Ontmeta0. What is the philosophy of jazz?
“Jazz too, evolving from humble beginnings that were sometimes hardly more than sociological manifestations of a particular American milieu, has developed as an art form that not only possesses a unique capacity for individual and collective expression, but in the process of maturing has gradually acquired certain intellectual properties. Its strength has been such that it has attracted interest in all strata of intellectual and creative activity. It is natural and inevitable that, in this ever broadening process, jazz will attract the hearts and minds of all manner of people with all manner of predilections and temperaments even those who will want to bring to jazz a roughly 500 year old musical idea, the notion of thematic and structural unity.” (Gunther Schuller in his "Sonny Rollins and the Challenge of Thematic Unity") (bold and bold italic not in original)
- 1 Why have a philosophy of jazz?
- 2 The need for multimedia argumentative platforms and delivery vehicles
- 3 Why use hypertext?
- 4 Problems for defining jazz
- 5 NOTES
Why have a philosophy of jazz?
All topics are inter-related just to varying degrees. Which questions a field of study, such as philosophy of jazz, focuses on are influenced by adjacent concerns. It is easier to start with an example to get this point across, then afterwards analyze the principles and features involved. So, the concretish example is where a philosopher makes a claim that challenges perceived wisdom had by actual jazz musicians in the field as being flawed, wrong, false, or not even wrong.
It isn't that the majority of jazz musicians couldn't all be mistaken about some aspect of jazz since there are many plausible scenarios that easily come to mind proving that the majority's opinion can be false. Consider, for example, if a famous jazz musician was believed by most not to be a homosexual, but later reliable and convincing evidence showed otherwise.
Of course, the majority of jazz experts could easily be wrong about some historical facts, just like they all might believe that the Hundred Years War lasted exactly one hundred years, which it didn't (116 years), so they are all wrong. But what about the majority's opinions about the nature of jazz? Surely they couldn't all be wrong about some essential component of what makes jazz be jazz!
But, first, why not? Of course too much philosophical weight is being put on the phrase "essential component." Is there any such thing in jazz as something essential? What exactly is that? Is essential here a sufficient condition? Is it a necessary condition? Which is it?
Without some explication of what is meant by "essential component" the question asked using it is empty and cannot possibly be answered, nor need it be addressed until it is known which essential component, how it is essential (sufficient or necessary), and justify why it is essential to jazz?
Second, scenarios are easy to envision where the majority of jazz musicians could have flawed judgments about a musical performance. Imagine that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie are transported back in time to 1910 New Orleans. Ragtime is all the rage. How would Parker and Gillespie's Bebop performances be judged by the majority of Dixielanders? We know the answer to this question because as sophisticated musically as Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong was, one of the music's greatest and renowned improvisers in the 1960s, and not 1910, is reported to have said that Bebop sounded like Chinese music to him. Presumably what this meant was well described by Stephen Sweeney in his blog BeBop is Vulgar Music:
“We have associated Eastern music with something that is different and, often, strange. Bebop was a strange form of jazz, and it was easy for listeners to describe it as Chinese with a negative connotation, labeling it strange and foreign, and perhaps unpleasant to listen to.”
Topics and concerns for a field of study are going to overlap other disciplines basically far afield from each other's interests. Hence, what determines the field are to what extent do these interests overlap and especially interact.
Philosophers of jazz often take their questions about jazz from questions that arise in textbooks on the history and development of jazz. What are the practices of jazz itself? What investigative problems in jazz can’t more research into music making by musicians make go away? Musicians may not have developed views on what constitutes an improvisation.
Let's explore this. If each phrase used in an improvisation had been previously played in that order could this new solo still count as an improvisation? Suppose I am a saxophone player who is improvising to the same song with the same musicians and rehearsing that song with an improvised solo striving to have the same improvisations each time. Undoubtedly, each improvised solo even when the musician tried to reproduce them exactly the same way each time would not all sound exactly and perfectly alike. Suppose this had been done ten times. Five of the solos are pretty close to each other in overall presentation, but the other five have some small but significant variations in notes, tones, structures, and so forth.
What should be said about these ten improvised solos? Should we say that five of them are the same solo, but the other five differing enough from each other and the other five are different improvisations? Is each of them a composition or only the first one that Biff then tried to play exactly the same way nine more times?
Are the answers to these questions ultimately arbitrary so any answer we give is as good as any other? Is this how our value systems work when judging the quality or originality of an improvised solo? Were all ten solos by Biff equally valuable or was the first one that all of the others are modeled after more valuable because it was first?
There are plenty of artistic achievements where it is important whether you did it first or not. Minimalist paintings are more valued if these were the earliest successful minimalist paintings. Now if one did the same type of painting it is likely it would be criticized as passé and already been done with now limited aesthetic interest.
These are just some of the questions that might be asked and musicians are likely not to be that concerned about the answers. Does it make any difference whether we say there are ten different solo improvisations or only one with variations?
Well, it could make a difference if you were getting payed to improvise ten different solos and you more or less played the same solo ten times.
Is jazz/rock fusion a sub-species of jazz or not? What differences would it make if we decided the question either way? Is it just arbitrary what answer we give? Why or why not? Does playing jazz/rock fusion help to answer the question of how much jazz is contained in a jazz/rock fusion performance?
