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On Music

  1. Nov 3, 2004 #1
    Why do we enjoy the music that we listen to?

    What is it about this music that entails our attention and interest?

    Do we listen to rock, rap, or trance music because it outputs our feeling?

    Is this good ? (Please do not start discussing the definition of good; assume it is the overall, general human goodness).

    Socrates, as well as his pupil Plato, stated that music is a gateway for divine communication or divine goodness. It slipped through the gatekeeper of the soul, bypassing reason. Music was said to be the foundation needed for future harmony of the soul to flourish. Music, being an extreme magnitude of goodness, was censored because it also had a good capability of becoming extremely evil (The corruption of the best things are the worst things). It was music that was the original language, and from this music can be produced a harmonious soul. When you produce your music, without any understanding of a higher power, you begin to believe that everything has come from you (humans). Once this bridge for the voice of the gods is made subjective, society becomes the product of humans, as well as civilization and religion. Finally, everything is subjective. Everything is contingent upon the self.

    Narcissus fell in love with his reflection. We are doing the exact same by admiring the feeling(s) we exert while listening to this perverse music.

    Agree to disagree? Please share.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2004 #2


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    I listen to a lot of music. I don't think of it as coming from any gods, but from the composers and performers. Alfred Brendel playing Beethoven sonatas is as perfect a human action as I can conceive, but it is ONLY a human action. It would be an insult to Brendel and Beethoven to attribute my intense pleasure to some unproven deity.
  4. Nov 4, 2004 #3
    I think a lot of what we like about whatever music we like is associated with what connotations it carries for us, culturally, harmonically and in terms of where and when we heard or hear it.

    Thanks, Babsyco.
  5. Nov 4, 2004 #4
    If a true composer who is truly sane was asked whether he is writing for himself or for a perhaps unexplainable power, I would bet on the second.

    If one is caught up in thinking that music is made by humans and is only meant for humans, ego-centricism occurs.
  6. Nov 4, 2004 #5
    If you think Beethoven's music is about intense pleasure, you never heard the Grosse Fuge. And who was it who composed awesome music to these words:

    You bough down, millions?
    Can you sense the Creator, world?
    Seek him above the starry canopy.
    Above the stars He must dwell.

    Nah, Beethoven's music is not about some unproven deity. Definitely not.
  7. Nov 7, 2004 #6
    music allows for emotions to be tapped. the words along with the sounds that accompany it cause something in you to be touched. it brings on memories, fantasies and overall good thoughts that just dont come when someone says the words.

    or at least thats what music does for me.
  8. Nov 7, 2004 #7
    But are these emotions and thoughts always "good". Take hard rock for example; are the thoughts you get while listening to this music "good" ? Could you really have good thoughts when hearing music about abuse of drugs, alchohol, and violence?

    Good music is music which causes us to experience good thoughts, like you said. However, we should not become obssessed with this constant expression of feelings.
  9. Nov 7, 2004 #8
    no but you said why do we like listening to the music we do.....i answered why we like it.

    i listen to a lot of hard rock. there's a particular band i love called E.T.I.D (everytime i die) and i dont ever really get bad thoughts while listening to it. i mean i remember times i had with my boyfriend and the times i cherished with him. and i mean this is a hard core punk band. i guess the music is what you make of it. listen to adam song by blink 182. its about suicide. does it not bring up emotions? yes they may not be lovey dovey and happy but they are emotions nonetheless. and they can be liked. sometimes i like feeling sad about a song. it just makes the song that much better. if a song can bring forth emotions of any kind doesnt that make the music good? isnt that the purpose of it? whether its good thoughts or bad, you asked about the liking of the music and that is what im trying to pinpoint. that music can be liked no matter what emotions it brings with it.

    emotions are wonderful things. its true we shouldnt become obsessed with them but its also true that we should be allowed to experience them through music. many people categorize emo music as bad. why? because it brings forth emotions? or maybee its because it brings forth the stereotype that people who listen to emo music slit their wrists. those are the people who are obsessed with the emotions. if that is what you're talking about, i agree. :smile:
  10. Nov 7, 2004 #9
    Wow, that's lots of words. I don't normally use lots of words and being a teenager, I tend to get bored by lots of words but I liked to sound of this topic so I read it.

    Being only human and with little experience in the world, I am unsure what music actually is. I agree that it is most probably a way of communicating. Some music is just catchy so it stays in your head and you enjoy it but there are those certain songs that you listen to and you think, wow, this is good. That's how I feel about the song I'm listening to at the moment.

    It's called Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day and whilst it is catchy, it also makes those little hair all over my skin stand up. I have no particular emotions when I hear it but it does make me feel slightly sad and my eyes tend to go a bit watery.

