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View Poll Results: *clears throat*
Roses are red 48 54.55%
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Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 88. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-30-2013, 08:38 PM   #1
ali.guitarkid7
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Does music have any meaning?

So I've been interested in this topic for a while, thought I'd come in here.

I've always been of the opinion that music is a meaningless artform, it is purely abstract. It only has the potential to express mood and tone, but not image, idea or theme (unless by "theme" we mean a specific melody, but I mean it in the literary sense). If you showed 10 different people a nameless, lyric-less piece of music, they're likely not to end up with the same interpretation at all, or the same image etc. However, show them a piece of prose, and they will all more or less derive the same meaning (unless the text intends not to do that, but we're talking about ability).

So, do you agree?

Do you think music can have meaning?
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:39 PM   #2
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No.

OT: There are certain ideas that will evoke similar, if not identical, emotions and reactions from most people. High, drawn out screechy violins tend to have the same effect on people no matter what.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:40 PM   #3
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Nooooo

Thinking about this too hard has temporarily killed it for me a few times.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:40 PM   #4
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That's most to all art for you, dude.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:41 PM   #5
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:42 PM   #6
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I don't know. There are some crafty post rockers and ambient musicians that can construct bitchin' soundscapes and textures with their music alone. Sure, it's still up to interpretation, but a lot of people derive the same emotions from the music.

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Old 01-30-2013, 08:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfinator-x
That's most to all art for you, dude.

I don't know. I mean, you could paint the image of something as plain as a tractor. You could write a paragraph describing a room. You could take a picture of a car. These all evoke a direct image, but in the end a melody cannot do this. I find this odd, because it's the only form of art I can think of that is extremely popular but also (imo) totally abstract.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blake1221
I don't know. There are some crafty post rockers and ambient musicians that can construct bitchin' soundscapes and textures with their music alone. Sure, it's still up to interpretation, but a lot of people derive the same emotions from the music.

Well, that's what I meant by mood. That's pretty much all you can express with abstract art.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:46 PM   #8
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Of course music can have meaning. Humans naturally associate certain sound patterns, tempos and chords with specific emotions. It's no different in conception to the fact that certain linguistic ideas and rhythms (especially in poetry) illicit a similar response from all people. A quatrain or couplet feels complete to almost everyone, regardless of content, whereas a tercet feels incomplete or extended. We just naturally have rhythms and rolls of sound that we find pleasing.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:48 PM   #9
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art is about the meanings you give to it and the feelings associated with them. also the artist might have a certain intention or no intention at all.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:48 PM   #10
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I disagree with you ts.

The composer might (or might not) have written a song with specific feelings or experiences in mind. Even if there is no clear meaning it still means something to someone.

Also music leaves a lot of room for self interpretation in most cases so eh maybe I agree with you.

Edit: I think I misunderstood what your saying so just ignore this.

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Old 01-30-2013, 08:52 PM   #11
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The meaningfulness of music is greater or equal to the meaningfulness of this thread
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:53 PM   #12
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Guys, I misspoke. I meant to call it abstract, not meaningless. When I say "meaningless" I mean it cannot express an idea or an image on purpose. As in, if I listen to something and imagine the apocalypse, that might not be what the artist intended I imagine at all (and IMO it doesn't count unless it's on purpose, that's the whole point of expressing meaning).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Hart
Of course music can have meaning. Humans naturally associate certain sound patterns, tempos and chords with specific emotions. It's no different in conception to the fact that certain linguistic ideas and rhythms (especially in poetry) illicit a similar response from all people. A quatrain or couplet feels complete to almost everyone, regardless of content, whereas a tercet feels incomplete or extended. We just naturally have rhythms and rolls of sound that we find pleasing.

Really? Is "fear in a handful of dust" the same method of expression as a chord progression?

I might be wording my posts wrong, sorry.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ali.guitarkid7
Really? Is "fear in a handful of dust" the same method of expression as a chord progression?

I might be wording my posts wrong, sorry.


