Music as philosphy

Is not music the ultimate form of philosophy? Does it not embody everything we wish to say but can not communicate. I would say the same about art but, i once had the most curious expierince; I was in the Met and looking at an impressionist painting it was of apples I don’t rember the artist but those of you know art it was the guy that mostly painted fruits and he was one of the few non french impressionists, anyways as i was looking at the painting i was overcome my a sense of beauty and then it struck me I dont even like apples the painting was so much bettter than the reality no apple could ever look that good.

pythagoras thought so. then came socrates. then came aristotle (plato doesnt count, having never published :smiley:)
then came the scholastics (plotin doesnt count cause i never got to read him much)
then came a bunch of crap then came descartes, laplace, kant, locke, the pesky untranslatable germans
the united states never came… talk about an erection

all in all, you are on the right road.

The first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth, Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna,” and the opening strains of Strauss’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra” speak more eloquently about man’s place in the universe than Plato et al could ever hope to.

And the Met is the best museum on the continent. The closest I’ve ever come to believing in divinity was staring at Monet’s brush strokes.

Well, I’d agree with you if you say that music is a form of philosophy (just as language, art, and science are also forms of philosophy), but I would not say that it is the highest form of philosophy.

On the contrary, music is more carnal than it is cerebral. Music is not a process of thought as much as it is a physical sensation.

…just my humble opinions, anyway. :wink:

Is the carnal more rudimentary to the mind than anything else? Is it not more trustworthy

Great minds often require music to keep the mind stable. It can help save us or maintain almost any emotional feeling. It is both physical through the instrumentals, and mental through lyrics. A truly remarkable feeling, normally becoming essential.

It all depends who you are, in example, I cannot discern words or stories from music, for all I can tell is emotion. I don’t think that I am dissabled, but rather I believe that music is an expression of oneself, and expression of what one feels when he experiences something, not neccassarily ‘philosophy’, I beileve that correctly spoken philosophy, that which comes directly from the heart and mind and soul is the highest form of music.

I disagree with that, but then I suppose it all depends on the type of music you are listening to. I remember there is a scene in Hesse’s “Steppenwolf” in which the main character is having a conversation with the musician, I believe his name was Pablo, and they are discussing the difference between divine music (apollonian) and carnal music (dionysian) The main character asserts that there is music that is timeless and universal, and that it will be as well loved 200 years from now as it is today, because it speaks to the soul, and Pablo counters by saying, it does not matter, I am a musician and my sole goal is to give pleasure to those that listen to me play, and it matters not if the song that I play today is forgotten in two months, and no one wants to hear it anymore, for I lived that song today, and people lived through dancing to it. Or something like that. I read it awhile ago.

Countless times I have been listening to a piece of music, and I have been propelled into vistas of thought. In those moments I am never truly concious of listening to or hearing anything but yet the music itself is the hand which guides my thinking. To me that is the opposite of carnality, but there is a lot of music out there and the majority of it probably spawns emotions which are sexual/sensual in nature.

If music is philosophy it is the ideal within the harmony, and the yearning for greater understanding.

music is nothing more than a trigger to get us to think in a different way. music is not the ultimate form of philosophy. music is instead a modifier for our thought process.

let me quote here
philosophy is

you see, philosophy is thought. music is self expression through sound. it may contribute to thought, but it is not thought itself. it is sound, and sound does not have thought. so as i have said, music is not philosophy at all

I agree with you vlad.

I’ve heard this before…the idea that music is required, profound, expresses that which can’t be expressed other ways, the true form of expressions, etc. I’m sorry but I think it’s all nonsense. And I love music, don’t get me wrong. I have a degree in music composition and play all instruments, write songs, etc. I studied the historical giants, analysed the manuscripts, revelled in their beauty and genius. But I tell you, it’s JUST MUSIC. It is not communication. Try telling someone even the simplest thing, to pick up an apple, through music alone. It’s impossible. Music can be emotional, but the images and thoughts it conjures in the listeners vary tremendously. Basically you have rules, and then artists make their way through these rules in novel, creative ways. Sometimes a little story is told, but the profoundity is not in the music, it’s in what you bring to it. One person might hear a story about redemption, another might hear a story about the little motif that could. It’s the complete opposite of reliable communication. You wanna know what good communication is? Talking. Writing. That’s where the goods are. You don’t see us on ILP communicating via xylophone very often. Why? Cause music is JUST MUSIC. Constipated elitists use “classical music” to make them feel subtle and complex. Maybe they should just cry or fuck, or get in a fight, call their mom. Reading into the Wagner or Stravinsky instrumentals is like searching for flavor in es cargo. It’s a sauteed MUCUS SLUG. Get over it you pretentious baby.

