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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000038.txt from 2001/04

From: Roger Shilcock <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Meta-music?
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2001 08:23:53 -0400

Possibly "ugliness" is outside the realm of logic - but that doesn't
mean that the use of the term need be irrational.
ROger S.

In message < writes:
> On Mon, 2 Apr 2001 09:56:33 -0700 (PDT) (William
> Wright) writes:
> > <><> Roger Shilcock wrote:
> > But nobody is trying to describe music in terms of its own language
> > -
> > are they??
> > For music, "natural" language - of whatever kind - *is* a
> > metalanguage.
> >
> >
> >
> > As always, comparison of music to language is a bed of quicksand
> > --- and so is any discussion of "good" or "bad".
> No, I don't think so, we just have to keep track of what is what.
> > But ultimately, I
> > believe that music and language spring from the same roots. (Many
> > people on this list disagree with me, of course.)
> Yes, I think there are definitely some similarities.
> >
> > That said, if music and language do share some basic structure in
> > common, cannot we make a case that "embouchure" and "breath support"
> and
> > "on the beat" and "intonation" and perhaps even "historical knowledge"
> > are all pieces of music's syntax and grammar?
> I think the beat and rhythm could be part of music's grammar and syntax,
> but not embouchure and breath support. Grammar and syntax are the
> structure of language used to organize it. In other words, to make it
> more efficient for our categorizing brains to assimilate the information
> being communicated. Embouchure and breath support would be analogous to
> the pen/keyboard/etc used to write or the breath used to vibrate the
> vocal chords to produce words because they are the means of producing the
> sounds that are organized by rhythm and beat. I'm not sure what would be
> comparable to intonation. It doesn't seem to fit in this analogy.
> > If so, then aren't they
> > part of the meta-language that describes the language of 'proper'
> clarinet
> > playing? And if so, isn't there room for logical error
> > when trying to use these same 'symbols' (words) for both levels of the
> > hierarchy?
> > You could end up with statements such as "This music is ugly"
> > that are logically equivalent to "This sentence is a lie."
> How can "This music is ugly" be logically equivalent to "This sentence is
> a lie"? Statements of beauty are value judgements and because of the
> ubiquitous use of ugly the phrase is nebulous and unspecific without
> further justification with argument. But even if one argues for such
> judgements, they are still emotional in nature and relative to the
> judge's life experiences. Webster appears to support my argument that
> ugly is a value judgement, in that it uses more subjective words to
> define it as a descriptor of something that is aesthetically unpleasant,
> vile, or repulsive. I don't think such emotional responses are
> approachable with logic.
> However, the latter sentence you cite is a statement of fact, that it,
> according to webster, is a statement that isn't consistent with reality
> and probably made with the intention of deceit. Which of course sets up
> contradiction of logic, making it simply a play on the ambiguities that
> can be set up by the manipulation of factual language. If such a play
> in music is possible, I don't think it would be within the terms of it's
> value to people.
> My two cents... (in the sense that Tony Pay posted about a few weeks
> ago. Hmmm... I wonder if he'd be willing to comment.)
> Best,
> Jennifer
> > They sound
> > reasonable until you attempt to deal with the two levels of meaning.
> >
> > I find this to be an interesting chain of thought about music
> > because it can deal with statements that, at first blush, seem to be
> > blatant statements of personal preference and yet simultaneously
> > appear to have some fundamental relevance to the proper defnition
> > of 'good music'.
> >
> >
> >
> > Cheers,
> > Bill
> >
> >
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