Not entirely, but poetry is much more than just the words.

T.S. Eliot, btw, was very much a student of musicality and music within poetry.

Music is not a 'realist' art form, unless you take what we oddly consider to be very abstract music such as soundbites and remixes of soundbites, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have inherent meaning.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ali.guitarkid7
I don't know. I mean, you could paint the image of something as plain as a tractor. You could write a paragraph describing a room. You could take a picture of a car. These all evoke a direct image, but in the end a melody cannot do this. I find this odd, because it's the only form of art I can think of that is extremely popular but also (imo) totally abstract.
Well a sad melody will make you sad, and a happy melody will make you happy.

and Barry White will make you horny
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:59 PM   #15
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Just came to say, TS is a knob.



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Old 01-30-2013, 09:02 PM   #16
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Just because it is abstract does not mean it doesn't have meaning. I consider the pinnacle beauty of music to be the fact that it does convey meaningful abstractions. The classic adage holds true: where words fail, music speaks.

I think what you're referring to is programmatic or verbal expression. In that sense, music is meaningless. But that is precisely why it is so great. It's so much more universal and absolute than any earthly concept.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Hart
Not entirely, but poetry is much more than just the words.

T.S. Eliot, btw, was very much a student of musicality and music within poetry.

Music is not a 'realist' art form, unless you take what we oddly consider to be very abstract music such as soundbites and remixes of soundbites, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have inherent meaning.

Yeah, but rhythm and line breaks in a poem work in a totally different way.


Let me try and put this in different terms: You can adapt a poem (one with a narrative or even an image) into film, prose or even a book. You can adapt a film into a book, vice versa, etc. But you can't adapt music into into anything, you can only use it to help set the tone. I'm not saying this to devalue music or anything, quite the opposite: it's such a distinct artform in this manner.

By the way, I'm not using narrative as the only "meaningful" art. Like I said, it could be anything such as an idea, like death, or an image.


^ I don't disagree with anything in that post. I'm really just using the word "meaningless" wrong. Like I said, I'm not trying to put down music, I obviously love music. But a lot of the time I hear someone say "what does this song mean?" and I think, ****ing nothing. It's a song. It's the most purely subjective form of art there is. It can't be assigned any tangible meaning, only mood, and even that can be up for debate. It's almost ironic that music gets confused with poetry a lot, considering nowadays how much music has lyrics in it.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:14 PM   #18
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Ehh I don't care. I just wanna listen to it. Also, I only voted for violets are blue.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:20 AM   #19
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I sort of disagree and agree at the same time. Music can evoke a certain mood, and it can also evoke a scene in your head, using sounds that correlate with what you interpret that scene to entail.

A song could be an instrumental, play a bitchin' guitar solo, and in the background there is the sound of a car driving away. Wouldn't that cause a certain image to form in your mind? And depending on the context of the song, the emotions it provokes, the cause of that scene would have certain room for interpretation.

I may be talking out of my ass here, I dunno. All I'm saying is that sounds can cause images, and emotion evoked by that sound can warp those images. Music is just structured sound, and really some genres are built upon eradicating that definition.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiaoxi
Just because it is abstract does not mean it doesn't have meaning. I consider the pinnacle beauty of music to be the fact that it does convey meaningful abstractions. The classic adage holds true: where words fail, music speaks.

I think what you're referring to is programmatic or verbal expression. In that sense, music is meaningless. But that is precisely why it is so great. It's so much more universal and absolute than any earthly concept.


You know, while I respect your knowledge of music theory and compositional skills, I usually find your opinions about things of this nature arrogant and annoying.

But I pretty much agree with what you typed up here.

Edit:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ali.guitarkid7
But a lot of the time I hear someone say "what does this song mean?" and I think, ****ing nothing. It's a song. It's the most purely subjective form of art there is. It can't be assigned any tangible meaning, only mood, and even that can be up for debate.


If an artist says "I wrote this song because X", I think that's a pretty good explanation of its definition. It's not supposed to be easy to form a universal definition for.
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