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Re: What do you think is necessary in order to have an excellentcomposition?
I do enjoy aesthetic discussions, and am fairly severe on topics such as
the opinion that art is anything that is created with the /pure
/intention of evoking an /aesthetic /reaction...thus, a Porsche is not
But I don't entirely agree that the merit of Art is based on subjective,
isolated emotional reaction. I don't think it fallacious to state as a
point of fact that Bach was a great composer, Shakespeare a great
writer, Van Gogh a great painter, Michelangelo a great sculptor, all of
whom created great works. My own emotional reaction isn't a solid basis
to argue otherwise. There are criteria other then personal emotion to
judge art; innovation, craft, and the perception of value over a period
of time, fr'instance.
Having said that, nobody can tell me what I /should/ like, or what
/should/ have value to me. I'm not a fan of Mozart, yet to label his
work as trash isn't for me to say.
I also think the original question was indeed asking for personal
reactions on excellent composition, as perceived by people making and
listening to music. It'd be different if it were, "What are the
standards that we should set to judge all compositions?".
Would you argue that the question "What is Beauty?" is not a worthwhile
topic for philosophical discussion? On this point, I'm just curious.
> By the way, before I give my two cents to this question, Margaret
> Noble and her video partner in crime, Edyta Stepien, will be flying
> all the way from Chicago to perform at the 2nd Annual Boise
> Experimental Music Festival (http://www.boisemusicians.com/BEMF-2/). I
> am very excited to have her there.
> Now to the question and my answer, which no doubt will ruffle some
> feathers and may even agitate someone, as it is not one of those
> "status quo" philosophies that makes everyon feel warm and fuzzy
> inside...but I have to speak my mind. For at least 15 years I have
> considered myself an "aesthetic non-cognitivist," meaning I reject the
> possibility that there is such a thing as an aesthetic fact,
> evaluative fact, factual value statement, or whatever one would like
> to call these ontological chimeras I consider them meaningless. So
> when I see the question, "What do you think is necessary in order to
> have an excellent composition?", I consider that a question that
> warrants not a statement of fact about the inherent properties of any
> piece of music or performer, but a statement that is a reflection of
> one's emotive response to a piece of music, performer, or the idea of
> composition, etc. In short, I believe that statements of the sort, "X
> is Excellent", "X is good", "X is bad", "X is better than Y", and so
> on , in light of music and art aesthetics are devoid of literal, i.e.,
> factual meaning, and must be re-translated into "X makes me feel
> good", "X makes me feel bad", "X makes me feel better than Y", and so
> on. These are entirely subjective statements, denoting private and
> introspective emotive states. So the answer to the question is not an
> objective one, in my opinion here, and based on my reflections on the
> topic over the years; rather the answer to the question is either
> meaningless (if stated in the "X is Excellent because...", or the
> answers are as numerous as there are people on the planet (if stated
> as "X makes me feel good", etc).
> I would argue, however, there is some factor of delight and/or
> emotional resonance among those who respond to questions of the above
> nature, even if those responses are translated into subjective/emotive
> statements, in the same way the human beings feel better when they
> tell each other how they feel, and they share common feelings. It
> generates a sense of unity and harmony among individuals; though I
> would argue does not generate any so-called objective truth or even
> the slightest and most remote probability about the inherent or actual
> properties of music or a performer, as I believe statements of this
> nature have no cognitive import. We may as well be asking questions
> like "What is the ultimate Good?", or "What is Perfection?", which are
> "in principle" similar questions as "What constitutes Excellence?",
> and which may have been interesting over two thousands years ago when
> Plato was positing the existence of non-physical and ideal "forms", as
> components of the real world, vs. the mere shadows of reality we
> experience via our senses....but today, there are many other
> analytical philosophies invited to the party, which dispense with
> those sort of questions.
> No disrespect to your original question and intent, Margaret...just my
> honest and sincere response.
> Cheers! :)