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Emotional responses to artistic works
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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:11 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

MikeAlx wrote:
TheRejectAmidHair wrote:


This is an interesting one. The dodecaphonic music of the Second Viennese School, for instance, still raises accusations of being "too intellectual". And the charge is frequently made that music that needs to be filtered through the intellect to such an extent cannot have the spontaneous emotional impact that music ideally should. And what is more, people who claim to find emotional content in this music are just liars. And so on. It usually doesn't take too long for the insults to start flying.

I think there are really two different arguments here - one is that the music is born of intellectual processes, rather than 'natural' or 'instinctive' ones. The other is that it can only be appreciated for its cleverness rather than its beauty.

The first argument has some merit, as presumably Schoenberg invented serial music in a very top-down, intellectual kind of way. On the other hand, the actual music produced is merely constrained rather than algorithmically-generated, so there is still an element of instinct at work.

The second argument I reject completely - if anything, it is intellectual conditioning that prevents people from connecting to serial music. The fact it doesn't follow expected patterns inhibits some people from enjoying its aesthetic qualities. This very much depends on context. People will reject music in the concert hall or on the radio that they will completely accept in a film score.


I certainly wouldn't argue (and I don't think I have) that "music can be appreciated for its cleverness rather than for its beauty".  But I would argue that it is possible for the mind to train itself, consciously or otherwise, to perceive beauty where it otherwise wouldn't have done.



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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caro wrote:
I always remember hearing what to me was a soprana squarking and thinking how awful the noise was, then the announcer came on and said, "Wasn't that sublime?"  Why? It was just a cacaphony to my ears; I don't understand what he could find sublime in it.  The male parts of opera I can probably enjoy a bit more, but not the high screeching sound of the sopranas reaching for top notes.  


If a soprano voice "screeches", I'd find that ugly as well. Generally, I find a well-trained, well-tuned soprano voice the most "beautiful" sound in the world.



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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="MikeAlx:33894"]
TheRejectAmidHair wrote:



Quote:
In the first place, intellectual grasp can aid rather than hinder emotional response: this is certainly true in other art forms, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be true for music also.

Other art forms are generally symbolic and mimetic - this is not true of most music (or abstract painting). So, other than form and texture/timbre, I don't know what there really is to understand about music that would enhance one's experience of it.


Recognition of, and increasing familiarity with, certain kinds of patterns.

Berg's Chamber Concerto, for instance, used to appear to me merely a sequence of random sounds. And it did not sound attractive at all. But now that I have trained my mind to distinguish certain patterns of sound, it strikes me as very beautiful indeed.



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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="TheRejectAmidHair:33900"]
Apple wrote:

Himadri wrote:
Quote:
Another emotion response that is very difficult to put one's finger on is the aesthetic response. Most people acknowledge, for instance, that the Taj Mahal is beautiful. But what emotions do we access when we respond to the beauty of the Taj Mahal? It' not grief, it's not sadness, it's not mirth or joy, it's not terror ... What exactly is it?

I feel the same way about many works of literature: there is some emotion that I cannot specify that is touched by the perfect, flawless shape of a structure; or by the way the most perfectly chosen words fall in place in so perfect a manner in some pieces of poetry. It is an aesthetic response, and, as such, an emotional response, but one that I have always struggled to express. I was helping our daughter with some of the passages of Middlemarch she was finding difficult, and I was struck by teh sheer beauty of construction of some of these sentences. Even before I go on to what these sentences express, there is an emotional response.


I find what you have said very interesting. I think I read somewhere that Ancient Greek philosophers thought that aesthetically appealing objects were beautiful in and of themselves.

Plato believed that for us to have a perception of beauty there must be almost  superior  supreme  beauty in which beautiful objects have which causes them to be beautiful.


I'm not well versed in philosophy, but I have read Plato's Republic in which he expounds his theory of forms, in which he argues that abstract qualities such as "goodness" or "beauty" may take different forms, but that the very fact that we may group together various diverse things and call then"beautiful" indicates that they must share some common feature or features; and he postulated that there exist ideal forms of these abstract qualities such as "goodness" or "beauty", and that all we think f as "good" or as "beautiful" strive to imitate them. He did not, at least in the Republic, attempt to define the quality of beauty. Aristotle did, but his definitions have, I believe, been subject to much debate and contention.




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