Ontmusic3. What is a song?
- Click or tap on any subheading of the Contents Outline and you are taken to that section on this page.
- Click or tap on any Question/Topic and its page opens up. Any words below colored in bold in these instructions are hot links to the area designated. Click or tap on them to go to that area.
- If you have submitted your email in the Join Us link (located in the upper right corner on the top of the HOME page menu bar or under the Navigation menu on top left of eqach page) and have received a confirmation reply email, you may then edit the website as a writer/editor.
- To Login as a writer/editor, click on Personal located at the top left of the page, then click on login. To upload an image it must be either a .jpg, .jpeg, .png, or .gif and preferably a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose and free for personal and even commercial use. They can be modified, copied and distributed without asking for permission or setting a link to the source, so that attribution is not required. Click on the Tools menu bar located at top of page on right then fifth item down that says Upload file. Please read under the Wiki menu (located on home page or under Navigation menu), PoJ.fm's Format Philosophy for the Procedures and Protocols for uploading an image.
- 1 Discussion
- 2 SONG IDENTITY
- 3 What is song structure?
- 4 Do birds have songs?
- 5 Why birds sing
- 6 When is it the same song?
- 7 Intention is insufficient to determine song identity
- 8 Intention is relevant for song production
- 9 Is the question being begged against a non-intentional music production?
- 10 Julian Dodd's Possible Response to the 'Rock' version of "Well You Needn't"
- 11 Why music cannot be produced by nature
- 12 What is culture?
- 13 Why Intentional Agency is Necessary for Music Production
- 14 Implications for Sonicism
- 14.1 Christopher Bartel's Epistemological Problem for Dodd
- 14.2 Objections to Sonicism
- 14.2.1 OS0: Identical Sound Sequences Don't Have To Have The Same Meaning
- 14.2.2 OS1: If Musical Production Requires an Intentional Agent then Sonicism is a False Doctrine
- 14.2.3 OS2: Aesthetic Properties Cannot Be Exclusively Physical Properties
- 14.2.4 OS3: Performance of Musical Works Necessarily Require the Possibility of a Commendation Scale
- 14.2.5 Julian Dodd's Possible Response To Above in Defense of Sonicism
- 14.2.6 OS4: Two Non-acoustically non-Identical Songs Can Be the Same Musical Work
- 14.2.7 Reasons to Believe Non-sonically non-Identical Performances Can Be of the Same Song
- 15 Internet Resources on Songs
- 16 NOTES
“After this, then,” said I, “comes the manner of song and tunes?” “Obviously.” “And having gone thus far, could not everybody discover what we must say of their character in order to conform to what has already been said?” “I am afraid that 'everybody' does not include me,” laughed Glaucon; “I cannot sufficiently divine off-hand what we ought to say, though I have a suspicion.” “You certainly, I presume,” said I, [398d] “have sufficient understanding of this—that the song is composed of three things, the words, the tune, and the rhythm?” “Yes,” said he, “that much.”
Plato, Republic, Book III, (398c-398d)
Why Philosophy of Jazz Investigates Song Identity
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 majorities 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 performance 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.
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 some fundamental things to investigate in philosophy of jazz 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?
- justification and aesthetic testimony about jazz performances
What is a song?
Wikipedia on song: A song is a single (and often standalone) work of music intended to be sung by the human voice with distinct and fixed pitches and patterns using sound and silence and a variety of forms that often include the repetition of sections. Written words created specifically for music or for which music is specifically created are called lyrics.
The word "song" is ambiguous. As a noun, it has two basic meanings lyrical music or music lacking lyrics, which are clearly not equivalent. The primary (and stricter) meaning is as lyrical music:
- (1) a short poem, or other set of words, set to music and meant to be sung. We could summarize this with lyrics put to music, or lyrical music. Similarly, singing or vocal music with words or symbols sung.
The second common usage is simpler and does not require words be sung. This common usage meaning is non-lyrical.
- (2) a musical composition (suggestive of a song). Largely, these are instrumentals with no singing. This is another meaning used for song: the non-lyrical usage.
According to standard dictionaries synonyms for song include: air, strain, ditty, melody, tune, number, show tune, track, anthem, hymn, chanty, ballad, and aria. Of course, each of the items listed as synonyms have features in addition to their being called songs that makes them have that vocabulary so the items in the synonyms list are not identical as object types.
- Generally speaking, the song category would be the genus while ditty, show tune, anthem, hymn, chanty, ballad, and aria are the species all falling under the genus of song.
- The remaining synonyms are also accountable. Certainly one can make the case that tune, number, and track are more or less equivalent to the looser usage of the meaning of song which lacks lyrics. A track on a record could contain bird songs.
What is song structure?
Wikipedia on song structure: Song structure or the musical forms of songs in traditional music and popular music are typically sectional, repeating forms used in songs, such as strophic form and is a part of the songwriting process. Other common forms include thirty-two-bar form, verse-chorus form, and the twelve-bar blues? Popular music songs traditionally use the same music for each verse of stanza of lyrics (as opposed to songs that are "through-composed," an approach used in classical music). Pop and traditional forms can be used even with songs that have structural differences in melodies. The most common format is intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus (or refrain), verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge ("middle eight"), verse, chorus and outro. The formal sections found in songs have been identified as the verse, chorus, bridge, hook, and refrain: "All songs are put together with some or all of these parts in a particular pattern." (Miriam Davidson, Miriam and Kiya Heartwood, Songwriting for Beginners, Alfred Music Publishing, 2015, p. 6.)
