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A very interesting and detailed article on the techniques, whether consciously or unconsciously applied, that make the difference between music that moves the listener and music that doesn't. Both beautiful and highly analytical. With mp3 examples from classical music, but I'm sure your own examples will spring to mind.

"The Craft of Musical Communication"


27 May 2008 08:05
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Is this based on a dissertation or post-grad work? I don't have much time to read it right now (I think I'm gonna eat ice cream and a mango to help my throat) but it sounds similar to what people are doing in the "music cognition" field.

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28 May 2008 20:01
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I didn't know there was a music cognition field. I just found it and thought it was really cool because I'd never read anything quite like it. I'm not a classical musician, or indeed any kind of musician. But I am really, really into listening to music. And being moved by it. I can't quite make out what institution, if any, the site is affiliated with.


29 May 2008 07:40
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Northwestern has a music cognition program in lieu of a music theory program. It's not a very common program currently but it takes aspects of neuroscience, music therapy, and music thoery and blends them together. I knew someone who was getting a PhD in it. I haven't had time to further look at this but if I find out what institution it's affliated with, I'll post it.

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03 Jun 2008 13:25
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Please do, E.

I find this subject endlessly fascinating!

And Felicity, thanks for the original post (I missed it until now). I read something related a while back, I'll see if I can recall/relocate and post it here, as well.

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05 Jun 2008 03:33
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OK, I looked into this a little bit further.

http://marianneploger.com/abouttheartist.html

http://keithhillharpsichords.com/abouttheartist.html

Seems that they are Michigan-based "pedagogues", with no academic affiliation. Both have Master's in music performance and/or history but neither seem to have much of a science background.

This signifies a red flag for me:
The Institute of Musical Perception wrote:
We are not affiliated with an academic institution because to do so would compromise the interest we have in the nature of spirituality, the Soul and how these are to be engaged in the acts of music making at all levels of the craft and Art. Since this investigative endeavor must be primary, it must also be conducted outside a scholastic environment (because scholarship is by definition a secondary form of investigation) We believe it to be essential that we follow our perceptual research into the Musical Arts free of all external encumberances as to where that research takes us.


One thing that I do wonder about is if their "scientific" methods have gone under the scrutiny of peer review process, which is highly important if you are attempting to work in a scientific manner. I think that those who study/teach Music Cognition at NU have their studies published in a music theory journal which undergoes some sort of peer review.

That quote is similar to the kind of tag line that advocates of Intelligent Design use to defend their position. That excuse "we don't use peer review because academia is corrupt or close-minded" or some nonsense.

I'm very skeptical about their particular studies. I'm not saying that people not affiliated with a university/institution can't make scientific discoveries or develop theories but I get the feeling that they skirt the peer-review process because their methods might not fly under review.

I would not be surprised if upon even further investigation this is merely junk science.

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12 Jun 2008 19:48
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ERawkStar wrote:
The Institute of Musical Perception wrote:
We are not affiliated with an academic institution because to do so would compromise the interest we have in the nature of spirituality, the Soul and how these are to be engaged in the acts of music making at all levels of the craft and Art. Since this investigative endeavor must be primary, it must also be conducted outside a scholastic environment (because scholarship is by definition a secondary form of investigation) We believe it to be essential that we follow our perceptual research into the Musical Arts free of all external encumberances as to where that research takes us.



Hmmmm... (Where's the "suspicious" emoticon?)

While I share the interest in the subject of how the human soul is engaged in the creation of art, specifically music (or, more correctly, I'm interested in connecting how its engagement leads to how it's expressed), I disagree that it's necessary to conduct investigation outside academia.

(Possible? Yes. Essential? No.)

I'm still fascinated, though.

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12 Jun 2008 20:19
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Christel wrote:
While I share the interest in the subject of how the human soul is engaged in the creation of art, specifically music (or, more correctly, I'm interested in connecting how its engagement leads to how it's expressed), I disagree that it's necessary to conduct investigation outside academia.

(Possible? Yes. Essential? No.)


So, you were agreeing with me, then:

ERawkStar wrote:
I'm very skeptical about their particular studies. I'm not saying that people not affiliated with a university/institution can't make scientific discoveries or develop theories but I get the feeling that they skirt the peer-review process because their methods might not fly under review.


People that make scientific discoveries outside of academia can bring their discoveries to a peer review board for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. I think that's what happens frequently in astronomy. There's nothing saying that they cannot. I can write an article for a musicology journal and get it published in JAMS if it passes review, even though I am not a professor at a university.

I just wonder how much their studies have gone through peer-review and what their methods are for conducting research and what journals have published their work.

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12 Jun 2008 20:29
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ERawkStar wrote:

So, you were agreeing with me, then:


Yes. Sorry if that was unclear.

I am assuming, because no specific research methods are outlined and no journals are cited in those CVs, that they have not subjected their studies to peer review (at least not yet).

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12 Jun 2008 20:39
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Possible, as I haven't been extremely thorough with their CVs, but I think that there would have been other past studies that would have been published or subjected to review. I don't think that scientists really work on one thing and then go to the next. I think they might work on one experiment for a bit and then go to another concurrently. I would have to ask someone in the science field.

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Last edited by ERawkStar on 12 Jun 2008 22:44, edited 1 time in total.



12 Jun 2008 21:00
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OK, I'm trying to get through the first part of the essay and already I'm scrutinizing the hell out of it. I'm seeing poor word choices , weird-ass run-on sentences, etc.

