Response to Music Philosophy Debate #1

Michelle – hmm I have asked quite a few people how they can tell the difference between minor and major chords, and they usually raise their eyebrows if I say “sad” or “happy” so I feel like it’s a Westernized convention, but as blissinger said before, some cultures have extensive dissonance and like it very much.. and don’t find minor to be depressing at all.. I think it all depends on how you are exposed to music in the different contexts.. Western composers will always use minor keys for sad things like elegies and funeral marches, so I suppose people link sad feelings with them in time :P when I listen to Gregorian chants and other things in rather dissonant keys like Mixolydian and Dorian, it all sounds rather depressing to me but people back then found it very passionate and very.. ‘happy’ and ‘inspiring’ in an uplifting way.

Michelle

Comment on Music Philosophy Debate #2

LondonJazzCollector – Music and emotion seem common bedfellows, but I I am not convinced music has the power to make you happy or sad, – it is an enhancment or accompaniment to emotions already present. A funeral march is “fitting” to our emotions of sadness and loss. Other music partners joy and happiness. I suspect you won’t cheer people up at a funeral with something jolly.

Some of us are still grappling with the idea of good and bad music. Is there such a thing as bad music, really? There is music I don’t like at this moment, and some I do, and even that changes over time. Not sure I can go further than that.

I think the problem is “Professors”. Give them a job, some empty intellectual space, and they feel obliged to fill it. But it sounds like opinion rather trhan knowledge. Ask for a measure of goodness or badness of music. That should concentrate their minds.

Gifted or stubborn?

If you play a musical instrument, you probably fall into one of two categories…Naturally gifted, or dedicated and stubborn.  And if you are very lucky, both.

There have been numerous, truly gifted musicians over the years, some of which seemingly endowed with an ability to see music a different way, or a to be able to pick up an instrument and play it. And some, who really study and become so technically proficient that it is staggers you.

Personally, I have always been attracted to musicians who seem to have a raw, or god given talent for music (or art for that matter).

Grant Green, has been one of my favourite jazz guitarists for a long time. He arrived on the Jazz circuits as a young man, and the professional musicians that he was jamming with said that the things that had taken years to study, he picked up in a matter of minutes of playing with them. Jimi Hendrix, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, too, all seemingly gifted (or cursed) with the ability to see music differently and manipulate it in a different way to everybody else.

For the rest of us who have to study, practice, and work our fingers to the bone, I have a different kind of admiration. I personally started playing late in my life and while my brain is equipped to process music, and make sense of music theory, my hands have always been my handicap. The determination of somebody for whom music doesn’t come easy is a testament to my theme, they love music so much, that they study and study, and practice and practice.

It is frustrating, even infuriating at times. You constantly strive for perfection and very rarely achieve it. Let alone the hours spent going over scales over and over again. But it is always worth it in the end! If it were easy for everyone, there would be no value in it.

History celebrates the genius composers and super gifted musicians, as they well should.  But as most people who have tried to learn an instrument will tell you, the vast majority of working musicians have spent years of there lives learning their trade.

And that, deserves as much (if not more)  respect.