Music Philosophy Debate #2

Music has always been a part of our lives on this planet, it has played an important role in the development of our species. I touched on the way that music can have feelings attached to it in debate #1.

Today I am going to explore the universal language of music a little deeper…

In a radio interview, Peter Kivy, (Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University) was asked “to explain how the non-representational art of music, especially wordless music, can produce such passionate emotional responses in people.” He then stated that he “believes that it doesn’t! Or, at least, that the emotions evinced by music are not the garden variety emotions, but rather a specific love and enthusiasm for the music, an emotional response which does not really have a name. Kivy argues this point through the distinction of good and bad sad music, and how good sad music arouses a stronger feeling of sadness than bad sad music.”

This is an interesting concept, to say that, the music is not directly responsible for the emotional responses, but rather, the listener is responding to the music itself in the form of an emotion that seemingly is set aside exclusively for the love of music.

I don’t know that I agree with Peter, but it got me thinking… Does music play a more integral role in the human brain?

Musical training has long been an integral part of a well-rounded education at some of the best schools in the world. Einstein started learning to play the violin when his school thought he was too stupid to learn. He himself credits the violin as the reason for his genius.

Learning music and music theory helps to look at the world a different way. To truly understand music, is to understand the connection between the musician and the people listening.The true masters of music can weave a story of notes, strung together in such a way as to guide the emotions of the audience.  It is not just the technique of these people who gives them the edge, it is the way they see the music.


Music Philosophy Debate #1

Topic of debate…

How does music affect the human soul in the way that it does?  Why should it be, that a tune in a major key ‘sounds’ happy, and one in minor ‘sounds’ sad?

I understand that in any given key there are both major and minor chords, and the modes that go with them, etc… That doesn’t quite answer my question.

I am talking grass roots, back to basics, music theory.

What is it that makes the intervals between notes ‘feel’ a certain way?

Try playing a chord for your friends and measure what feeling they would attach to it. We all know that a major chord would be happy, and a minor chord would be sad. But see what they think of the Major7s and minor7b5. If you don’t play an instrument, you can find them online.

Since getting into music theory I haven’t quite worked this one out yet…Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Philosophy 101

According to philosophy, each individual interacts with their own individual world. That is to say that, a person with colour-blindness sees a red ball as green. But in a room full of colour blind people, the ball is actually green.

This is the secret of the music industry and why they control what is perceived as “good music”.

I understand that the music industry survives on selling its music. I also understand that they are selling a package, the “artists” are a commodity and they have to make them appealing to as many people as possible. But, I believe that the general public need to hear good music. Original songs, with lyrics that make sense and Rhythm, Melody and Harmony.

People like Jamie Cullum and to a lesser extent Michael Buble have gone a long way toward changing the public psyche with regards to what is good, popular music, but they will never have the same kind of backing as the more edgy, dangerous and very unhealthy people they tend to highlight.Which is a shame, because they do use genuine musicians, they can perform  live and they have spent time learning their craft.

Don’t get me wrong, I have noticed a vast increase of new bands in other genres who are genuine musicians and who I am not including in this commentary. I am focusing on more on the Pop Genre.

At the end of the day, the music companies tell the public what is good music and what is not….. So if the people in music companies genuinely love music, why not steer them toward real artists who can at least play an instrument or sing the right note.

Philosophy of music

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Philosophy of music is the study of fundamental questions regarding music. The philosophical study of music has many connections with philosophical questions in metaphysics and aesthetics. Some basic questions in the philosophy of music are:

  • What is the definition of music? (what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for classifying something as music?)
  • What is the relationship between music and mind?
  • What does musical history reveal to us about the world?
  • What is the connection between music and emotions?
  • What is meaning in relation to music?