Bonjour a Tous !
Some context before we start: I haven't played guitar for 2 weeks now due to a hand injury. I have just finished modeling a 3d model of Taj Mahal using a SimplyMaya Tutorial, I am happy for coming back to Maya. Currently I am listening to Allegri - Miserere, the high pitch soprano is always heart melting (link above). I am procrastinating what I should be doing, which is researching how to use Weebly to improve my search-ability over google, instead I am writing a blog about Villa Lobos etude no 5 while sipping hot tea. I hope this blog will distract me from all the news I have been reading lately regarding immigration crisis, and the level of arrogance I am noticing on all parties. (maybe a subject for a blog soon?). One objective of this blog is to use the verb implore! yes English is my second language and while learning French, I realized I am still learning English as well and should not stop :).
Last time I wrote about determinism, I want to continue that conversation by asking a question: If we agree with determinism (as indeed we don't really have a strong counter argument against it just yet), then a question must surely be asked, are those who create pieces of art (I am going to stick to composing music) actually create art, or are they simply "finding" pre-determined arrangements/possibilities of the art form they are working with? in other words, is Music composed out of nothing (vaccum) by a composer, or is the composer simply "finding" one of the infinite possibilities of sound arrangements?
- if this question is difficult to understand, think about this: if we arrange all alphabets in ALL possible combinations (infinite), then we will actually come up with all the written books and all the books to be written in the future. it is a simple mathematical fact. Yes, it is difficult to imagine, difficult to visualize, and perhaps impossible to actually form. Logically though, I believe it is easy to form the argument, and easy to agree with it as there seems nothing to say otherwise. (https://libraryofbabel.info/ click on search and try it for your self, or read "about").
I can already feel some composers/artists/original art creators getting angry with me !
Now, I don't have an answer for that question but:
If the answer is: Composers actually create music out of vacuum (this has nothing to do with what type of notes/instruments/style/period or anything of that sort). Then it is upon those who believe so to counter argue against determinism, since determinism states everything is pre-determined.
Personally, I am having difficulties seeing composers as creators of music from nothing, the notion had always rang my alarm bells. On the other hand, I see no problem in considering my self as a person who "finds" prearranged sets of notes. I might ascribe my name to it and call it: "my composition". To me this only means that it was ME who found that set of notes and arrangements, and I am inviting all of you including my self to appreciate that "composition" by listening to it, performing it, etc.
This can be extended to all art, dance, literature, science, etc. I found people to have a strong intuition to not accept this, mainly due to their feeling that they have suddenly became inferior, or lose credibility for their work. I don't really see that connection, just because your "original" work is already predetermined through mathematical possibilities, it does not diminish your effort, and your desire to find those possibilities. In fact, it should make us even more excited for we are not simply limited to what humans can create, but we are like adventurers exploring new grounds all the time (and indeed, every generation seems to be able to create new things all the time, and I'm not talking about Justin Bieber).
This notion of predetermined arrangements of art does not exclude social factors. It is social factors, and life circumstances (including education and ones comprehension of his field) that allows for one to follow a certain path of "finding" new arrangement. so we cannot say: every single arrangement of music is music (this argument might help account for all the "bad" music out there). the fact still remains that out of the infinite possibilities perhaps only a small portion (ironically the small portion will be infinite too since 1% of infinity is also infinity!) fits according to what we humans consider "acceptable" music, and as we evolve our acceptance of possibilities will evolve as well. Listen to Allegri - Miserere and Stravinsky's rites of spring and it will be VERY clear how much our acceptance threshold has increased.
I am going to steer away from that challenge for a bit and leave you to ponder it for a bit, I implore (level of satisfaction: 100%) you to spend more time thinking about it than you originally did, it is worth it.
I am now going to go back to determinism, one beautiful thing about music for me is our ability to ascribe metaphors to its intrinsic nature. This is Taboo in the academic world (we need to analyze and talk in a non personal tone etc), but on my blog, I can do whatever I want ! so here we go:
The first time I heard Villa Lobos study no 5 (about 5 years ago), I was instantly in love with its ostinato. An ostinato is a line of music that repeats over and over as a layer, while other elements work superimposed on top of the ostinato (sometimes there are no other layers). I strongly recommend you listen to the recording I posted with this blog, the first 5 seconds would be the ostinato (it almost never stops through the entire piece).
Study no 5 is of the type of pieces that I feel has no start and no end (if one does not play the last 3 measures as a rit and omits the last measure. It is possible to play the last ostinato forever and indeed, never stop). I feel this is a strong poetic metaphor for our existence in the universe. The universe being the ostinato, we don't know when it began, or where (poetically of course, scientifically we are working towards answers). As this universe progresses, we are born in it for a very short period and are destined to perish in the distant future, after which the universe will continue playing.
If you appreciate this metaphor, then listen to the study again, and ask your self: where do we come in, and what is our role in the whole process?. It is so beautiful to hear the melody come in and interact with its ostinato, to be bombarded by the bass line which is another character. Throughout the whole study, this conflict continues to develop and the conversation grows to a climax, only to disintegrate at the end as it breaks apart and returns to the ostinato.
listening exercise: where do humans come in? where exactly is our last statement of existence in this piece? what does it all mean? was there a point? can you (you as a listener are a metaphor for the Alien observers, or the intrinsic "soul of the universe" if you may) truly appreciate the whole experience regardless of its nature/outcome? can you make it better? etc. I hope this exercise increases your critical thinking, critical ears, and appreciation for music.
Moving on, I would like to talk a tiny bit of theory for you: the ostinato is actually vague in nature, it has no key! is it in G major? C Major, A minor? we don't know! as theorists we actually more or less kind of 85 % know but as a listener we are rarely given a strong statement of the Tonic (Tonic is the home tone that tells me which scale I am in. Strong usually means the note is in the bass +/or doubled in the high register). However, at the end of the journey, as we return to the ostinato, the Bass suddenly declares a drone C, meaning we are now in C major, and even though it is a clear optimistic key (dare I say simplistic?!), Villa Lobos successfully masks the conclusion by voicing it in a different way, in a way that even though we know we are in C Major, we don't feel C Majorishy !
it is this Vagueness, openness, lust for discovery, and intrinsic beauty that I try to observe my universe, what about you?
Last, if the end is in C Major, do we begin with C Major, or did we being with something "else" that through our interactions with it, metamorphoses into C Major?
While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time, demands an end
PS: Right now I am very upset at the fact I am posting this blog way earlier than planned, but the hand injury was a surprise, I will update this blog with my own recording of V.L study 5 and perhaps then you'll appreciate it more :).
These are short comments I post as I navigate through waters.