    It sort of conveys the writers/singers emotions in my opinion, and not that of a higher power. A higher power might of provided inspiration for the music but it's coming from the heart of the writers and singers.
  11. Nov 7, 2004 #10
    It seems everyone has mentioned the word "emotions" several times. But one must first look at what a human is to judge whether emotions are good or not. A human is a combination of 'reason' and 'passion', or 'intellect' and 'emotion'. To be *human*, we must balance the two. Many of you are talking of "emotions" and music that brings about these emotions as almost a sacred form of discourse. Once again, as i said earlier, we must be careful about methods of discourse.

    For anything to be labelled *good*, it must the balanced combination of reason and passion.
  12. Nov 7, 2004 #11
    1) you told us NOT to discuss what the definition of good is
    2)you asked us what it is that attracts us to the music we like.....emotions are what attract us......the way the music touches us causes us to love it so. whether it is "good" or "bad" music
    3)you even said yourself that it sends out feelings.

    coincidence? :smile: :wink:
  13. Nov 8, 2004 #12
    Emotions are a good thing because it lets you know how you feel but overall, being angry can be a bad thing and so can being upset and yes, some music does make you angry or upset, so I suppose you could call that bad music, even if it's good to listen to.
  14. Nov 9, 2004 #13
    Im not sure if i define ego-centrism the same way as you but how can ego-centrism occur when something is intended for the whole human race?
    Do I actually have to have the whole existense of everything in mind not to be ego-centric? :uhh:

    If you mean that one has to give space for God for everything you do in life, i disagree with your quote that sounds like a lecture. And also sounds ego-centric from you... hmmm :smile:

    But as I stated in the beggining my eyes just caught this and Im really clueless at what you mean.
    And this was absolutely not in any form made to flame or being rude towards you in anyway.
  15. Nov 9, 2004 #14

    What's with me and spelling ego-centrism wrong. :rolleyes:

    Anyways, let me give you a practical example.

    Two people are stranded in the middle of a desert for their entire life. They then see a message in a bottle of some sort. They are delighted; since the letter looks extremely long and could possibly be a sign or message from an outside world. They hope it will bring about their own freedom from the enslavement of the desert. They open the bottle and read the message -- only to find that the message was written by them.
  16. Nov 9, 2004 #15

    I see your point in a theoretical way, as the two stranded humans where a metaphor for the human race.
    But still very unpractical to apply to our earth...Not everything can be so vastly rezised and still work in real world.

    hmm If we where ego-centric (is that a correct "bending" of the word btw?) in the case of the whole human race i would actually be glad... we would probably take better care of eachother if we worked as a unit... or maybe it doesnt work as the kommunists kinda proved :)

    Well geez im as usually off-topic and I prolly misunderstood your nice little tale aswell.
    NO more writing for me tonight! waay to tired to even stick my own thoughts together And these philosophy threads makes me develop schizefreina at a very fast pace, hehe
  17. Nov 10, 2004 #16
    There is a difference between music being about an unproven deity and music coming from one. I'm sure Beethoven was very inspired by the thought of a God, but that does not mean that that music came from God, or that there is a God- It came from Beethovens very deep convictions that there was a God. It came from a human-Beethoven. No one is saying Beethoven is about intense pleasure, but rather that it is (in SelfAdjoints case) pleasurable to experience Beethoven performed well, and spare the sarcasm.

    Thanks, Babsyco.
  18. Nov 13, 2004 #17
    But couldn't one say that when one has been inspired by a Divine power, they have been -- in some misterious way -- "touched" by this omnipotent power?

    Either way, if one is inspired by gods or God, they create art to praise his power. Agree?

    If you disagree, please define "inspiration".
    For those who disagree with me, please help out by defining 'music'.
  19. Nov 13, 2004 #18


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    "Inspired" originally meant by a god. In Latin it means "breathed-into" which gives the idea. But modern thinkers can speak of inspiration without suggesting any deities. It just means the deepest and most powerful kind of human originality. I don't think the example of great artists is a good strategy for deriving theism; it never convinces anybody who isn't already converted.
  20. Nov 13, 2004 #19
    A philosophy teacher of mine once said to me that his favourite argument for the existance of God is Mozart. He stated that if one were to carefully listen to Mozart and understand it to their fullest potential, its beauty would eventually give you a feeling of Divine Inspiration.
  21. Nov 14, 2004 #20


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    I've been listening to Mozart my whole long life, and when I was religious it wasn't because of Mozart, and when I was irreligious, Mozart didn't change me.
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