This just has to be some of the worst idiotic shit I’ve ever read.

Monad, calm down. My point is that not only is music not philosophy, it’s not a lot of things. And I think the ability to find beauty in high art can sometimes be a perverse, unnatural phenomenon. It leads to Webern. I’m not denying it can bring pleasure, but it’s a sad day when the only way to derive pleasure is to listen to Schoenberg’s hells bells, violins suckling on Chaos’s dead cancer. And if Mozart was so great, people wouldbe lapping it up. And we both know what people ARE lapping up, and it ain’t merely because of marketing. Fact is, most people find program music and “high art” boring and irrelevant. Mature, overeducated, jaded and wealthy people will like Mozart, Debussy, Prokofiev, sure, but a good many of them are far more enamoured with the IDEA of liking this music than actually liking it…and for good reason. It pales in comparison with what music has evolved into…something simpler and more infectious, more sugar, less tannins, addressing our needs, not the needs of Monarchs and aristocrats who fuck horses and chop people’s heads off. Wagner makes a great movie soundtrack, but compared to the narrative and the film, the music is window-dressing. Go ahead, cultivate a taste for opera…iut will take years of hard labor. If you’re a masochistic jaded prudish wimp with mean or indifferent parents you have a genuine shot at it.

Wait I didnt nessesarily mean only classical music

I know. many of the composers I mentioned are from the Romantic, Impressionistic, Expressionistic, Modern and Postmodern schools. Whether you mean Indian Flute music, Brian Eno or clip hop, jazz…anyway without these “higher” forms you’re left with pop music. And I don’t think these are philosophy either, at least not the music parts alone. The lyrics, maybe.

Music, at best, sets a mood. Maybe it’s a good way to deliver a poem, like a Bob Dylan song.

…just came home; read your reply and the only question I have is "were you actually born on THIS planet or what has “classical music done to ruin your life?”

I already warmed up to Mozart, etc. when I was 9 or 10 years old, when I wasn’t “sophisticated” yet, didn’t have the opportunity to “fuck horses” or “chop peoples head off”. My parents knew crap-all about “classical music”. It was me and only me that PERVERTED myself at a very young age listening to the radio; and in the process, perverted them because they started to like it as well and a lot! It may come as a surprise to you but I never actually thought of fucking horses among interesting activities when I listen to - just one tiny example - Mozart’s C minor mass.

…and I thought Whitlotus was sick in the head!

Monad, I’m not attacking you or anyone. Relax already, can’t you handle differing opinions? My opinons may suffer some fallacies because I’m ranting from the hip. If you don’t like it, ignore it. Don’t compare to me whitelotus. You’re being a big baby.

There are exceptions to the rule like Monad, people who like classical music in a genuine way, and I happen to be one of them. But the rule is that people like pop music first…only the rare breed will gravitate to so-called “higher” art. I still maintain that today, a Who rock song is more of a “listening experience,” and Mozart is far closer to wallpaper. And since Glassgallow was probably not referring to modern pop bands when he opined music might be a philosophy, as such I built my argument, which i admit is full of generalizations, but not without important grains of truth, at least for me, which is all that is required in a post – to write what is true for oneself, especially when it’s put forth as an opinion. My original point is that music isn’t the best form of communication. verbal communication is the “opposable” thumb in the game of expression. Music is like the facial expression, at best. You can communicate a broad range, but no specific detail can be accurately conveyed. Music is also highly nostalgic, it’s extremely subjective, and that’s no basis for reliable philosophy or communication. I CAN conceive of music being a better form of communication in certain contrived situations, just like a facial expression can convey more than words, but usually in the realm of emotion, which is one small part of communication and has a minimal role in philosophy.

