. A musical composition.
  • 3. b. The written or printed score for a musical
  • 4. A musical accompaniment.
  • 5. A particular category of music.
  • 6. An aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound
    or combination of sounds.
  • The American Heritage Dictionary

Music as object
The Meaning of Performance and Listening
Christopher Small
Wesleyan University Press, 1998
Music as activity
  • Music is not a thing at all but an activity,
    something that people do. The apparent thing
    music is a figment, an abstraction of the
    action, whose reality vanishes as soon as we
    examine it at all closely. … It is very easy to
    come to think of the abstraction as more real
    than the reality it represents … . This is the
    trap of reification, and it has been a besetting
    fault of Western thinking ever since Plato, who
    was one of its earliest perpetrators. (p.

  • … A musical performance is a much richer and
    more complex affair than is allowed by those who
    concentrate their attention exclusively on the
    musical work and on its effect on an individual
    listener. If we widen the circle of our attention
    to take in the entire set of relationships that
    constitutes a performance, we shall see that
    musics primary meanings are not individual at
    all but social. These social meanings … are
    fundamental to an understanding of the activity
    that is called music. (p. 8)

  • So far as I know the word musicking does not
    appear in any English dictionary, but it is too
    useful a conceptual tool to lie unused. It is the
    present participle, or gerund, of the verb to
    music. This verb does have an obscure existence
    in some larger dictionaries, but its potential
    goes unexploited because when it does appear it
    is used to mean roughly the same as to perform
    or to make music … . I have larger ambitions
    for this neglected verb. (p. 9)

  • I have proposed this definition To music is to
    take part, in any capacity, in a musical
    performance, whether by performing, by listening,
    by rehearsing or practicing, by providing
    material for performance (what is called
    composing), or by dancing. (p. 9)

  • I have to make two things clear. The first is
    that to pay attention in any way to a musical
    performance, including a recorded performance,
    even to Muzak in an elevator, is to music. The
    second is related but needs to be stated
    separately the verb to music is not concerned
    with valuation. It is descriptive, not
    prescriptive. It covers all participation in a
    musical performance, whether it takes place
    actively or passively, whether we like the way it
    happens or not, whether we consider it
    interesting or boring, constructive or
    destructive, sympathetic or antipathetic.
    (p. 9)

  • The act of musicking establishes in the place
    where it happens a set of relationships, and it
    is in those relationships that the meaning of the
    act lies. They are to be found not only between
    those organized sounds which are conventionally
    thought of as being the stuff of musical meaning
    but also between the people who are taking part,
    in whatever capacity, in the performance and
    they model, or stand as metaphor for, ideal
    relationships as the participants in the
    performance imagine them to be … .
    (p. 13)

  • My purpose … is to propose a framework for
    understanding all musicking as a human activity,
    to understand not just how but why taking part in
    a musical performance acts in such complex ways
    on our existence as individual, social and
    political beings. … It is one of my aims in this
    book to make readers more aware of the nature of
    their theories of musicking and thus be in a
    better position to take control of their musical
    lives. (pp. 12-13)

Music as object
  • What kind of musical object is this?
  • melody is of unknown origin
  • roots of the melody traced back to 1677
  • current version resembles tune in William
    Shieldss opera Rosina (1783)
  • current version identical to Sir Alexander Dons
    Strathspey (1784)
  • words are by Robert Burns (1759-1796), published
    in 1794
  • Berliner recording dates from 1890
  • CD dates from 1988 (Symposium Records 1058)
  • transcription to cassette dates from last night
  • your hearing of it took place just a moment ago
  • your memory of the song dates from ???????

Music as object
  • from Percy Scholess The Oxford Companion to
    Music (1938)
  • Auld Lang Syne has become the ritual song of
    parting amongst the English as much as the
    Scots. All stand in a circle, and at the last
    verse take hands (with arms crossed, i.e., the
    left hand grasping the right hand of the
    neighbour on the right and the right hand
    grasping the left hand of the neighbour on the
    left) the whole circle of hands is then raised
    and dropped repeatedly and rhythmically to the
    music. The song and this custom connected with it
    shows some signs of being taken up outside the
    British Empire for instance, the Boy Scouts
    organization of Switzerland in 1934 adopted both.

Auld Lang Syne
  • 1. Should auld acquaintance be forgot
  • and never brought to mind?
  • Should auld acquaintance be forgot
  • and days of auld lang syne?
  •  For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang
  • well take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang
  • 2. And heres a hand, my trusty friend,
  • and give a hand of thine,
  • well take a cup of kindness yet,
  • for auld lang syne.
  •  For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang
  • well take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang