what is music?

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what is music?

Postby embodied1974 » Tue Sep 19, 2006 6:26 am

...and why does it have the effect on humans that it does?

i asked this question to a bunch of my musician friends a number of years ago, and they just kind of stared at me or gave uninteresting answers. i'm wondering if anyone around here has any opinions on the subject. here are some questions that have popped up in my mind:

what is it about the rythmic, repeating or cyclical nature of music that we find pleasing?

why don't most animals respond to music?

what is it that we find pleasurable about music?
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Postby OK Computer » Tue Sep 19, 2006 6:48 am

Well, humans adore music so much because we adore repetition... kind of like enjoying your comfort zone. There are algorithms and sequences in music that we grow to expect and enjoy because they hit at exactly the right moment we know them to. It's largely a mathematical thing.
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Postby monad » Tue Sep 19, 2006 7:51 am

what is it about the rythmic, repeating or cyclical nature of music that we find pleasing?
...nature itself repeats sounds. It has a regularity. The sound of animals, rain, thunder, etc. The vast cycles and seasons of nature can also convey the essence of sound. Myth and music are merely the 'transcriptions' of these. We have been exposed to this for much longer than to our own creations. Music is the mathematical and emotional representation of a kind of onomatopoeia. In short, its part of our DNA.


why don't most animals respond to music?
...what gave you this idea? If plants, as proven respond to music why shouldn't animals. They do just not on the same level. It's extremely likely that they enjoy some Mozart much more than you as long as it's not the Hell scene from Don Giovanni. If a tree can read 85% of your DNA why shouldn't animals have some sort of reciprocal relationship with music?


what is it that we find pleasurable about music?
...harmony as we understand it whether it be in embedded in sound, a mineral or a landscape, etc. Again, it is a reflection of the world - as we are! Of course, there is much more that can be said on the subject! For example, the "fractal" aspect of music and nature. Often in myth and sometimes it seems even in Quantum Theory itself music is the blueprint of everything that exists!
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Postby eugene » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:19 am

That's a fascinating subject which I also don't understand. I would really love to read an article about it, but I couldn't find one.

I generally agree with monad tho. It's probably the winds, the rain, etc...
However it seems weird that we should like these sounds. After all neither wind nor rain helped our prehistorical ancestors in survival. If anything we should hate these sounds.

Animals do like music. Usually farmers let cows listen to classical music when they milk them. It improves the results.

Yet the music our civilization invented is an abomination of nature. It uses the same mechanism that enjoys the voices of birds and rain, and mutilates it with artificial loud constantly changing sounds.

It seems like the more complex the sounds system is, the more we compelled to hear it. I have no idea whatsoever why complex and shifting dynamics helped our survival 20,000 years ago. Maybe the noise of many insects and birds attracted us then as potential prey.
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Re: what is music?

Postby Assertivelass » Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:54 pm

I think what is so wonderful about music is that its a powerful medium that everyone can connect with. It brings out our emotions and feelings sometimes without us even realising it. It has the ability to reach our hearts and souls, it is story telling with ryhthmn. For me music is therapeutic, often I hear a song and it will bring back a memory from my past, I can listen to music that everyone else can too, but I can still make it my own because of how I interpret it. To this day I only have to hear a particular piece of music and I can be in tears from happiness or sadness.

As the tempo in music changes from either fast to slow, so do our emotions..one minute we can be all excited from it & the next minute calm.

A lot of people have difficulty in talking their feelings out to another person, so when they find a song they can identify with, that focus on issues that are affecting them at that moment it can be an empowering experience. It can be a great motivator, it can make us feel good about ourselves.

Most babies are sung lullabies from birth, not only because its soothing for the child but its also repetitious & through repetition we learn.

And as far as animals relating to music..from my personal experience, many years ago I worked with race horses, we played music to them constantly or had the radio on... we actually found the horses were calmer & more relaxed on race days, and weren't as frightened by the noise & excitement of the track. They were pre-conditioned to noise & sound through music.

