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Music Appreciation Unit 1
Transcript of Music Appreciation Unit 1
Forming a language to
discuss our common
What is your definition of Music?
Music: Organized Sound over Time
The basic element of music, which is sound,
must occur in an organized manner.
There MUST be an occurrence
of aural sound...and guess what?...
any and all sound is valid.
These sound elements must occur over a measurable span of linear time that we can comprehend...this is what we perceive as "rhythm."
After all, you need to
be able to describe this...
"One must first...accept that a sound is a sound,
a man is a man, give up illusions of ideas of order,
expressions of sentiment, and all the rest of our
inherited claptrap." -John Cage, American Composer
Why study music?...
Unlike visual art, numbers, or the written word, there has never been a human culture devoid of music.
Musical instruments were found in the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal settlements in central and Northwestern Europe (e.g. carved flutes made from mammoth and other animal bones).
Percussive castanet-like instruments have
been found that date to 20,000 - 29,000 years old. After the human voice, beating things together to make sound was probably the next step in the evolution of human music, as evidenced by these stones (cut into different shapes to make different sounds) that date to 165,000 years ago.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead asserts that god created
everything by combining visualization with uttered sound;
by pronouncing something's name, that thing would come into existence.
The god Ra was also called Amen-Ra...he came
into being when he pronounced his own name (!)
The ancient Chinese believed music was the basis
of everything in social culture; Confucius believed that if a society's music changed, then society itself would change accordingly...the Imperial Music Bureau was established in the Qin Dynasty (221 - 07 B.C.) and charged with regulating court and military music, and what folk music should be played or sung in each area.
In Hindi, the word for BOTH god and music
is "nada". The Hindus believe that "sound is all,"
hence the importance placed on chanting the om.
The ancient Greeks believed in "harmonic resonance,"
the cosmic music or tones that sound as the planets move across the sky (this phenomenon was proven by radio telescopes).
Genesis 1:3 "And God said, let there be light, and
there was light."
Modern String Theory in physics asserts that matter consists of tiny loops of wiggling strings of energy that
undulate according to wave motions, and they are smaller than any particle known or speculated. They have no internal structures, and are estimated to be a
billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a centimeter.
Think about it...all matter, everything we know, could be composed of vibrating strings of energy at a constant frequency, and in multiple dimensions...not unlike bowing the string of a violin and watching what
happens across all areas of the string as it vibrates.
So...is our entire universe made of music?
In order to learn more and make aesthetic
judgments about the music you hear, you must listen to music in a more concentrated, analytical way (which is why you are here!).
After all, knowing more about the structures and inner workings of music will increase your enjoyment of it.
Talking about music is not easy...after all, we don't do it very often, except for "surface talk." We must learn to verbalize what we are hearing.
Judging the quality of music on an impartial basis
has very little to do with your personal taste or preference, although your personal likes and
dislikes are valid.
You can't make a true aesthetic
judgment after only one hearing of
a piece of music.
Just because you may not immediately understand a musical work, does not mean it is not good art.
In contrast to all of that, what does our contemporary culture tell us about the worth of music?...
"The devaluation of music and what it's deemed to be worth is laughable to me. My single costs $.99, the same cost as in 1960. On my phone I can get an app that makes fart noises for $.99, the same price as the thing I create to speak to the world with. Some would say the fart app is more important. It's an awkward time..."
Hopefully, this class will expose you to music that you've never encountered before, and you will learn to develop an appreciation and understanding for many different kinds of music you don't listen to currently.
Who knows...you might even LIKE some of it!
In reality, almost all of the music you hear, whether on TV, radio, or recordings, is manipulated electronically in some manner anyway...it's not "real" or actually being created "in the moment" by a human performer on an acoustic instrument.
So...WHAT can you trust?
To help you understand how small they are...if you could make a single atom as big as the Milky Way Galaxy (which is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 km across), the string would be the size of one human hair.
Record stores (where you could buy LP's, Tapes, CD's of recent and past artists) are virtually non-existent today. Except for the current resurgence of vinyl...YAY!
Teenagers (the top demographic for popular music) have access to free music streaming through the Internet instantly, at the touch of a finger. So do we all. Then why should they/we buy music?
What does this business model say about the value of the music?...
Industry analysts complain that teens are much more interested in the actual devices (iPhone, iPad, smartphones) on which to play their music than the music itself. A recent survey indicated that more than 50% of all teens list YouTube as their first source for listening to music...radio and CD's are not even close. I would assume this is true for you also.
What about Spotify?...Pandora?...
Is there anybody actually paying for music today?
Or, is music being used in a subtle way to tap into our subconscience, perhaps to influence us in ways you may not realize...
Did you know?...
Scientists have finally detected Gravitational Waves, as predicted by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. Ripples in the fabric of Space-Time! Waves...MUSIC!
Unfortunately, therefore what gets lost in our culture is the appreciation for the ARTISTRY of making music, recognizing the immensely detailed preparation of the musician as related to performance...
And the creative, meticulous planning of the structure of
the music that you may not even realize is there...
The duo "Milli Vanilli" earned a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1990, but whether or not they performed their own vocals was in question due to a July 1989 lip-synching disaster on live television...in November 1990, they revealed that they did NOT sing on their own records, and fraudulently took credit for other's musical performances.
So...WHO can you trust?