What is the relationship that Latin jazz has to regular jazz? Is this a musical or philosophical question, or both? What is philosophical about questions relating Latin jazz to straight ahead jazz?
In Teorema, Julián Marrades Millet breaks down major topics in the philosophy of music in his "A View on the Philosophy of Music," as it has been pursued in Western philosophy over the last several decades.
“If we limit ourselves to the major topics that have been the focus of discussion in recent decades, we can group such topics into at least six main areas:
(1) Methodological issues concerning research on the philosophy of music (the debate on the definition of music; the choice of a theoretical framework to deal with the analysis of musicality; the difference between noises, sounds and tones; the debate between objectivism and subjectivism about musical phenomena; the opposition between `pure' and 'impure' music, etc.);
(2) Ontology of music (the clash between nominalism and idealism regarding the relationship between a musical `work' and its tokens or 'performances'; the controversy between fictionalism and realism, etc.);
(3) aesthetics of music (the basic properties of music; functionalist vs. culturalist theories; the distinction between `pure' and 'impure' music);
(4) Semantics of music (the semiotics of musical meaning; the link between music and text; the distinction between structure and content; the controversy between representationalism, expressivism and formalism, etc.);
(5) Nature of musical experience (psychological, cognitive and moral aspects of musical experience; musical expressiveness; skills and behavioral responses involved in musical understanding, etc.);
(6) Value of music (what makes musical experience valuable; what connections can be established between music and mysticism, between music and ineffability, between music and noise; between music and silence, etc.). (bold not in original)
Because the above are current and contemporary topics pursued in the philosophy of music generally it is easy to ask them again, yet more specifically focusing in on jazz.
(1) Jazz's methodological issues: what is the definition of jazz?; can jazz even be defined?; what significance would there be if jazz could not be defined?;
(2) Ontology of jazz: what musical work status do jazz performances and especially jazz improvisations have as musical works?;
(3) Aesthetics of jazz: the basic properties of jazz; what makes for good and bad jazz traits?; why jazz counter-examples definitions for what good music sounds like;
(4) Semantics of jazz: how is emotion expressed in jazz?; link between jazz interpretations and meaning;
(5) Nature of jazz experience: what can cognitive science discover about performing and especially improvising jazz musicians?; what do jazz musicians need to understand?;
(6) Value of jazz: what makes jazz valuable?; how to rate quality improvisations;
If a philosopher of jazz argues that two jazz songs can each be performances of the very same musical work, or of the same musical score, or that two improvised performances can be of the same song, then any theories that dispute this need to be confronted and the arguments commence. That's why philosophers of jazz concern themselves about issues of song identity.
Regardless of any particular position taken on song identity the interest remains for a philosopher of jazz because jazz musicians play songs. It can be as simple as that. The concepts and theories that include and consider major components of Jazz and its performances are going to be philosophy of jazz areas of investigation.
What are foundational concepts of jazz music if song counts as one of them:
- work of music
- nature of improvisation (spontaneous composition)
- flow state while playing jazz
- embodied cognition and distributed cognition and performance in duos, trios, quartets, quintets, septets, octets, duodecahedronets, etc.
- playing music
- what is music?
- how does culture come into play in music production?
- how does culture relate to the evaluations (good or bad) of qualities in music?
- when not to play
- good and bad ways to improvise
- types of jazz and their relationships to each other
- what is jazz? Can it be defined, why or why not?
A key recommendation made by the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas white paper on successful higher education policy was to make philosophy graduate student's intellectual work made public: White Paper on the Future of the Ph.D. in the Humanities
“One way to rethink graduate education is by way of this Kantian idea of the inherent public character of scholarship. We propose that students’ work should become more public and more oriented toward the world. Publicity confers a measure of relevance and permanence on the work students do. Their most accomplished research should be able to move beyond the seminar room and the library into a potentially innumerable readership and into a space of discourse oriented toward futurity. The work should, in principle, join with other work in ongoing conversations about matters of public concern.”
A possible way to achieve this goal is to write and edit for PhilosophyOfJazz.net (poj.fm)! Although it is harder to prove that you, a particular person and actual author, produced this work because no names of authorship are permitted on poj.fm pages. Nevertheless, for the purposes of resumes, C.V.'s, seminars, and so forth, one CAN establish and justify authorship by the following means. First, you claim that you were the original author of this particular section or sections of poj.fm. Furthermore, because the software keeps track of each and every editor and when that person wrote what every minute of the day by looking at this history one can establish one's authorship of any content in new sections at that time and put it into a report, if necessary.
Robert Kraut, in his seminal paper, "Why Does Jazz Matter To Aesthetic Theory," explains that jazz is a musical art form. Aesthetic theories, whatever they are, must include in their theorizing all artforms. Therefore, aesthetic theory must include jazz in its purview.
He points out that we need both to know what aesthetic theory is supposed to explain and what kind of music jazz consists of:
“So we need to know more about what an aesthetic theory is supposed to do—what sorts of questions it is intended to answer, what sorts of explanations and/or justifications it is supposed to provide. We also need to know more about what sort of music counts as jazz.”
So, right here we have a justification in aesthetics for investigating the philosophy of jazz.