Turn that stereo up, feel the rythmn and Enjoy!!!
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Postby BrazenBull » Tue Sep 19, 2006 2:35 pm

You might find this article interesting- I stumbled upon it recently by way of aldaily.com.
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2006/09/03/survival_of_the_harmonious/?page=full
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Postby Ierrellus » Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:20 pm

Music is mathematics with a voice. Pythagoras got it right.
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Postby Justly » Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:27 pm

Music is the only language everybody can understand. You can speak your native tongue and people cannot understand you. But play music and everybody understand.
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Postby eugene » Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:31 pm

Excellent link.
I tend agree with Steven Pinker in that article.
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Postby eugene » Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:34 pm

Justly wrote:Music is the only language everybody can understand. You can speak your native tongue and people cannot understand you. But play music and everybody understand.


What's that supposed to mean? If I want to convey a message I should do this with music? How? Maybe Bethoven's 7th symphony really means: "Look, there is a rabbit!" ???

And in prehistorical times there was only one language, the language of the clan. As a member of the clan you would never meet members of other clans.

So your theory is absurd.
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Postby Lollipop King » Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:45 pm

Interesting.

This is how I see it, in brief.

First proposition
Patterns
The brain is a forager of patterns.
It is an ordering biological tool.
The mind is its projection in time/space.

As such it is attracted to patterns and order.
The brain can only comprehend what it can store and analyze.
Storage requires ordering (Cataloguing, Categorizing).
Ordering the confusing or chaotic or complicated demands simplification/generalization.

We create approximations to efficiently act. We understand by finding a pattern and extrapolating the entirety.


Second proposition
Resistance

The path of least resistance implies that repetition lessens resistances creating habituation and experience.
We are drawn to the familiar because a neural pathway, once established, is more easily reused, rather than replaced.
Continuous use makes something familiar and easy.

This attraction to the familiar creates behavioral patterns resulting in thinking, species or culture.


Third Proposition
Energy

Energy is a resonating activity.
It is action/movement manifesting or universal flux.
Matter is resonating energy at a specific tone, making it more or less substantial in relation to our sensual acuity.


Fourth Proposition
Music
Music is a sound exhibiting patterns and repetition.
Otherwise it is called noise.
It is energy made audible.


Conclusion
The familiarity of the pattern makes it attractive.
It awakens remembrance by stimulating neural pathways which might have become forgotten or by harmonizing with our own energies it can imitate our becoming.

This is why music can be emotional and exhibit psychosomatic effects.
We are energy and so the vibrations are intimate to our becoming.
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Postby Ierrellus » Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:19 pm

Satyr,
=D> Right on the mark!
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Postby Mastriani » Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:22 pm

Energy is a matter of harmonic vibration.

Sound of recognizable wavelength, has an harmonic that we associate with our own, therefore we find it pleasing.

Music is such a harmonic. Vibration, energy, harmonics, life.

Music expresses a wavelength of life.

Mathematical expressions of such, are rudiments, only usable in the micro perspective.
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Postby Justly » Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:30 pm

eugene wrote:
Justly wrote:Music is the only language everybody can understand. You can speak your native tongue and people cannot understand you. But play music and everybody understand.


What's that supposed to mean? If I want to convey a message I should do this with music? How? Maybe Bethoven's 7th symphony really means: "Look, there is a rabbit!" ???

And in prehistorical times there was only one language, the language of the clan. As a member of the clan you would never meet members of other clans.

So your theory is absurd.


====================

Listen to the music, there's happy music, melancholy music, music that makes you laugh, cry, shout, dance, there's music for funerals, parties, weddings, military, religious, national anthem, etc, name it, there's a kind of music that everybody understands. Ceremonial drums, intonations, incantations, hand clapping, these are musical sound to another one's ears. We don't have to have a common tongue to understand music. We know music when we hear it. It is a universal language.
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Postby Ierrellus » Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:52 pm

Mastriani,
Pythagoras couldn't have said it better!
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Postby ChimneySweep » Tue Sep 19, 2006 6:51 pm

Schopenhauer's ideas on this subject are worth reading, in "The World as Will and Representation" Vol's 1 & 2 (one section in volume).
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Postby heavenly_demonic » Tue Sep 19, 2006 7:11 pm

monad wrote:For example, the "fractal" aspect of music and nature. Often in myth and sometimes it seems even in Quantum Theory itself music is the blueprint of everything that exists!