How are results "mixed" when they break down to a 95-5 ratio of one vague conclusion to the other? To me, mixed results are more like a 40-60 breakdown to nearly even), 100% results for two groups of some vague concepts. And really, what are listeners inspired to do after listening to classical music? All of them are inspired to do "something"? How many people did they survey, five?

I'm wondering what the hell does this mean:
Craft of Musical Communication wrote:
What we have found is that the hostile listeners are incredibly smart and perceptive in that they have no patience for listening to music played in a manner that doesn't communicate.


What music doesn't communicate? That I'd really like to know. Leave the snarky John Cage and Naim Jun Paik comments out of this, peanut gallery.

Why are hostile listeners considered very smart? Because they were pleasantly surprised that classical music (as broad as that is) isn't all that bad? What pieces were played? Did hostile listeners show one preference to one composer as opposed to another? were they even played more than one composer?

There's enough holes in the first few paragraphs alone. I could go on; everything is way too vague, as far as what I've read. There's on thing I learned in grad school, it's to scrutinize everything when it comes to research and ideas and not to be afraid to criticize "sacred cows" (like Adorno, not these jokers).

There's plenty of blanket statements (I pretty sure I've seen some movie villains getting down to heavy metal more than listening to classical music). I don't see much science in this; there's no application of scientific devices to measure brainwaves, nor does it seem that there's statistics applied (which is done in sociology). I don't see enough citiations of other works. I can't read much more of this. This website, she is crap and junk science.

Christel and Felicity, I know that you both are fascinated by this subject but I think that you can find better studies regarding music cognition on the internet. Then again, google might throw up a bunch of JSTOR links.

There's a few links on the music cognition wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_cognition

They do link to dissertations, so it might be tough reading if you're not used to reading music dissertations.

Here's one that gives an overview of Northwestern's program, written in 2004, right when I just started my master's:

http://www.northwestern.edu/observer/is ... music.html

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12 Jun 2008 22:26
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ERawkStar wrote:
What music doesn't communicate? That I'd really like to know. Leave the snarky John Cage and Naim Jun Paik comments out of this, peanut gallery.


:lol:

This made my night, Eliza. I'll probably comment more later, but for now I must go finish, er, start my Jason Falkner review (Bedtime with The Beatles Part Two is out next week and the disc just arrived...)

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12 Jun 2008 23:46
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I didn't approach this as a scientific text. That would have been a category error. The essay, clumsily written as it was in spots (I saw the run-ons as an endearing mark of enthusiasm), struck me as an attempt to bridge the gap between musicians and audiences by deconstructing the audience's subjective experience of being moved, or not, by music and reverse-engineering it in a way that musicians could apply in performance. I'm no scientician, but I could do the exact same thing for poetry, probably even up to listing you 11 "cognitive techniques", with examples, that could be employed to create more moving poems. Would you insist that my essay be peer-reviewed?

I don't really mind that this essay comes from a fairly flaky "institution". The ability to glean good ideas from dodgy sources is a powerful secret weapon, as I discovered once when I awed a PhD in gender studies with relationship advice cadged from the Mars and Venus books.

And yes, of course there is music that doesn't communicate anything. When was the last time you were put on hold?


13 Jun 2008 18:23
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You may not have approached it from a scientific viewpoint, but I got the impression that by calling themselves "musical scientists" on their CVs, they were trying to convey that their methods were in line with what is going on in those types of studies, regardless of an affiliation with academia or not.

And I'm sorry the essay was badly written enough that I could not read the rest of it after about four paragraphs to find good ideas embedded in what seems to be pretentious hogwash.

felicitywormwood wrote:
probably even up to listing you 11 "cognitive techniques", with examples, that could be employed to create more moving poems. Would you insist that my essay be peer-reviewed?


I have no problem with that being published but don't call it "science", since what is considered to a "moving poem" is still a subjective opinion and not objective fact. That is the main problem that I have with this website. I know as much as we want love for Shearwater to be objective fact, it's still our subjective opinion.

When I was last put on hold, I heard a piece by Mozart. I'm sure he intended that to not communicate anything when he wrote that before telephones were invented. :wink:


14 Jun 2008 10:35
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Quote:
You may not have approached it from a scientific viewpoint, but I got the impression that by calling themselves "musical scientists" on their CVs, they were trying to convey that their methods were in line with what is going on in those types of studies, regardless of an affiliation with academia or not.


I read it as literary criticism, not science, so I'm comfortable with its attempts to analyze what is essentially a subjective experience, because that is what literary criticism is all about. Literary criticism deals in assertions about things that are ultimately unquantifiable and subjective, and if you're not 100% okay with the vulnerability implicit in that, it can be tempting to get confused and try to duck behind the shield of "science", which the authors seem to be doing.

Quote:
I have no problem with that being published but don't call it "science", since what is considered to a "moving poem" is still a subjective opinion and not objective fact. That is the main problem that I have with this website. I know as much as we want love for Shearwater to be objective fact, it's still our subjective opinion.


Who wants love to be objective? Half of London would be after my date. Empiricism is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go all that far when you're talking about most of the important stuff about being alive.

Okay, I am absolutely ready for bed now. I already spent half an hour today defending my reasons for wanting to study Apologetics, which nearly propelled me into an infinite loop of self-justification.


14 Jun 2008 20:07
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