Why do we need to find out "what sort of music counts as jazz"? Kraut justifies this investigation by explaining that "Jazz performances are part of the data, and thus part of the tribunal by which aesthetic theories must be tested and evaluated."
Furthermore, it is the music of jazz we wish to investigate. What makes it tick musically and how does it relate to all other forms of music? What's so special about jazz as a form of music?
Parallels between philosophy of physics and philosophy of jazz 
To provide an overview of the state-of-the-art of the philosophy of jazz, these can be specified as the central tasks. First, philosophy of jazz is concerned with the interpretation of theories about jazz, which in many cases can inform philosophical discussions, e.g. on improvisation, composition, the status of free jazz, or requirements for works of music. Second, philosophy of jazz is concerned with ‘foundational issues' in fundamental jazz, regarded as currently the most interesting and important problems in the philosophy of jazz. Similar themes are evoked in other contemporary textbooks and collections on the nature and properties of jazz so when questions are raised in these books these are important ones to address and answer.
Philosophers of jazz don’t just accept what musicians might say about jazz; a large part of their job is to interpret the theories about issues surrounding and related to jazz and thus assess competing points of view. Additional tasks for philosophers of jazz: they assess the epistemic claims made by musicians and theorists, which often involves the critical reflection on naive beliefs; and they contribute to the foundational development of jazz theories.
However, it is not always entirely clear, first, what exactly is meant by interpretation and, second, why interpreting theories should be of genuine interest only to the philosopher of jazz and not so much to the jazz musicians. However, there is a difference in that jazz performers are often much more pragmatic than philosophers of jazz in ignoring theoretical issues so that they can go about and get on with playing the music.
Philosophy of jazz explores fundamental issues in all areas of philosophy, but especially in aesthetics, methodology, fundamental concepts, and jazz's epistemology and ontology. Philosophers of jazz may ask methodological questions about how knowledge is acquired in jazz. For example, they may ask to what extent the college educated players all sound alike compared to players from the school of hard knocks. Secondly, they have a conceptual interest in elaborating and clarifying the meaning of central concepts in jazz, such as musical works, improvisations, or issues in race and gender in jazz history. The third main task for philosophers of jazz is the formulation and evaluation of suitable ontologies for specific definitions of jazz. Since—in contrast to general philosophy—these ontologies are always tailored towards a given jazz theory, they can be characterized more exactly as a mapping of certain elements of the given theory to entities (e.g. songs, improvisations, freedom or which sub-genres should or should not be included under the species of jazz), to which the theory is supposed to include or excude. Mostly, the basic types or categories of entities are characterized by certain general features, such as definitions, musical practices and conventions, relations between sub-genres of jazz. Ideally, a basic type is defined by a set of necessary category features which, taken together, are sufficient for membership in that category. Moreover, comprehensive ontologies for a given jazz theory are usually required to be parsimonious and empirically adequate. That is, one should posit as few types of basic entities as possible in order to understand how the theory describes the world and predictions based on the ontology should be in agreement with empirical results.
Although the described meta-issues clearly do not belong to the core preoccupations of most jazz musicians, repeatedly in the history of jazz, such methodological, conceptual, and ontological questions have sometimes moved to the foreground. Is Bebop really jazz?, Is free jazz really jazz? How much jazz is contained in jazz/rock fusion?
The boundary between jazz practices of musicians and the philosophy of jazz is blurry. Philosophy of jazz takes jazz knowledge as its starting point but sometimes also contributes to philosophical knowledge. The distinction between jazz practices and the philosophy of jazz is particularly unclear concerning foundational questions.
Philosophy of jazz is interested in foundational problems of jazz theories. Philosophers of jazz show a vivid interest in conceptual ambiguities or even inconsistencies both within and between jazz theories. For instance, philosophers of jazz are deeply engaged in debates regarding the possibility or impossibility of defining jazz, with large groups of defenders on both sides. Of course, such problems are sometimes addressed by jazz players, such as Dave Liebman or Derek Bailey, as well, though much more rarely, in particular if taking into account the relative number of jazz players and the more limited number of philosophers of jazz.
Philosophers of jazz often engage in inquiries that are very similar to those of jazz theorists in general working during periods of musical crises, such as the neo-conservative views on the nature of jazz supported by Wynton Marsalis. When, during a conceptual crisis, philosophers of jazz become concerned with foundational issues they abandon or at least question essential parts of the respective former theoretical positions regarding jazz elements and thus choose to leave the previous theories. At this point, they are prepared to view conceptual problems as genuine anomalies that are most likely not solvable by conventional means within the orthodoxy of a paradigm. The philosopher of jazz shares this critical attitude with regards to the foundations. It thus comes as no surprise that philosophy of jazz shows a number of characteristics that Thomas Kuhn describes for science in crisis: the existence of different schools, the lack of agreement between these schools in particular concerning metaphysical assumptions, the interest in questions of method, the willingness to address an audience beyond its own limited academic philosophical community, and enter into outside areas including cognitive science, neurology, social practices in jazz, gender studies, technological influences, legal issues regarding intellectual property rights regarding music, etc.