I've always felt that, but never actually concieved it intellectually...
what makes you think that music seems to be the blueprint of everything that exists?.

also, what is the 'fractal' aspect of music and nature? :cry: I don't know any science... :cry:
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Re: what is music?

Postby Jakob » Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:45 pm

I think our music is based on the rythmic recurrence of increasingly dramatic harmonies. The key word being dramatic - different musical keys correspnd to different emotions. We westerners have the Pythagorean system which is based on the golden mean, which is the balance of equal growth, the methematical key to the buildup of substance without losing balance. (A rams horn)

In primitive cultures, music simply had the aim of exiting people and purging them through sweat. This is still mostly the use of music among the populace - easy harmonies to ease the mind and a steady beat to get the blood going.

On the other hand there is Bach. I believe what makes him and all lesser composers great is the cosmic spectacle unfolded in the comprehension of paradimensional consequence expressed in sound, which is, of course what we mad men in our cavities of reverberation consider to be the cosmic substance.

Reid.Oda wrote:.
what is it about the rythmic, repeating or cyclical nature of music that we find pleasing?

It's interaction with and correspondence to all we feel when we feel we 'ourselves', which is the direct awareness of our DNA.

Reid.Oda wrote:.
why don't most animals respond to music?


Most animals depend too much on their hearing to allow a luxury such as music to keep their attention away fron the bare necessities, which will keep them alive.
The same reason people usually abstain from strong hallicunogens during work hours.

Reid.Oda wrote:.
what is it that we find pleasurable about music?


Music = pleasurable to us
pleasurable to us = music

it is music we find pleasurable about music.
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Postby heavenly_demonic » Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:34 am

has any of u heard of musicology? it studies what this thread talks about...

I don't understabnd something though... how come some accords correspond to emotions? I mean... can u give examples? cause I feel more like a SONG porttrays an emotion but that song is made up of many different notes...
also, I don't think i've ever felt any emotion by hearing a random note...
i just feel emotions by songs.

and also, what does the golden mean have to do=? please do explain, I'm a dummy when it comes to anything mathlike.
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Postby embodied1974 » Sat Sep 23, 2006 6:15 am

BrazenBull wrote:You might find this article interesting- I stumbled upon it recently by way of aldaily.com.
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2006/09/03/survival_of_the_harmonious/?page=full


that article is really interesting. however, as an lifelong musician i have to think that people who say musicians make music to attract the opposite sex have a bit of a skewed perspective. yes, it's a nice side effect and many people do make music to get attention, but largely i don't see that as the driving purpose. most of the musicians i know will do to bed happy after a night of playing. if anything, it's a substitute for sex.

the talk of pattern recognition really speaks to me. this is something that i've thought a lot about. obviously the predictability of the patterns plays a lot into music appreciation. some people like very stock, common patterns. other people don't enjoy anthing but the most obscure, most unrepeating compositions.

i was reading an essay called "if man is to be man" by perry pascarella the other day. in it he says that scientific exploration is a natural continuation of our evolution. we gained a large brain size, became self aware, and now we explore the universe. i wonder if music tickles our pattern recognizing curiosity in a much more 'realtime' sort of way.
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Postby embodied1974 » Sat Sep 23, 2006 6:18 am

wow. well put. to add, i feel that there is some essential balance between the familiar pattern and unfamiliar trimmings or modifications to the pattern that generates an emotional response.

Satyr wrote:Interesting.

This is how I see it, in brief.

First proposition
Patterns
The brain is a forager of patterns.
It is an ordering biological tool.
The mind is its projection in time/space.

As such it is attracted to patterns and order.
The brain can only comprehend what it can store and analyze.
Storage requires ordering (Cataloguing, Categorizing).
Ordering the confusing or chaotic or complicated demands simplification/generalization.

We create approximations to efficiently act. We understand by finding a pattern and extrapolating the entirety.