Unlike whitelotus I have feelings you know. if you really disagree, teach me something. And don’t be so afraid to admit you fuck horses. I don’t judge.

whoever thought that music and philosophy could cause such hatred…?

you both have points, monad naturally found a love of classical music, good effort, but there is a common breed of people who listen to classical music because its pretentious and makes them feel better, as in more intelligent… etc, its a snobby art at worst.
it’s obvious that the music of the moment is R’n’B ichh!!! which i hate but more and more rock is creeping in. i personally feel that the music that expresses the most is the rock the punk, its usually not marketed as such, its personal and it can be quite moving. i say this but actually when it comes to album sales rock does better, just it would appear singles aren’t the thing with rock fans, maybe cos rock albums don’t just have one good released song??

music can be philosophy, it depends on the writer and the artist, or it can be pop, which tends to be based around creating catchy tunes, and singles that people will buy… but when music is philosophy it is as someone said earlier, “the highest form of music”

Okay, in this sense, you are right. Carnal was probably not the most accurate word I could have used.

What I mean is, music can be dived into two catagories:

  1. Music that is listened to for the rythm or tune (the “feeling” that music give you; not necessarily listen to for the actual lyrics).


  1. Music that is listened to for the meaning of its lyrics

The lyrics to the music that a band such as Korn or Black Saboth produces, to me, is what I call “carnal”. It does not bring harmony, and the lyrics are quite lude, if you ask me.

Bach, or Mozart, on the otherhand, wrote symphonies with the intentions of acheiving an overall sense of harmony.

Lastly, I’d argue that a large majority listen to music for these reasons:

We like the tune
its trendy
we feel we can relate to the lyrics (although the lyrics often convey a negative experience)

I’m sure that there could be several of you that actually listen to music for the meaning of the words, but do you really get harmony out of what you listen? :wink:

Is music philosophy?

Obviously it is not in the most direct sense. Vlad and Gamer are correct. But a better question might be, a question that may come closer to what Glasgallow was considering when he started this thread, “Does music, any music not just classical or other forms which are created with the intent to propel one through artful mastery of artifice into higher consideration of the human condition, have any aspect that may be considered philosophical?”

What can one learn from music outside of the technical side of composing or playing? What can one learn from music by simply listening? Can one learn philosophical ideas from music? The answer to the last question is no. But if one already understands enough philosophical ideas can music help you in your understanding? The best answer to that I can give is maybe. Perhaps it all depends on ones grasp of the metaphysical. To be honest I don’t really know. Because music is a very personal expirience as Gamer stated somewhere above, although he made that statement in very different words. This is the passage I am refering to.

Gamer wrote:
“Music can be emotional, but the images and thoughts it conjures in the listeners vary tremendously. Basically you have rules, and then artists make their way through these rules in novel, creative ways. Sometimes a little story is told, but the profoundity is not in the music, it’s in what you bring to it.”

Very true. I am in complete agreement. But what if you are capable of bringing some small substance of the philosophical to your listening. Is there still a very definate line drawn between the two, and if this is the case, is it safe to say that music can help philosophy, but never become philosophical?

Gamer, if you care to, would explain to me your reasons for this statement:
“And I think the ability to find beauty in high art can sometimes be a perverse, unnatural phenomenon. It leads to Webern. I’m not denying it can bring pleasure, but it’s a sad day when the only way to derive pleasure is to listen to Schoenberg’s hells bells, violins suckling on Chaos’s dead cancer.”

I’m not entirely sure what you mean in the first two sentences. I know Webern’s music well, and am curious to know where the value judgement you sound like your making comes from.

BMW, I bet your a big fan of Nelly. Am I right :stuck_out_tongue: No but seriously, after having a day to sit and reflect, or maybe to become more reasonable, I do think you were absolutely right about…

" Music is not a process of thought as much as it is a physical sensation."

I think the highest value that, at least, I can attain from music is an emotional reaction, which is definately a physical sensation. Music usually makes me more determined to utilize the day when I actually listen well.

“According to Paul Ricoeur, the “principal ambition” characterising Husserl’s phenomenology of internal time-consciousness is that of “making time itself appear”.”

Making “time itself appear”, is exactly what music does. Rather than, can music be like philosophy, perhaps one should ask, can philosophy ever be like music.