Philosophy of jazz takes a pluralistic, non-partisan approach to concepts and theories concerning jazz. While many jazz theorists tend to be stubborn about its basic assumptions or at least pragmatic about neglecting alternatives that are not in any essential ways better than the orthodox approaches, philosophy of jazz is deeply interested in the assessment of alternative approaches. And indeed, the philosophy of jazz literature contains numerous discussions of alternative theories. Philosophers of jazz habitually talk about and take seriously whether musical works are abstract objects pre-existing before discovered by composers, or not. Moreover, philosophers of jazz are vividly interested in how fundamental notions change in theoretical contexts, for example, are jazz improvisations entirely spontaneous or not. If a musician has practiced a lick and then includes it in her solo was it completely spontaneous or not?
Philosophy of jazz strives to be historically informed. This issue is of course closely connected with the previous item. If the outlook of philosophy of jazz is in general pluralistic, then one should ensure that all plausible competitors to a theory were taken into account. Often, the quality and soundness of arguments depends on this. Since human imagination is unfortunately quite limited and the elaboration of alternatives seems to require the concerted efforts of several people over a rather long period of time, all available sources for alternatives must be consulted. Of course, the largest repository is the history of jazz and jazz theory. To assess the spectrum of conceptual and methodological possibilities, historical knowledge is indispensable. Again, this fits well with observations regarding jazz practice. While philosophers of jazz habitually engage with historical works and a number of them even carry out historical studies themselves, the historical ignorance and the frequent reference to historical pseudo-accounts in jazz textbooks is lamented.
Philosophy of jazz makes normative claims about the methods of jazz and are interested in the scope and limits of jazz knowledge. It is a truism that one can often learn at least as much from failure as from success, which holds also with respect to jazz hypotheses and theories. The interest in alternatives puts the philosopher of jazz in an excellent position to assess claims about jazz methods and to evaluate methodological arguments within jazz. If a theory makes adequate predictions, what can this tell us about the jazz universe?
Philosophy of jazz has an eye on the social boundary conditions under which research in jazz is carried out and tries to situate jazz within the broader spectrum of human knowledge. One must at least consider the possibility of social factors to influence the development of jazz. To be sure, this is not to say that social factors necessarily play a role for the development of jazz. Rather, we want to make the much weaker point that an assessment of jazz, if it wants to be complete, at least has to consider the possibility that external factors like broader social and ideological conditions or the psychology of influential musicians and/or jazz theorists have a lasting impact on jazz.
The need for multimedia argumentative platforms and delivery vehicles
When commenting upon and comparing the two music documentaries titled "Rock and Roll" (produced by the BBC) and the American produced Ken Burns's "Jazz," reviewer David Shumway remarks on the persuasive power these multimedia presentations have, including still pictures, panning/motion of still pictures (actually named after Ken Burns), black and white as well as color imagery and videos, flashy graphics, superior voice overs, stimulating interviews, and so forth) that more traditional past academic practices of primarily arguing with words on paper placing academics at a disadvantage for convincing the masses of correct explanations and appropriate conclusions.
“These [e.g., Ken Burns's "Jazz"] popular or "middle brow" interpretations compete with academic ones, and are likely to do so successfully since they can combine images and music with the verbal analysis that is the only medium in which the academic typically works. The role that these multimedia productions play in contemporary intellectual life is a marker of postmodernity. The printed word is losing its role as the primary form in which culture is interpreted and history is narrated. Thus, I am interested in understanding not only what these documentaries say, but also how they say it—in part to begin to think about how cultural studies might be able to use this medium for its own ends (should the present financial barriers ever be lifted). So far, academics have managed to make use of the visual possibilies of digital and electronic media only to a limited extent, mainly in the form of supplements to textbooks. But if Cultural Studies is to reach an audience beyond the academy, it will need to exploit these media much more fully in the future.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
Heeding this advice, poj.fm represents this more inclusive multimedia approach for delivery of academically oriented materials, as advocated by Shumway. Furthermore, the power of the computer combined with the internet provides great power and resources for intellectual connections because of the ability to interconnect myriad topics and relevant materials using hyperlinks that Shumway does not mention during his review. By incorporating hyperlinks, a text gets supercharged and becomes itself hypertext. The numerous advantages of hypertext and hypermedia are immediately apparent and welcomed by anyone seeking instant access to information and explananations of concepts, word meanings, images related to text, animated gifs, and access to all that an integrated internet of information is capable of making spontaneously available at a users clicking on any area of interest. This approach enables the easy-to-use publication of information over the Internet making it publicly available to anyone with computer access to the internet.
Besides having immediate access to individual pieces of information, users can pursue their individual interests at progressively multiple levels of detail, skipping over already familiar and understood concepts, theories, or ideas, and tackling material at any depth from superficial, shallow overviews back down into arcane, complexified, or mystifying topics of their immediate concerns.
Hypertext and hypermedia provide users with easy and convenient access to data of immediate concerns permitting quick learning and/or surveying a field of study or area of interest. A reader can pursue with unprecedented freedom choosing what part of the whole he or she wishes to read next, as well as how the system should behave with respect to the reader's choices and manipulations of hypergraphics.
It is not only text that can be hyperlinked, but also many other forms of data such as links to tables, images, videos, music, and other presentational content formats with integrated hyperlinks.
