Silence and Freedom (Stanford Law Books)

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See Kania c, b; for criticism, see Letts In the face of this, some theorists have pointed out that musical works are cultural entities, and thus the methodology appropriate to uncovering their ontological status might be quite different from that of general metaphysics Goehr ; S. Davies a; D. Davies ; Thomasson , Kania c. There currently seems to be as much interest in the methodological questions as in first-order theorizing. For recent examples, see Kania c; D. It might seem that, since musical works are ontologically multiple, once we have figured out their true nature, we will know what relation holds between the work and its instances.

However, since the fundamentalist debate is about the basic ontological category to which works belong, resolving that debate may leave open many questions about the instantiation relation. Would producing harpsichord-like sounds on a synthesizer do just as well? There have been two sources of widespread confusion in the debate over authenticity in performance.

Something may be more authentic in one regard and less authentic in another S. Davies —5. That this is not the case is clear from the fact that an authentic murderer is not a good thing S. Davies Thus, our value judgments will be complex functions of the extent to which we judge performances authentic in various regards, and the values we assign to those various kinds of authenticity. The central kind of authenticity that has been discussed is authenticity with respect to the instantiation of the work.

Most agree that the fullest such authenticity requires the production of the right pitches in the right order. Pure sonicists argue that this is sufficient e.

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Instrumentalists argue that such sounds must be produced on the kinds of instruments specified in the score e. Much of the debate is over what kinds of aesthetic or artistic properties are essential to musical works. As such, the debate reflects a wider one in aesthetics, musical and otherwise, between formalists or empiricists, or structuralists , who believe that the most important properties of a work are intrinsic ones, accessible to listeners unaware of the historical and artistic context in which it was created, and contextualists , who believe that a work is essentially tied to its context of creation.

Stephen Davies has argued for a strong contextualism, claiming that one cannot give a single answer to the question of whether particular instrumentation is required for the fully authentic instantiation of a work. The more properties of an authentic performance a particular work specifies, the thicker it is. Thus for some works typically earlier in the history of Western music instrumentation is flexible, while for others for example, Romantic symphonies quite specific instrumentation is required for fully authentic performances. In addition to the question of what constitutes authenticity, there has been debate over its attainability and value.

Those who question its attainability point to our historical distance from the creation of some works Young We may no longer be able to read the notation in which the work is recorded, or construct or play the instruments for which it was written. If so, full authenticity is not attainable.

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But we rarely have no idea about these matters, and thus we might achieve partial authenticity S. Davies — Those who question the value of authenticity often target kinds other than work-instantiation. Such arguments, though, have no consequences for the value of work-instantiation. Some argue that although we might attain an authentic instance of a work, the idea that we might thereby hear the work as its contemporaries heard it is wishful thinking, since the musical culture in which we are immersed enforces ways of listening upon us that we cannot escape Young —7.

Thus the point of such authenticity is questioned. In response, we may consider not only the possibility that we are in a better position to appreciate historical works than contemporary ones, but also the remarkable flexibility people seem to show in enjoying many different kinds of music from throughout history and the world S.

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Davies —7. For an excellent overview of the authentic performance debate, see S. For an investigation of authenticity with respect to things other than instantiation of the work, see Kivy , Gracyk , and Bicknell Some recent work has, like the fundamentalist debate, taken a methodological turn, e. Davies ; Dodd , A second area that may be independent of the fundamentalist debate is that of comparative ontology. For dispute over this framing issue, see Brown , , and Kania Just as classical works from different historical periods may be ontologically diverse, so may works from different contemporary traditions.


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Theodore Gracyk has argued that instances of works of rock music are not performances. Rather, the work is instanced by playing a copy of a recording on an appropriate device Stephen Davies has argued that rock is more like classical music than Gracyk acknowledges, with works for performance at the heart of the tradition, albeit works for a different kind of performance 30—6.

This has been a useful reminder that not all music is the performance of pre-composed works Wolterstorff — However, it must be noted that improvisation can occur within the context of such a work, as in the performance of an improvised cadenza in a classical concerto. Some have argued that there is not as significant a distinction between improvisation and composition as is usually thought Alperson However, the arguments are not compelling.

Though jazz is not necessarily improvisational, and very few jazz performances lack any sort of prior compositional process, the centrality of improvisation to jazz presents a challenge to the musical ontologist. The difficulty is to specify the work without conflating one work with another, since tokening the melody is not required, and many works share the same harmonic structure. As a result, some argue that the performance is itself the work Alperson ; Hagberg ; S. Davies 16— One problem here is parity with classical music. If jazz performances are musical works in their own right, it is difficult to deny that status to classical performances of works.

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This seems to multiply works beyond what we usually think is necessary. A third possibility is that in jazz there are no works, only performances Brown , ; Kania b. Julian Dodd a argues that the kinds of considerations adduced in favor of these views confuse questions of ontology with questions of value. Jazz is ontologically like early classical music, according to Dodd: the focus of critical attention is the improvisatory performance rather than the composition it instantiates, but that composition is no less a musical work for that difference in critical emphasis.

Similar considerations might be adduced against the increasingly complicated ontologies of rock referred to above.


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  • Such arguments return us to debates about the methodology of musical ontology. The most widely discussed philosophical question concerning music and the emotions is that of how music can express emotions. The reason given for the restriction is usually that it is easier to understand how music with an accompanying text, say, could express the emotions evident in the text. On the other hand, an important criterion for the evaluation of such music is how appropriately the composer has set her chosen text to music.


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    • So an accompanying text is clearly not sufficient for the musical expression of an emotion. Thus, a better reason for initially putting such music to one side is that the interrelation of music and text, or other elements, is likely to be highly complex, and best approached with as well-developed a theory of the more basic phenomena in hand as possible.

      Pieces of music, or performances of them, are standardly said to be happy, sad, and so on. Neither pieces of music, nor performances of them, are psychological agents, thus it is puzzling that such things could be said to express emotions. One immediately helpful distinction is that between expression and expressiveness, or expressivity. Expression is something persons do, namely, the outward manifestation of their emotional states.

      Expressiveness is something artworks, and possibly other things, possess.

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      It is presumably related in some way to expression, and yet cannot simply be expression for the reason just given. The first is that neither composers nor performers often experience the emotions their music is expressive of as it is produced. Nor does it seem unlikely that a composer could create, or a performer perform, a piece expressive of an emotion that she had never experienced. This is not to deny that a composer could write a piece expressive of her emotional state, but two things must be observed.

      The first is that for the expression theory to be an account of musical expressiveness, at least all central cases of expressiveness must follow this model, which is not the case. The second is that if a composer is to express her sadness, say, by writing a sad piece, she must write the right kind of piece.

      In other words, if she is a bad composer she might fail to express her emotion. This brings us to the second major problem for the expression theory. If a composer can fail to express her emotions in a piece, then the music she writes is expressive independently of the emotion she is experiencing. Those usually cited as classic expression theorists include Tolstoy , Dewey , and Collingwood A classic critique is Tormey 97— These theorists have been defended in recent discussions, however, from accusations that they hold the simple view outlined above.

      See, for example, Ridley and Robinson — Some problems with this simple version can be overcome. For instance, some emotions, such as fear, require a particular kind of intentional object something threatening , yet there is no such object at hand when we hear fearful music.

      But the arousalist can broaden the class of aroused emotions to include appropriate responses to the expressed emotion, such as pity.

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