The Philosophy of Music

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by MrsDoyle, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. MrsDoyle

    MrsDoyle Supporting Member

    Just lately a friend and I have been discussing the 'philosophy' of music - which I have, on the whole, found deeply interesting - especially studying the questions and experiences of it we all have.

    Obviously, everyone on this site has a love of music and its meaning to all of us is a deeply personal thing, so I was wondering what your philosophy is where music is concerned, what it means to you and what your view on what music should be is.

    Should be a very interesting discussion.
  2. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    Interesting subject.

    Music is one of the most fundementals of life. So it will be, also, a very personal subject. It gets right inside of you, infact, dare | say it, into the very soul of humanity.

    The philosophy of music is the study of fundemental questions about the nature of music and how we perceive it too. I would be in teresting to see other people's reactions on this wide subject and any interjections of tmp mebers arguements.
  3. jockinafrock

    jockinafrock Active Member

    When all about me is awry I know I always have my music, and in particular my banding, to hang on to. There's a great deal to be gained from music - I have pieces I like to play/listen to dependent on what mood I'm in, and I believe there has been quite some research into this as well. Wasn't it on telly recently? :confused:

    Like BBM said, there are times when music justs gets to the very bottom of your boots and infiltrates every part of you. It's such an emotive thing at times, and evokes a spectrum of responses in me. Right now I'm having a hard time in a new job, and wondering what to do for the best... Maudling as it may appear, the slushy sonorous banding pieces are my lifeline at the moment and keeping me just clear of the doldrums :cry:
  4. jrshimmon

    jrshimmon Member

    I was sat in an my SA band Practice this last Thursday and a member was doing the 'God Spot' at the end and she was using the importance of music to all of us as a theme to her thoughts.

    The thought that sticks in my head is that it is completely entangled in everyones lives even if the person is not a musician. I think it makes really good music even more important or you could get lost in the background noise which is the soundtrack to our lives.

    It seems to be especially important sat here watching the performances on Xfactor tonight.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  5. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    Music is an area rich in philosophical enquiry, with serious contributions from (amongst others)Theodore Adorno, Roger Scruton as well as Schoppenhaur and Nietzsche.
    Music is important because it say things that can only be said and understood in music, if they could be said in words then we would use words.
    For Schoppenhaur (who was the most pessimistic of philosophers) only death and music allowed man an escape from a life of a continually swinging pendulum of pain and boredom, and was the closest man can approach to the mind of God.
    Sounds quite heavy, and we may not think in these terms at band practice, but there are people out there who take it that seriously.
  6. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Can't imagine anyone believes that the performances on X-factor have anything to do with music, never mind philosophy ...
  7. jrshimmon

    jrshimmon Member

    My point exactly! I sit there every year thinking this is all hype.
  8. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I've never fully understood why I like music.... and I hope I never do, because the magic of not knowing why something appeals is half the fun of it.

    I heard Tomas Luis de Victoria's 'O sacrum convivium' a 6 on the radio a couple of months ago - and must confess until that moment I'd no idea the chap had even existed. But his music reached out, and something in it really struck me. I loved the piece instantly.

    Isn't it brilliant that nearly 400 years after he died, he can still reach out and tap someone like me on the shoulder? And that rather than looking at it as a snapshot into the past, like one might do with a book or a painting, I could actually connect with the music and feel some of the soul he put into it when he wrote it.

    Tell me one other thing that can do that!
  9. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    nothig else Andi. This is a thread that we all need to talk, sometimes quite heavy stuff. Which ion these illiustrious forums we do not cover so much. Although at this moment in writing I am rather tired, just coming back from a contest, I hope to provide some insight into this great spectrum of ideas.
  10. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Daniel, whenever I hear someone saying "What is your musical philosophy?" I immediately think "Bull****ter!"

    Sorry, I've been at the pop.
  11. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    A few off the cuff thoughts:

    Music is the only art form which you create anew by participating in it. You interact with a piece of music far more than you do with a picture, statue or book.

    Music allows a complete escape from the day-to-day mundanities of life - to truly concentrate on rehearsing or performing a piece of music requires the full participation of the entire brain, to the exclusion of just about everythning else.

    Music is the ultimate lingua franca - you could sit in a band tomorrow with players from all over the world, not speak a word of each others' language but still create music with them.
  12. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Following from your point about it being a language, Andy - The same piece of music says different things to different people - But what never ceases to amaze me is how it can say different things to the same person as well, depending on their mood, where the are, how they feel and a million other factors.

    It's never the same twice, because it relies so much on our own perception - and we as people are always changing.
  13. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    whilst music shares some of the features of language, I am not really certain that it can be a language. If what music says could be said in words, then we would not need music, once said in music, it can only be understood in music, and everyone who listens does so with different ears and so it means different things to different people, which means it can't really be a language, but it is none the less amazing for that.
  14. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    The word "language" probably doesn't express quite accurately enough what I meant - although technically I didn't use it ;)

    What I meant was, it would be possible for players from Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, UK, etc. to play in a band together without sharing a common language, but sharing a common understanding of music. It's a means of breaking down barriers that lanhuahe creates.
  15. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    I absolutely agree with you on that, but such a thing is also shared by sports and other arts.
    Music is something different and quite special as a human expression of something that cannot be expressed or understood in any other way, and yes it does transcend spoken languages in the way you suggest.
  16. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Music was my first love and it will be my last. Music of the future and music of the past. To live without my music would be impossible to do. In this world of troubles, my music pulls me through. :oops:
  17. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    It is a great way of expressing what music means to you as an individual, the purpose of philosohpy is to enquire as to why music, rather than anything else, or to a greater extent than anything else does that for you.
    That, as Charles Ives put it, is the unanswered question. Perhaps it is also an unanswerable question and we should just be glad that it does what it does, but it should never stop us asking the question and exploring what music says to us and why it moves us so.
  18. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    I feel perhaps we won't ever find THE answer as it means different things to different people.

    As a listener I definitely have an 'emotional' and 'academic' ear.

    The first generally relates music to things in my own life... so songs from good times and bad have a memory attached to them, regardless of my critical opinion of the music. And so I sometimes seek to hear music that is 'bad' to my other ear because it is associated with a postive memory for me.

    What I crave academically is almost completely opposite. I appreciate economy and simplicity (not minimalism, just music with a single point to make and no extra decorations) in writing and am often switched off by emotionally dense music (Wagner, Mahler, Emo Bands!). I find performers who can take really simple, plain writing and make it come to life without adding loads of drama incredible.
  19. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    That's a very good point marc. How many of us have a song that's forever assocaited with leaving school, or pasing your driving test or your first girlfriend or something?

    I know half my record collection has certain links like that..... (And as Nethers will attest to, that's a fair size collection!)

    There are few things in life that remind you of a certain time or event in your past with more facility than a song.
  20. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    Music is the only "language", that can really touch at the human heart. No other art form, or any other form, can do this the way music can. It can certainly pull at the emotions. This is what matters most, as far as the human pscyhe, is concerned.

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