The hypermedia approach also comes with a lot of pop and pizzazz from beautifully colored and vibrant images, titles, text, and motion. Dynamic, interactive, shiny, colorful presentations will usually be much more entertaining, more informative, and easier to recall than duller static presentation mediums as in traditional academic journal articles. Computerized hypermedia certainly has all of these excellent features. Hypergraphics creates multidimensional explorable pictures and media potentially having interaction between itself and a user. Ultimately, hypersystems are ones where users can explore complex information at their own pace and in their own way.
By having material linked together via a computerized internet enables non-sequential organizations of information. This permits users to browse among non-sequentially organized anything, jumping to new or unrelated areas of interest as the need or use of unrelated material catches the attention of a user. Additionally, users can now edit, annotate, reply to, comment upon material that can later be accessed by others or even by oneself. Such annotation capacities can lend new clarity as well as justifications or criticisms and objections to previously established material and texts thereby advancing knowledge.
Why use hypertext?
He presciently realized before computerized hypertexting was possible (could occur now) much of what has come to fruition via the world wide web and the internet. Nelson conceives of hypertext as, by definition, non-sequentially linked information. Of course, this does not prevent such hypertext from still having sequentially based information as well, nor does hypertext require any computers or computerized linkages. In the quotations below, Nelson provides non-computerized examples of hyper-text including some magazine layouts or the front pages of newspapers as qualifying as hyper-text.
“By hypertext, I mean non-sequential writing—text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen. As popularly conceived, this is a series of text chunks connected by links that offer the reader different pathways.” (bold not in original)
“HYPERTEXT DEFINED: By hypertext I simply mean non-sequential writing. A magazine layout, with sequential text and inset illustrations and boxes, is thus hypertext. So is the front page of a newspaper, and so are various programmed books now seen on the drugstore stands (where you make a choice at the end of a page, and are directed to other specific pages). Computers are not intrinsically involved with the hypertext concept. But computers will be involved with hypertext in every way, and in systems of every style. (Ideally, you the reader shall be free to choose the next thing to look at—though repressive forms of hypertext do turn up.)” (bold and bold italic not in original)
“Extending the notion slightly, we get windowing hypertext—where nonsequential writings—hypertexts—window to other stored materials. It is this notion, then, of windowing or compound hypertext—which we foresee as the vital and basic new information system of the future—that has charged and inspired the present work. (bold and bold italic not in original)
Nelson, once having discovered the fundamental power of the ability of hypertext linking and its capacity to be used non-sequentially put a lot of thought into how this could work and how it compared to earlier informational delivery systems that for practical purposes, according to Nelson, had to proceed so as to be organized and presented sequentially.
Nelson has a lot of opinions about the strengths and weaknesses, the advantages and disadvantages, of informational systems fundamental structure being sequentially or non-sequentially presented.
As philosophers we are obligated to investigate, explore, and develop these conceptions of sequencing being referred to so often. The intuitive idea is fairly clear. A sequential presentation proceeds in an orderly manner with first things first and third things third. Non-sequential sequencing permits the second thing be investigated by the user prior to investigating the first thing.
➢ What makes information be in a sequential presentation? What is it that achieves the relative ordering of the information presented?
While there is no absolute answer available to humans the fundamental assumptions are that the information be presented in an orderly manner. Again, what determines this order will vary, but to provide a more concrete sense of such an ordering consider how students are often instructed in how to present an argument or a paper with arguments. The order can be, first, you tell the reader what it is you will be attempting to prove, then you prove it, next you might consider objections to the conclusion in the reasoning used to derive it, lastly, you review and summarize how you proved it and what it's significance is given that it is true. Put simply, first you tell them what you are going to tell them, then you tell them, and lastly you tell them what you told them. This is a sequential ordering for an informational presentation. Were one first to consider an objection to your thesis the reader would not yet have necessarily been convinced that the thesis you are now objecting to is true in the first place so it would be out of place to start a paper or talk this way without generating confusion, consternation, befuddlement, and quite probably annoyance in your readers or audience. Still, suppose the reader already is convinced of the main thesis and her first interest is to see how the presentation addresses this particular objection. If this were the case then going out of order could be appropriate because it is what the reader wants to investigate first. Here is how hypertext linkings can be appropriately out of order and still be useful and practical.
Ted Nelson Quotations on hypertext
“Unfortunately, for thousands of years the idea of sequence has been too much with us, because nothing else has been practical; and indeed, creating a system subtle and profound enough to meet our real needs has proven to be an extensive task indeed. The structure of ideas is never sequential; and indeed, our thought processes are not very sequential either. True, only a few thoughts at a time pass across the central screen of the mind; but as you consider a thing, your thoughts crisscross it constantly, reviewing first one connection, then another. Each new idea is compared with many parts of the whole picture, or with some mental visualization of the whole picture itself. It is the representation of whole structures of ideas, and placing them on the page for others to understand, that we call writing. Writing is the representation and the presentation of thought.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
(So are pictures and diagrams; but they are intrinsically nonsequential, and so not relevant to the present argument.) (bold not in original)
Computer presentational media, coming soon. will not be technically determined but rather will be new realms for human artistry. This point of view radically affects how we design man-machine systems of any kind, especially those for information retrieval, teaching, and general writing and reading. Some practitioners see such systems as narrowly technical, with the computer hoisting up little pieces of writing on some "scientific" basis and showing them to you one grunt at a time. A Metrical banquet. I disagree. The systems should be opulent.