Second proposition
Resistance

The path of least resistance implies that repetition lessens resistances creating habituation and experience.
We are drawn to the familiar because a neural pathway, once established, is more easily reused, rather than replaced.
Continuous use makes something familiar and easy.

This attraction to the familiar creates behavioral patterns resulting in thinking, species or culture.


Third Proposition
Energy

Energy is a resonating activity.
It is action/movement manifesting or universal flux.
Matter is resonating energy at a specific tone, making it more or less substantial in relation to our sensual acuity.


Fourth Proposition
Music
Music is a sound exhibiting patterns and repetition.
Otherwise it is called noise.
It is energy made audible.


Conclusion
The familiarity of the pattern makes it attractive.
It awakens remembrance by stimulating neural pathways which might have become forgotten or by harmonizing with our own energies it can imitate our becoming.

This is why music can be emotional and exhibit psychosomatic effects.
We are energy and so the vibrations are intimate to our becoming.
embodied1974
 

Postby Lollipop King » Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:09 pm

This is why I found Schopenhauer’s ideas concerning the Will and music to be fascinating and so beautifully correct.

It is in the spaces, between notes, in the silence where the Nothingness seeps through, linking the chiming Becoming, wanting to Be.

Interesting how in science we now speak of vibrating superstrings.

Another thing to consider is why we find flawed music, as opposed to computer generated, flawless music more appealing.

One more thing.

The idea of ‘the path of least resistance’ is one which, I believe, hides some interesting connections to human behavior and to natural phenomena, in general.

Is the genetic code, the encoding of pre-established familiar pathways particular Becomings took along their history?
Is this how species come to be?

If so then reason can only become free, or more free, by breaking away from the cycle and by choosing the ‘path less taken’.

Is reason challenged to cut through the jungle a new path and resist treading over what it is comfortable and familiar with?

Is this not intellect versus instinct in a nutshell?
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Postby Ierrellus » Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:38 pm

One needs only to consider the effects sound vibrations have on both plants (Google sensitive plants) and animals to appreciate tone as soothing or discomforting. My cat hates it when I play harmonica. The sound probably causes pain in the internal structures of his ears. Yet he hears my soothing tones of speech and responds gratefully.
The mystery is why, even among plants and animals, some sounds are euphonious and some are cacaphonious.
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Postby heavenly_demonic » Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:57 pm

what is cacophnous and what is the other thingy? euphonous? sorry 4 the misspelling... :o
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Re: what is music?

Postby Jakob » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:14 pm

embodied1974 wrote:...and why does it have the effect on humans that it does?

i asked this question to a bunch of my musician friends a number of years ago, and they just kind of stared at me or gave uninteresting answers. i'm wondering if anyone around here has any opinions on the subject. here are some questions that have popped up in my mind:

what is it about the rythmic, repeating or cyclical nature of music that we find pleasing?

why don't most animals respond to music?

what is it that we find pleasurable about music?

Because "the spirit of music" is a tautology, music gives us the capacity to move forward. Music or grinding stones.

Music reveals to us the world of the soul, the experience of higher values, things we can magically discern inside the mere sounds of voices or copper or stretched animal skin - this is why the melody of the wind pipe is so haunting, it is at once spiritus, (breath) and Geist (spirit). We discern only what we are. Music is a mirror. Did you know this before?

"Let me say again: today for me it is an impossible book. I call it something poorly written, ponderous, painful, with fantastic and confused imagery, here and there so saccharine it is effeminate, uneven in tempo, without any impulse for logical clarity, extremely self−confident and thus dispensing with evidence, even distrustful of the relevance of evidence, like a book for the initiated, like “Music" for those baptized in music, those who are bound together from the start in secret and esoteric aesthetic experiences, a secret sign recognized among artistic blood relations, an arrogant and rhapsodic book, which right from the start hermetically sealed itself off from the profane vulgarity of the “intelligentsia” even more than from the “people,” but a book which, as its effect proved and continues to prove, must also understand enough of this issue to search out its fellow rhapsodists and tempt them to new secret paths and dancing grounds." - N (The Birth of Tragedy, opening)
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