Joe de la Hoyde Assignment 2:
“A study into whether Indeterminacy serves musical purpose and righteous influence” by Joe de la Hoyde
“Music is more logical than the human mind can comprehend: yet we can recognize it and surrender to it. We cannot comprehend music but music can comprehend us”- Peter Hiett
There is no doubt that indeterminacy is indeed a legitimate influence in the reformation of contemporary music within today’s submersive culture. A force through which composers deconstruct what makes music while also an avenue through which they can construct it. Nonetheless, it poses only relevance to the downfall and degradation of romantic notions of music in a modern context. Piece by piece, indeterminate causes reveal the exploitation of music into a form to which mass produce a construct of post modernistic and avant guarde concerns. It is simple and clear to consider the importance of the development of indeterminacy as it has indeed led to some memorable pieces in the last century, but it is also just as important to consider the question of music and its integrity. Put it down to personal taste and interpretation, but does indeterminacy strip bare the heart and soul in which we traditionally associate with music? Does it rid the composer the feeling and the necessity to feel an attachment to their work? Does the work become a product of numeracy and chance or does the product remain a true and pure encapsulation of a composer’s musical sensibility, direction and/or emotional socialistic purpose?
Consider objectivity vs. subjectivity. It is legitimate to consider music as a force or energy that causes an audience to feel a feeling based on interpretation. Whether or not a song is good or not is entirely subjective. No song is neither good nor bad but is rather special for it’s ability to force thought and its capacity to harbour feeling, "whose distinctness surpasses even that of the world of perception itself" (1). However, despite numerous inaccuracies that you may congress in my argument, a listener, regardless of age, taste and background has the ability to hear the depth in music. To hear and consider music as a product of the composer and as a product of a thought and idea based on a musical idea. People pay hundreds of dollars to experience John Cage’s “4’33”” in an attempt to challenge their minds to realise their everyday sounds as musical (2). But I successively emphasise “experience” and “attempt” as while it is possible to interpret the indeterminacy of the so called “music”, it is reasonable to assume that based on what audiences perceive as musical, it is likely a failed attempt at intellectualising music. If we were to teach a child from birth that the colour blue was in fact called red, then no matter how many times told otherwise later in life, that person will always perceive the colour blue as red. Similarly, from birth we are familiarised with the difference between sound and music, and unless brought up differently, we as adults will struggle to handle unorganised sound as musical.
Although a somewhat tangent, indeterminacy imposes the same concerns rooted within it’s purpose, development and interpretation. It is slightly possible that indeterminacy can contain elements of musical integrity while its purpose and conceptual idea is clear and present. But it is otherwise flawed from the origin. Devoid of meaning, such a piece of composer branded “music” lacks the ability to connect with an audience as it lacks the ability to achieve its purpose.
Indeterminacy and its complexity as a musical matter continues to trick audiences into a false sense of musicality. While it is inherently flawed in both practice and presentation as a musical concept, so are our own philosophies and interpretations. And as such, like it is easy for me to sit here and attack the notions of indeterminacy, it is conversely highly naïve of me and anyone in a similar position to reject its worth as a compositional tool, one of which has been an imperative influence on the evolution of contemporary musical discourse today. Despite an arguable failure in the sense of musical integrity, indeterminacy still poses significant arguments worth consideration and certain appreciation. For what they have to offer are the realisation of a sometimes-philosophical practice and an embodiment of an intellectual idea within sounds. They pose questions that through sound they can ask and during a performance they can interrogate, attempting to challenge the very grounding of our musical sensibility.
· (1) “The World as Will and Representation”- Arthur Schopenhauer, London Paul, Trench, Trübner, First published in 1818
· (2) “Composition as process: Indeterminacy” - Audio culture – Readings in modern music – New York, Cox, C & Warner (2004), Continuum
· John Cage “4’33”” – Viewed 29/4/2011 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUJagb7hL0E
· “The Mozart Effect: Classical music and your baby’s brain” – By Danielle Sweeney – February 2009, copyright © BabyCenter LLC. 1997-2011 All rights reserved – Viewed 29/4/2011 - http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-mozart-effect-classical-music-and-your-babys-brain_9308.bc
· “The Philosophy of Music” – Lecture with guest Peter Kivy © 2006 Stanford University. All rights reserved - Viewed 29/4/2011 http://www.philosophytalk.org/pastShows/Music.html
· “The Aesthetics of Popular Music” - Theodore Gracyk Minnesota State University Moorhead published: June/28/2008 – Viewed 30/4/2011 - http://www.iep.utm.edu/music-po/
· “What is Music?” – Author Unknown, Viewed 29/4/2011 - http://www.cobussen.com/proefschrift/300_john_cage/310_what_is_music/what_is_music.htm
· “Music: An Appreciation” 8th Edition – Roger Kamien Published by McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. Avenue of the Americas, New York Copyright 2004
· “The Philosophy of Music” - Andrew Kania, published 2007, © Andrew Kania 2007 – Viewed 28/4/2011 - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/music/