3) The problem in presentational systems of any kind is to make things look good, feel right, and come across clearly. The things that matter are the feel of the system, the user's state of mind, his possible confusion, boredom or enthusiasm, the problems of communicating concepts, and the very nature of concepts and their interconnection. There will never be a "science" of presentation, except as it relates to these things.
4) Not the nature of machines, but the nature of ideas, is what matters. It is incredibly hard to develop, organize and transmit ideas, and it always will be. But at least in the future we won't be booby-trapped by the nature of paper. We can design magic paper. It is time to start using computers to hold information for the mind much as books have held this information in the past. Now information for the mind is very different from "information for the computer" as we have thought of it, hacked up and compressed into blocks. Instead we can stretch the computer.
I am proposing a curious kind of subversion. "Let us design," I say; and when people see the systems, everybody will want one. All I want to do is put Renaissance humanism in a multidimensional responsive console. And I am trying to work out the forms of writing of the future. Hypertexts.
Hypertexts: new forms of writing, appearing on computer screens, that will branch or perform at the reader's command. A hypertext is a non-sequential piece of writing; only the computer display makes it practical. Somewhere between a book, a TV show and a penny arcade, the hyper-text can be a vast tapestry of information, all in plain English (spiced with a few magic tricks on the screen which the reader may attack and play for the things he wants, branching and jumping on the screen, using simple controls as if he were driving a car. There can be specialized subparts for specialized interests, instant availability of relevancies in all directions, footnotes that are books themselves. Hyper-texts will be so much better than ordinary writing that the printed word will wither away. Real writing by people, make no mistake, not data banks, robot summaries or other clank. mA person is writing to other people, just as before, but on magical paper he can cut up and tie in knots and fly around on.
“'Hypertext' is a recent coinage. 'Hyper-' is used in the mathematical sense of extension and generality (as in 'hyperspace,' 'hypercube') rather than the medical sense of 'excessive' ('hyperactivity'). There is no implication about size— a hypertext could contain only 500 words or so. 'Hyper-' refers to structure and not size.
— Theodor H. Nelson, "Brief Words on the Hypertext," January 23, 1967.
The English prefix "hyper-" comes from the Greek prefix "ὑπερ-" and means "over" or "beyond"; it has a common origin with the prefix "super-" which comes from Latin. It signifies the overcoming of the previous linear constraints of written text.
The term "hypertext" is often used where the term "hypermedia" might seem appropriate. In 1992, author Ted Nelson – who coined both terms in 1963 – wrote:
“By now the word "hypertext" has become generally accepted for branching and responding text, but the corresponding word "hypermedia", meaning complexes of branching and responding graphics, movies and sound – as well as text – is much less used. Instead they use the strange term "interactive multimedia": this is four syllables longer, and does not express the idea of extending hypertext.”
— Nelson, "Literary Machines," 1992
What are the advantages of using hypertext?
In October, 1962, researcher Douglas C. Engelbart published his own version of Vannevar Bush's vision as represented in Bush's 1945 paper, "As We May Think,", wherein Engelbart describes an advanced electronic information system in "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework." Engelbart prepared this as a summary report of his research for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Development. In this report Engelbart describes the non-sequentiality of hypertext.
“Most of the structuring forms I'll show you stem from the simple capability of being able to establish arbitrary linkages between different substructures, and of directing the computer subsequently to display a set of linked substructures with any relative positioning we might designate among the different substructures. You can designate as many different kinds of links as you wish, so that you can specify different display or manipulative treatment for the different types.”  (bold and bold italics not in original)
Problems for defining jazz
➢ Problem 1: Is it true or how should we understand the African influence and European influence in music and how they came to be amalgamated within jazz. Was it primarily or exclusively the originally African oriented musicians who were responsible for incorporating European music into their African music, or was it the other way around? Or, was it a joint and mutual venture where one should not give any precedence to one over the other regarding priority. This balanced point of view appears to be contravened by Thomas E. Larson's assertion in the following quotation from his textbook, Modern Sounds: The Artistry of Contemporary Jazz, that it was Africans who incorporated European musical elements into their African music. Additionally, Larson believes that because there were predominantly more slaves and people of color, especially Africans in the Southern states, that this accounts for why early jazz was not found to exist in the Northern cities and states.
“The incubation period for the creation of jazz goes back to the very beginning of slavery in early 1600s. It was only after nearly 300 years of the two musical traditions-African and European-coming in contact with each other that the birth of jazz took place. It is important to remember that it was 19th century African-Americans who were motivated for various reasons (discussed in chapter 2) to incorporate elements of European music into their own musical tradition. This is why jazz was born in New Orleans and other cities in the south, not in the northern states.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
- Objection to the claim that all early jazz came from New Orleans and only Southern cities of the United States: The claim that early jazz came exclusively from Southern cities is doubtful. If by early jazz we mean 1915-1920 then jazz also exists early on in northern and non-Southern cities including Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Los Angeles, etc. Prove it with history and dates. When does Jelly Roll Morton go north, or Bix Biederbecke come from Iowa, or King Oliver to Chicago, Sidney Bechet in Paris, etc.
