I understand what you're saying so well here, but relationships in music
are not pertinent to the "precedent" concept I have defined for this
purpose. As an example of how precedent has outrun its possibilities,
leaving us ONLY relationships to deal with now, the dictionary definition
of music is actually no longer correct in practice! A lot of "music" is no
longer pleasing or harmonious or follows any of these other rules at all
and does NOT intend to. (I watched Zev violently bang and toss empty metal
trash cans around a stage for an hour once, making NOTHING but noise and of
course defining it as "music.") And in its own way, it was. John Cage was
right. Perceptual focus now defines the sound of music, not ANY of its
particular qualities. And Zev was no precedent as the Dadaists made equally
music-free noise in the teens and 20s, literally banging on pots and pans
at one point! He is a variation on their precedent.
There are plenty of untried relationships yet to be tried, but there is
NOTHING elementally new to inter-relate any more. My idea of precedent is
elemental, music always was and remains almost entirely a matter of
inter-relating such elements in new ways. Music history's avant guard has
now COMPLETELY discovered ALL the possible precedents in "musical"
elements. Hereafter, it can consist of nothing it does not already consist
of. The saving grace is that this does not affect music sounding endlessly
"new" to us because of all the re-relating this now complete body of sonic
and procedural elements allows.
I challenge you to inform me as soon as a NEW sonic element or procedure
which music might include comes along. One that has not existed or been
tried before. I'll be waiting, like everybody else, quite happily
inter-relating what has already been established, until then.
>According to www.dictionary.com, the main definition of "music" is:
>"The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified,
>and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre."
>But I think the last definition listed is also germane to the current
>"An aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds"
>Both definitions connote *relationships* of sounds to each other and to the
>listener. as pointed out earlier in this thread, the number of potential
>relationships is, for all intents and purposes, infinite.
>It seems to me that there are a number of relationships that haven't been
>explored or, if they have been explored somewhat, have not been explored
>very much. In fact, most of what westerners think of as music is confined
>to a *very* tightly restricted set of forms (verse/chorus/bridge, 12 bar
>blues, western concepts of scales and harmony, etc) and yet the
>possibilities within even those simple forms seem almost limitless.
>Other structures are possible and may become entirely new forms of music if
>they are fully explored. Each offers similarly limitless opportunities
>within them. Imagine if you will structures that are palindromic (the same
>backwards and forwards) or kalaidascopic (have perhaps 6 or 8 degrees of
>radial symmetry - why does music have to move linearly from beginning to
>end?) or irrational (never quite repeat) or chaotic (based upon simple
>recursive processes but where the initial starting conditions have dramatic
>impact on the result) or fractalic (where the level of detail in the music
>remains constant whether it is measured over a nanosecond or a century) but
>somehow still manage to fit into the aesthetically pleasing category - which
>may just be a shorthand phrase referring to strange attractors to which the
>mind is attuned. That tuning seems to be variable over time, hence the
>progression of musical styles which we have seen so far. Each incremental
>change that is accepted allows for further change since the possibility of
>what may be deemed aesthetically pleasing expands as does the surface area
>of the "cutting edge."
>Stravinsky's music was almost entirely misunderstood when it first came out
>but now would hardly raise an eyebrow - most people would think it was a
>movie soundtrack. The Beatles were heretical and now they are revered. Rap
>wasn't considered music and now it is a major chunk of the music business.
>I'm sure those with a better understanding of music history could cite an
>almost endless progression of expansion of the boundries of music.
>Perhaps your focus on the substance of each particular sound in disregard
>for the relationship of sequences of sounds (and the relationship between
>the sequences of sound and the listener) is, no disrespect intended, a case
>of missing the forest for the trees.
>As an aside, www.dictionary.com defines "science" as:
>1. a. The observation, identification, description, experimental
>investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.
> b. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena.
> c. Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.
>2. Methodological activity, discipline, or study: I've got packing a
>suitcase down to a science.
>3. An activity that appears to require study and method: the science of
>4. Knowledge, especially that gained through experience.
>I'm not so sure that music itself couldn't fairly be considered a subset of
>science and, certainly, the study of music is science.
>From: Don Joyce
>Sent: 3/12/01 10:35 PM
>Subject: RE: pho: "threshold" for copyright??
>Music is not science (in more ways than one!) and can go no further than
>the range of human hearing. (There are those lollypop radios you suck on
>and listen with your mouth, but everything you hear with your mouth
>heard before with your ears, but that's more about radio than
>There is no unhearable in music as there is an unknowable in science.
>Technology continues to open up and expand scientific perception, maybe
>forever, but technology cannot do this for music. The Electronic
>of sound was the very LAST music assist science will provide. It's a
>more finite range of possibilities that must end up working as audio in
>There is no quantum level of sound to hear benieth what we can hear, or
>that's what I'm betting. (The microscopic recording of very small,
>"unhearable" sounds has also appeared in music.) The definition of music
>cannot expand beyond silence at one end and total noise at the other,
>of which have already been explored in terms of precedent. And, I
>every possible precedent in between as well. Science can and does
>to explore and reveal when its subject goes beyond the range of our
>senses, but music cannot.
>Up through the last Century, you actually could and did hear new,
>sounds incorporated into music from time to time, but no more. If you
>ANY sound in music that has not been used/heard before, let me know
>immediately, and I will be willing to revise my theory if I can't tell
>where and when it has been heard in music before. Musical precedent is
>>>>>>Everything that CAN be music (categorically speaking) has
>>reached our ears by now...
>>You may be right but I can't help thinking about the fact that in the
>>19th and early 20th Centurys the scientific world thought that, between
>>Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism and Newton's laws of gravitation,
>>everything that could be known about physics was pretty much known. As
>>turned out the seemingly tiny bit left to discover was relativity and
>>quantum physics, which revolutionized science.
>>There may yet be an infinite range of invention in the seemingly narrow
>>of undiscovered territory and, as a practical matter, what is "music"
>>defined subjectively by the listener so we may find its very definition
>>expand greatly as the human mind evolves (and helping that process
>>certainly one of art's great functions).
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