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  "real classical music"  ruska02 at 16:44 on 02 November 2008

Dear friends I stayed away from this forum for quite a lot because my arguments did not please many of the composers here...but as far as I see the forum is a little bit starving... and as far as I pay my subscription ad you all ...I would like to post a new challenge...so

Do you agree that is tension , that defynes the story of a composition ? That is tension opening and closing , clearly sectioned , to create a worth listening musical speech. Music, even if gains its first "stimulus" /input from our thoughts, our emotions or whatever external feeling we may experience, must be able to live of a life of its own otherwise is only soundtrack, scene music. commercial . anyway on a different level of the "supreme absolute music" our father wrote for so many years and that is so deeply rooted in our western genetic heritage and otherwise learnable with a lot of efforts and problems and never in its complete being.

Comments ?


la tensione, infatti, che disegna la storia di una composizione; sono il suo tendersi e distendersi, opportunemente sezionati, a creare il discorso musicale. La musica, anche se nasce dai nostri pensieri, dalle nostre emozioni o da qualsiasi stimolo esterno, deve poter vivere di vita propria, altrimenti solo musica di commento, musica di scena, musica da film.

  Re:  scott_good at 04:29 on 04 November 2008

hello roberto,

glad you made a post. this forum isn't about us all agreeing and being all happy about our commonality - yawn.

i mostly agree with this posting. perhaps another slightly different way of looking at this is about expectation, and the resulting tensions or relaxations created from satisfying expectation or defying it. this for me is a more artistically potent message in that it requires the composer to engage in the idea of what kinds of impacts a musical gesture makes on the listeners expectation of what will come next, and deciding what to do with that expectation.

each event, unfolding through time, effects not only it's immediate surroundings, but those that are in the distant future, and also affect our perception of what has been heard. tension can be easily created with a variety of compositional techniques, but their effectiveness, and indeed their ability to tell a great story (rather than just a sequence of varying tensions in delineated sections), rely on their ability to communicate over long distances, and create an internal syntax on which that work will relate it's ideas and poetry.

this is much more important now for composers to think about than in the past, as their is no longer a musical common practice, and hasn't been for quite some time. each work needs to create it's own "set of memories and expectations" that can be understood on it's own terms. in essence, because we lack the common language and syntax, the now composer needs to work very hard to create meaningful tension, not just tension.

but, about the genetic cultural idea, well, i have not heard of this from the world of credible science. and genetics is scientific subject, not artistic. do you have any scientific backing for such a strong statement? i would be quite interested in reading what kinds of research have been done on the subject of genetic cultural heritage. the only one i can think of who discusses this issue is noam chomsky, and he argues quite strongly to the contrary - that any person of any cultural heritage can adapt to any language (read:culture) given they are raised in that culture. so, culturally defined languages are not expressions of genetics, but rather surroundings only. or, is this really what you meant and the genetic comment was a slip of the tongue?

  Re: I strongly support the "Innate principle"  ruska02 at 20:11 on 04 November 2008

"but, about the genetic cultural idea, well, i have not heard of this from the world of credible science. and genetics is scientific subject, not artistic. do you have any scientific backing for such a strong statement? i would be quite interested in reading what kinds of research have been done on the subject of genetic cultural heritage. the only one i can think of who discusses this issue is noam chomsky,"

Thank for feedback

I obviously have , no matter what they say, I like ot start from the very new book by
david huron (MIT PRESS) ... check out what he says about the psychology of expectations... after bring a well educated japanese with no classical musical background and give him Mozart ("nice melody , he said but what is all that noise around? (harmony and counterpoint? ) ...than take my friend Ma xPlumber , no classical music background and ask him why when he helped me taking the music stands upstairs he heard Mendelsshonn Trio in D minor and said... wonderful I really like the emotion... everything is so perfect !!!!!!



  Re:  scott_good at 04:27 on 07 November 2008


i'll check the huron out and get back.

i made the final comment as the word "genetic" gets thrown around lightly, when in fact, it is an unbelievably complex word with which us humans have only scratched the surface of understanding.


  Re:  scott_good at 19:05 on 09 November 2008


thank you for sharing david huron - i have read a number of articles and lectures he has written, and he is obviously an important music science researcher and also quite strong at relating his ideas coherently.

i am not convinced at all that his research supports your preposition - that culturally specific musical understanding comes from genetic predispositions. what it seems to me is that music does have genetic roots, but, the cultural specific qualities are not genetic, but contextual to a culture.

let me explain: as i am more familiar chomsky, here is his argument in a nut shell. the basis for language in terms of it's grammar is common throughout all of humanity. there is a genetic structure which facilitated the creation of language, and is is the same for all homo sapiens. the specifics of each language are abstractions upon this foundation. the big lesson is take any new born child, and insert them into any culture, and they will be able to adapt fully to that culture. the basic genetic structure is the same, and no differences between culture come close to exceeding the differences between individuals.

individuality is more profound that culture.

this is very important in what it implies, and is why i challenge your ideas. to say that an individual is defined by their culture can lead to many problems, and has the tendency to reduce the individual's creative personality - in essence, we become non creative cultural impresarios. this is very dangerous to artistic endeavors, as well as social/political to say the least. it is why we can justify the mass murder of war - since it is an act against/for culture, the individual becomes meaningless. in my view, the individual triumphs over the culture, so, to kill in an act of war is murder.

but, back to music and genetics - here is a quote from david huron:

"Complex evolutionary adaptations arise only over many millennia. Accordingly, in order for a behavior to be adaptive, it must be very old. As we have seen, music-making does indeed conform to the criterion of great antiquity."

since the invention of polyphony is only a few hundred years old, it does not stand up to scientific scrutiny to say that it is a genetic trait. it simply has not been around long enough to have had any impact on our genetic identity.

another quote:

"Evolution proceeds only by changes to a species' genome. Evolution influences genes, and genes are expressed in the form of proteins, so any purported adaptation must have biochemical concomitants. As we have seen, musical experience clearly influences and is modified by natural biochemical substances in the body. Music evokes pleasure via the same ultimate pathway as for other forms of behavior, and music regulates the production of testosterone and (possibly) oxytocin. These facts in no way prove that music is an adaptation, but they satisfy a basic biochemical requirement"

testosterone and oxytocin are also related to that of sexual pleasure. do you believe that sexuality is culturally specific? yes, the attitudes and rules around sexuality are quite different across cultures, but it would be quite absurd to suggest that one culture experiences sexual pleasure differently than another. our biology is the same.

the very complicated yet fascinating implications are two-fold: in essence, we (humans) are all very very very similar genetically (99.9), yet, we are also all different (0.1). That small difference is defined by the individuals genes, not the culture surrounding. And it is that 0.1 difference that makes for great art.

i want to make it clear that i am not against culture. but, it's role must be measured. in particular, nationalism can become a very ugly tool of bigotry and fuel for fear and hate.