➢ Problem 2: What are the problems and objections if only using a guidelines to jazz approach to characterize what music exhibits jazz? Can a grab bag approach succeed in defining/characterizing jazz as Thomas E. Larson does in his textbook, Modern Sounds: The Artistry of Contemporary Jazz. Larson finds it practically impossible to define jazz because jazz “is performed in so many styles and its influence can be heard in so many other types of music [making it] nearly impossible to come up with a set of hard and fast rules to define jazz.”
Larson therefore suggests an alternative to supplying hard and fast rules for jazz and “instead, to define jazz, it is helpful to think of a set of loose guidelines that are followed to one degree or another during the course of a jazz performance. Here are five basic guidelines: (1) Improvisation, (2) Rhythm, (3) Dissonance, (4) Jazz Interpretation, and (5) Interaction. For further discussion on Larson's proposed definition for jazz see Assessment of Thomas E. Larson's characterization of jazz.
Let us consider these five guidelines in turn. Improvisation cannot define jazz because many non-jazz musics, including the blues, country, rock and roll, and Indian musicians all use improvisation regularly during performances. There is no rhythm that is unique to jazz. Furthermore syncopation is used in blues performances and rock performances, among others. Many music's besides jazz uses dissonance and have individualized sounds as in cajun music, zydeco, blues, and even heavy metal all can have distinctive sonic inflections used to communicate emotions and other things. Nor is one permitted to define jazz as including the concept of "jazz interpretation" when defining jazz or one is defining something in a non-helpful circular manner. Lastly, interaction, as even Larsen points out, is used by all musicians when playing in non-solo settings. It is not distinctive of only jazz.
Larson might defend his five guidelines by claiming that jazz musicians use these five guidelines properties in greater proportion than other musics use them. Unfortunately, this too seems false as well as difficult to quantify. Do blues musicians improvise more or less than jazz musicians? Probably rappers improvise at least as much in proportion to any previously prepared music. Hence, it is false that jazz musicians improvise significantly more than non-jazz musicians.
How about rhythm, dissonance, or musical interpretation and individualized musical expressions or group interactivity? Again, many non-jazz musics have all of these features and often to a high proportion. There can be a lot of dissonance, to say the least, in a punk band's performances.
- Objection to a loose set of guidelines approach: A loose set of guidelines, or grab bag approach, is just too weak to be satisfactory for characterizing and defining jazz. Justify with an explanation why it is not satisfactory if the musicians do not care why should anyone care? Is this an important question? IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN. Suppose there exists a better definition that picks out all and only jazz with plus or minus error margins or just to a large degree. This would be better over a looser set of requirements that cannot pick out all and only jazz or has a higher margin for error. It is rational to prefer a definition that purports to be defining the definens that captures either more of the phenomena or more accurately in some category better categorizes the phenomena. We prefer the definition (T1) for defining tiger over definition (T2).
- (T1) A tiger is a solitary and territorial large carnivorous orange and black striped predatory mammal (although some are golden (few or no stripes) and some are white such as Bengal tigers) with a white underside and a powerful body, strong forelegs, large head, and a long tail.
- (T2) A tiger is a large striped animal found in India, Russia, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Cambodia, Asia, Sudan, and Brunei.
Both definitions are highly detailed and each has information that the other one lacks. Why then prefer, or commend as superior, the first one (T1) with a better description of the traits of the animal itself over (T2) that emphasizes a tiger's natural habitats currently found on planet Earth Answer: because this is what we wanted to know about when we were asking to define a tiger. We were not asking the more specific question of where are a tiger's habitats, which is a secondary characteristic and not limited to future expansions or demotions of the species's locales. The properties of the tiger itself are much more likely to remain stable over time and it is these traits then that are more suitable for identifying the object under question. Similarly then for defining jazz too. A better definition of jazz would include the properties that make the music be jazz and not just, say, the locales where jazz can be found, just as in the tiger example.
➢ Problem 3: QUESTION: Could jazz have an essence? If jazz has no essence, then what is holding it together? How does the music itself contribute to what music is jazz? Suppose someone held that the music of jazz is irrelevant for defining it since it doesn't have any essence to begin with as reflected in the following quotation.
“Nothing in the previous practice [of past jazz genres] signaled that certain styles, and not others, would count as jazz later. Nor is it likely that actual jazz history reflects a more principled, strategic, elegant, or otherwise defensible program than all counter-factual ones.”  (bold and bold italic not in original)
It might then seem to follow that if jazz lacks any intrinsic nature then it can be arbitrarily lumped in with any other kind of music and called by a new name, say we call it jaqqazz (pronounced Ja-kazz). Does jaqqazz now exist as an independent musical genre? Arguably not, and to better understand why not see the arguments against it at "What arguments prove the Nazi critics are mistaken that Bebop is not jazz?" regarding "country opera".
➢ Problem 4: Can arbitrary institutions dictate what constitutes jazz as a music? No, see why jazz is not an institutionally mandated practice.
