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[Xmca-l] Re: The idea that our categories are created



Hi, Michael -

Now that I've read the Times Spotify article and re-read your posts, I
think I'm a little closer to grasping your point.

Classical musicians as I am and as I know them, often see parallels between
music and wine. A work is not just a series of sounds - it's an experience,
hopefully highly pleasurable, conveying character, origin, context, skill,
refinement. Rarity and effort are not disadvantages but badges of value.
And the "label" and atmosphere, terroir if you like, are key to
understanding and enjoyment.

The Spotify article seems (to me) not so much about music as about the
music distribution industry. And that they are trying to go well beyond the
idea of disintermediation. Can you picture millions of bottles of wine, of
all different origins and levels of quality, hooked to the same industrial
network of pipes? The consumer opens a tap (one for red and one for white,
I guess) and has no idea what comes out. At first I felt that Spotify's
concept of using common threads of mood could only be good for classical
music, which is normally so underrepresented. But I didn't see any
classical examples named in the article, so perhaps not.

That said, Schubert and Mahler happily used Ländler (country waltzes) in
their instrumental works, Bach adapted Palestrina's "stile antico" in his B
Minor Mass, Stravinsky famously said that good composers borrow, while
great composers steal, a very large part of the hip hop genre seems to
consist of samples taken from earlier recordings, much of George Gershwin's
"serious" work has flavors or styles of jazz, medieval French church
composers overlaid popular tunes with liturgical words and learned
counterpoint - music has been re-emerging in such ways for centuries if not
millennia. But such expropriations have usually been taken as having
meaning and purpose, drawing parallels in the manner of intentionally
constructed similes and metaphors. I haven't been on Spotify lately to
sample the connections described in the article. But these music
distributors seem to be joining materials together in a way that seems
pretty random, or at least superficial, to a musician.

So we navigate connections between works by seeing likeness and meaning in
them. People will listen for such meanings, just as we see faces in clouds
and constellations in the night sky - our minds seek them out even when
there is no original formative intent. As a musician I feel that people
with musical training, sensibility, and feeling should have something to do
with making meaningful connections happen.

On Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 7:04 PM, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>
wrote:

> Hi Daniel and Valerie and whoever else might be interesting,
>
> I guess my original point was only using the idea of breaking down what
> are perhaps artificial barriers between music as a vehicle.  That often
> times differences between pieces of music, ideas, concept, research
> methodologies (I'll get to that in a minute) are variations on a theme.  I
> know emergence is a big topic, but is it possible what we are really
> talking about re-emergence, take a created artifact that already exists and
> applying it to a specific context, need, trajectory.  But by allowing
> ourselves to maintain the ties to the earlier variations of ideas they
> become richer and more easily manipulated in their re-emergence.  If you
> are listening to a pop tune and are then able to tie the chord progression
> back to an earlier more complex jazz piece or classical piece it makes the
> experience (at least for me) much more enjoyable.  The few times I have
> been able to do it, or more often had it pointed out to me, it was
> thrilling.  It means giving up a certain amount of ownership and/or
> tribalism.  And I have been wondering if the Internet will break much of
> that down because differentiation can so easily be put in the hands of the
> user.  Or do we need these social categories to give our thinking
> structure, to make sure it doesn't go flying in different directions.  How
> much is too much?  What is the right balance between the centripetal forces
> of social categorization and the centrifugal forces of the Internet and the
> choices it places directly in the hands of users.
>
> Anyway this perhaps is something I have been struggling with over the last
> few weeks.  For a number of reasons I have been looking into this new (or
> not so new) phenomenon of design experiments.  I think some people on this
> list may have more knowledge than me on it.  But for the life of me I can
> tell the difference between design experiment methodology and Lewin's et.
> al.'s early action research approach.  And reading Cobb's original 2001
> article it seems both can be traced back to Dewey's book on Logic (I'm
> pretty certain action research can and Cobb's article reads like a Cliff
> notes of Dewey's book).  Yet for whatever reasons there don't seem to be
> attempts made to maintain these connections, recognize that these are
> variations on a theme - that perhaps are made richer by understanding the
> relationships between Lewin's "progressions" and Cobb's "progressions."
>  It is the Internet that helped me tie these things together - but when
> does the ability to tie ideas together lead to a cancophany of sound that
> overwhelms rather than supports our mission.
>
> So that is a long way of saying, how does this simple article on Spottify
> makes us think about both the bood and bad of connections - the thrill of
> recognizing the connection, the danger of being caught in the web (forgive
> the pun)?  How do we navigate it?
>
> Michael
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On
> Behalf Of Daniel Hyman
> Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2015 3:24 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The idea that our categories are created
>
> As a music educator and (mainly classical) musician, I'm delighted to see
> a musical topic here, even though I sense a web of somewhat misty questions
> rather than one discrete one. Anyone's help in clarifying them or parsing
> them out would be much appreciated.
>
> Most Aprils (Jazz Appreciation Month in US schools) I have taught from a
> 2000 PBS video, Preservation Hall: A Night In New Orleans. It intersperses
> various early jazz genres, e.g. 12-bar blues, ragtime, marches, gospel,
> with brief bios and interviews of the band members. Nary a mention of
> activity structures giving refuge from oppression, though they are
> generally literate and university- or conservatory- trained. What I do
> glean is more along the following lines:
>
> - Certain instruments, such as trumpet, clarinet, or singing voice,
> produce one tone at a time and thus lend themselves to melody (unless
> combined in big-band format, which Preservation Hall is not). So one looks
> elsewhere, to upright bass for chord root tones, and piano/banjo/guitar,
> for instruments that can play 3 or 5 or 10 chord members at once. Those
> musicians carry the role of setting the chord progressions the others fit
> into or around.
>
> - As to some extent with classical genres such as symphony, ballet, opera,
> or chamber music, the venue and the genre connect, and somewhat govern the
> sound. Ragtime originated in brothels, blues in bars, gospel in churches,
> marches gave celebrants or mourners a beat to set their pace. Listen to
> "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and you will hear chromaticism not wholly
> unlike what Bach did with the simple Lutheran tune "Sleepers Awake". The
> tempo resembles blues but the chord progressions are more complex.
>
> - Jazz is a family of styles; blues and its close relatives / descendants
> are usually considered within that family.
>
> - Most accomplished musicians can switch styles; they may be famous for
> one or another, but the exact style varies from song to song and
> performance to performance.
>
> Thoughts?
>
> On Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 3:18 AM, valerie A. Wilkinson <
> vwilk@inf.shizuoka.ac.jp> wrote:
>
> > Hi!  I am doing one of my dives from the abstractions of General
> > Systems Theory.
> > Actually, since I am always "on the fly" I don't have time to write a
> > well-developed thought this time, either.
> > When I read Aristotle's Categories at school, the first part of the
> > work is essential. It sets up the frame. Essence or accident, a
> > singular representative of a species - or the whole. (I can see that
> > I've set up a bit of homework for myself) In that work, it sticks out
> > like a sore thumb that the list of "categories", when we finally get
> > around to it, is made of incidental and accidental "properties."
> > Color and length don't tell one much about the animal.
> > Being a generalist means I'm not going to dig in deep here.
> > But in this short (so far) thread, Huw has replied with
> > circumstances/environmental conditions being causal, whereas Michael
> > starts out with looking for some fundamental sense in the progression of
> chords.
> > (Harmonics is an ancient thread)
> > Michael's first observation, that categories, which "someone" sets up,
> > seem provisional but are soon treated as set in stone...
> > And he said, "Not only for Jazz ..." (Even right brain (RB)/left
> > brain(LB) are provisional distinctions in an extremely specialized
> > field.) Does "that's how humans think" cover the topic?
> >
> > It's a rabbit hole. Gotta git before anyone asks me any questions!
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: xmca-l-bounces+vwilk=inf.shizuoka.ac.jp@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> > xmca-l-bounces+vwilk=inf.shizuoka.ac.jp@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of
> > Glassman, Michael
> > Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2015 0:43
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The idea that our categories are created
> >
> > Hi Huw,
> >
> > Just off the top of my head I would say the blues more so.  I wonder
> > if a music historian has ever taken an Activity Theory approach.
> >
> > Michael
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: xmca-l-bounces+glassman.13=osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> > xmca-l-bounces+glassman.13=osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Huw
> > Lloyd
> > Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2015 11:26 AM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The idea that our categories are created
> >
> > The impression I have is that the roots of jazz stem from an abeyance
> > from culturally perceived unpleasant/oppressive conditions and that
> > patterns in chord progression would be derived from that activity
> > structure, not from anything inherent in the music per se, i.e. an
> orientation.
> >
> > Huw
> >
> >
> >
> > On 3 June 2015 at 15:53, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu> wrote:
> >
> > >
> > >
> > > I found this article from the New York Times incredibly interesting
> > >
> > >
> > > http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/technology/personaltech/spotify-se
> > > es
> > > -a-future-where-music-genres-dont-really-matter.html?hp&action=click
> > > &p
> > > gtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=to
> > > p-
> > > news&_r=0
> > >
> > > Having developed a very nascent knowledge of music late in life
> > > because my daughter is studying to be a jazz guitarist and I don't
> > > want to feel like a complete idiot when I discuss one of her
> > > concerts with her - the article reminds me that we (or the media
> > > trying to sell us stuff) creates categories that then for some
> > > reason become set in stone until they aren't anymore (but the
> > > decisions always seem to come from some place else) and the ways the
> > > Internet may be changing that faster than many of us can understand.
> > >
> > > If you read the first paragraph and the children of the writer going
> > > through different types of music as a stream -  I wonder though if
> > > the writer has it wrong, that if you went back and listened closely
> > > you would find they shared chord progressions taken in different
> directions.
> > >
> > > I may have this wrong the way I'm talking about it (I can see my
> > > daughter rolling her eyes in my mind), but jazz has its developing
> > > chord progressions, blues has its chord progressions, they swap back
> > > and forth, rock and folk and new wave takes from both and from
> > > classical, and derivative pop takes and simplifies from all.
> > > Perhaps there is a natural flow as they move between each other,
> > > something we can never hear when there are strict category
> > > boundaries.  The steaming music phenomenon makes these boundaries
> > > transparent, almost as if they don't exist, so we traverse them
> > > without thinking we are making some type of transgression.  How will
> > > appreciation of music change when we don't have the gatekeepers
> > > (using Lewin's original
> > concept) determining what we listen to?
> > >
> > > This of course is not just music.  In the academy there has been
> > > greater and greater move towards particularization and strict
> > > boundaries - AERA isn't one big conferences but hundreds of small
> > > conferences.  Will the boundaries start to break down so we can see
> > > and appreciate the "chord progressions?"
> > >
> > > Interesting to me, wonder what others think.
> > >
> > > Michael
> > >
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
>
>