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The descriptive power of music
Posted by shadrach   •   Sunday, 2009-January-11

I read with interest Richard Gill's answer to "Is music capable of describing reality?"
Except from a purely philosophical view point, what is the point of considering music in isolation from the rest of existence? Surely it is only useful to consider such things within the framework of human experience, in which case previous experience and consequent learned associations must be included as a factor. Though I agree that it would be impossible to describe a teaspoon through music I do think it is possible to build on cultural associations to suggest fear, horror, love, happiness, sadness, majesty, etc. For example the repeated figure in "Jaws" will always be associated with fear of imminent shark attack, the high stabbing string figure from the shower scene in "Psycho" will always stir up horror and "The Stripper" theme will always summon up a risqué, bordy atmosphere. Granted Richard admits that music "...has the power to evoke, suggest, imply, call to mind, conjure up, insinuate..." but isn't that all that anyone would hope to achieve even in writing "program music"? Do you think anyone would really believe that music could be written which could accurately describe, say, a flying pig? To be fair I guess Richard's main point is that music is by far the most abstract of all the art forms.
How does Bobby McFerrin do it?
Posted by jazzdag   •   Wednesday, 2009-January-07

How does Bobby McFerrin sing 2 notes at once, in fact a whole line in 10ths, in this video?...Bobby McFerrin on YouTube.
He doesn't seem to be doing it the way the throat singers of Tuva do by producing coarse, guttural overtones. The notes that Bobby produces are much more distinct and pure. Does anyone out there know how he does it?
Jazz definition dilemma!
Posted by artisan   •   Wednesday, 2009-January-07
In Bill Risby's article of October 2008, I don't know if he is just being deliberately provocative in his statement "Perhaps jazz is just the music that was started near the turn of the 20th century and ended around when Miles Davis was 18 years old" but this bothered me because I tend to agree with Bill Evans' definition of jazz i.e. "Jazz is more a process of spontaneity than a style" (quoted in Matt McMahon's article of January 2009) and therefore the entity "Jazz" can not be relegated to a set period in history. ...Have I got it wrong?
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