➢ Problem 5: Are there then ANY restrictions placed upon what could constitute jazz? Yes, it has to be music. Justification: any definition of jazz that did not have that the object under consideration was a genre of music would no longer be defining what is meant generally by all competent speakers of the native English language when referring to jazz as a genre of music. For example, consider the absurdity of the situation if someone said jazz is identical to and so correctly defined as the windshield wiper's found on automobiles then their proposed definition gets ruled out as irrelevant because jazz cannot be the same thing as a windshield washer on a car. Indeed, there are several necessary conditions for playing jazz.
➢ Problem 6: Who determines what features are and are not relevant for defining jazz? Could it be musicians? It is most unclear and probably false that jazz musicians, while undoubtedly experts in playing jazz do not need to be proficient in characterizing what it is that they are performing as an overall definition for their genre of music. They do not need to be experts in philosophy or in philosophy of jazz in order to be experts at playing jazz.
➢ Problem 7: Are there any experts that are already experts in the philosophy of jazz? While it is true that knowledge and expertise regarding the philosophy of jazz does come in degrees with some experts being more knowledgeable and insightful than other experts there is no one particular final word on the subject decisive experts. Here the answer is clearly that there are no decisive experts in the philosophy of jazz such that whatever this person's opinion happens to currently be determines what is actually true about a subject in this field of study.
➢ How can this be known that there are no decisive experts whose word is final on any particular topic that falls within the philosophy of jazz?
- ANSWER: It is because not all answers are known for any field of study or intellectual endeavors. Humans are not omniscient and we have to figure stuff out on our own. Even if God, an omniscient being, tells you that "All A's are B's" that doesn't mean that you understand what is being said. As an evaluator, even after being given perfect knowledge from an omniscient being, you have to evaluate what this information implies, its significance, how to verify it, how to falsify it (it can only seem false since it is a true claim made by a truth telling omniscient being). What happens if other people challenge that "All A's are B," then as philosophers we want to be able to justify and explain all sorts of possible stuff about "All A's being B's" such as why is it true, could it have been false, how does this knowledge affect your earlier knowledge about B's, and so forth. Are there other ways to prove that "All A's are B" besides appealing to knowledge given by an omniscient being?
Explain the differences between a stronger and a weaker definition. The strongest definitions not only pick out all and only their definiens but also explain why these properties can have consequences and the advantages and disadvantages of the properties of the definiens. The best definitions explain why the thing has the properties that it does to relate to the rest of the universe.
- "Sonny Rollins and the Challenge of Thematic Unity," Gunther Schuller, The Jazz Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, (November, 1958).
- "A View on the Philosophy of Music," Julián Marrades Millet, Teorema, p. 15.
- "Why Does Jazz Matter to Aesthetic Theory?," Robert Kraut, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Winter, 2005), p. 3. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1559135.
- This entire section is modeled after the issues raised in "What Is and Why Do We Need Philosophy of Physics?," Issue editors: Meinhard Kuhlmann and Wolfgang Pietsch, Journal for General Philosophy of Science, Special Issue: Philosophy of Physics, Vol. 43, Issue 2, December 2012, pp. 209–212. Published online: 23 January 2013, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013. DOI: 10.1007/s10838-012-9204-2. ISSN: 0925-4560 (Print) 1572-8587 (Online).
- See Robert Kraut's "Why Jazz is Essential to Aethetics."
- "Why Rock and Roll Is Better Than Jazz," David Shumway, Genre, Vol. XXXIV, Fall-Winter, published by the University of Oklahoma, 2001, pp. 291-306, quotation from p. 292.
- "Ted Nelson Discovers Hypertext."
- Ted Nelson, biography at History-Computer.com.
- Literary Machines, Theodor H. Nelson, May 1987, p. 2 (of 18), upper right.
- Literary Machines, Theodor H. Nelson, May 1987, p. 15 (of 18).
- Literary Machines, Theodor H. Nelson, May 1987, p. 15 (of 18), upper right.
- "Selected Papers 1965-1977," Theodor H. Nelson, Swathmore Alumni Issue, December 1970, hand-numbered pp. 10-14 with circled ⭕️ numbers. Also available in a different layout at Monoskop.org.
- "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework," Douglas Engelbart, October 1962 Summary Report prepared for the Director of Information Sciences, Air Force Office of Scientific Research. This report (AFOSR-3233) describes a study carried on at the Stanford Research Institute under the joint sponsorship of the Institute and the Directorate of Information Sciences of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
- Modern Sounds: The Artistry of Contemporary Jazz, "Appendix A: Understanding and Defining Jazz," Thomas E. Larson, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2008, p. 267. (See also 2nd edition, 2011).
- Modern Sounds: The Artistry of Contemporary Jazz, "Appendix A: Understanding and Defining Jazz," Thomas E. Larson, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2008, p. 267.
- Modern Sounds: The Artistry of Contemporary Jazz, "Appendix A: Defining and Understanding Jazz," Thomas E. Larson, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2008, p. 268. (Bold not in original).
- Wikipedia: Tiger. The map shows how tiger's habitats have been decimated over time and as of 2018 there are fewer than 4,000 tigers. Wikipedia: Tiger reports that “Since the beginning of the 20th century, tigers' historical range has shrunk by 93%. In the decade from 1997 to 2007, the estimated area known to be occupied by tigers has declined by 41%.”
- "What is Music? Is There A Definitive Answer?," Jonathan McKeown-Green, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 72, no. 4, September, 2014, p. 397.