Do birds have songs?
- Birds do not sing lyrics. Birds never sing any words in nature.
How do we know these two claims are true?
- Words are meaningful parts of a language. Languages have syntax and semantics. The syntax conforms to the rules of grammar in the language, which determines the proper order in which to sequence the sounds or words or meaningful units. All languages are flexible and can change significantly and almost always have extremely high complexity on any measure used to judge complexity.
- Contrast these primary and fundamental features of all languages with that of all bird songs. Bird songs are NOT flexible and NOT changeable to any near degree of that had by natural languages. Each bird in its group uses comparably identical bird calls. When there is variety, such as a Minah bird mirroring another's bird song, there is still no significant extemporizing, rather the mimic is striving for identity of the other bird's song. Birds sing, presumably, because it has given them evolutionary advantages to increase their chances of surviving and reproducing and propagating their gene pool, although this is now more controversial since some theorists believe birds sing for pleasure and not for a functional motivation as represented below in "Why Birds Sing."
- If words are thought of as meaningful units that express or convey information then shouldn't bird calls be thought of as units of information that serve a particular function or goal. Since bird calls can be used to warn other birds of potential danger or threat or as a means to coordinate flock behavior, for example staying relatively close together in the flock. Wikipedia on Bird Vocalization claims that some bird calls are intentional communicative acts: "The term sonate has been defined as the act of producing non-vocal sounds that are intentionally modulated communicative signals . . . "Given these communicative functions, aren't bird calls akin to words in a natural language?
- Wikipedia, in "Bird Vocalization," notes that ornithologists and birders make a distinction between bird songs and bird calls.
- The distinction between songs and calls is based upon complexity, length, and context. Songs are longer and more complex and are associated with courtship and mating, while calls tend to serve such functions as alarms or keeping members of a flock in contact. Other authorities such as Howell and Webb (1995) make the distinction based on function, so that short vocalizations, such as those of pigeons, and even non-vocal sounds, such as the drumming of woodpeckers and the "winnowing" of snipes' wings in display flight, are considered songs. Still others require song to have syllabic diversity and temporal regularity akin to the repetitive and transformative patterns that define music. It is generally agreed upon in birding and ornithology which sounds are songs and which are calls, and a good field guide will differentiate between the two.
Why birds sing
Why Birds Sing In How Music Works, David Byrne cites some scientifically controversial theories suggesting that music is a spontaneous rather than adaptive phenomenon and birds sing simply because they enjoy singing. At the front lines of the joy theory of bird song is new-age philosopher and jazz musician David Rothenberg, who argues that bird song has the formal properties of music and, just like human music, is motivated by pleasure — another manifestation of the emotional lives of animals.
BBC Documentary "Why Birds Sing" explores the leading explanations evolutionary biologists have for why birds sing: to attract mates, mark territory, or repel rivals against Rothenberg’s theories of pleasure-driven bird singing.
A new study says that birds living in major cities sing shorter, faster songs that are higher-pitched than those sung by their brethren in the forests. The researchers think that the birds adjust their songs to allow themselves to be heard over the din of the city, especially the low rumble of traffic noise.
To study how urban birds sing, Hans Slabbekoorn and Ardie den Boer-Visser, biologists at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, traveled around Europe and recorded bird songs in ten major cities and in nearby forests. The species they focused on, the great tit, is widespread across Eurasia and one of the few types of birds that thrives in big cities. Singing is crucial for males, which use their songs to attract mates and mark out their territory. The changing songs could play a role in eventually causing the city birds and the forest dwellers to evolve into separate species, Slabbekoorn speculated. The findings could also help explain why usually only a few bird species thrive in cities. By contrast, many more bird species tend to be found in forests and other undeveloped habitats.
From London to Paris, Brussels to Prague, the songs of the great tits living in cities all showed the same kinds of changes. "I was surprised it was so consistent," Slabbekoorn said. "The only explanation is that there must be quite a strong selection pressure," he added, meaning that the birds gain a big advantage by changing their songs to suit their environment.
In a study published in 2003, Slabbekoorn and another colleague showed that great tits sang at higher frequencies in noisier parts of cities. Other groups later found the same effect with two other species of city-dwelling birds: house finches and song sparrows. But the new study, published this week in the journal Current Biology, is the first to compare city birds with those of the same species living in natural settings.
Across all ten cities, the birds deleted the lower-pitched parts of their songs. Those are the parts competing the most with traffic noise, so singing low notes is often a waste of time and energy, the researchers explained. Great tits usually sing two or three notes and then repeat this several times. The city birds sped up their songs by shortening the first note of these sets, as well as the pauses between them. The great tits also sang more varied songs with only one note, or with as many as 16 notes strung together, patterns that were unusual in the forest, according to the scientists.The study makes "a convincing case that this is a broad phenomenon, at least in this species," said Gail Patricelli, a biologist at the University of California, Davis. "It didn't just happen once. The same phenomenon emerged several times" in the widespread cities, Patricelli said.
As reported above, research published in 2003 by Slabbekoorn and den Boer-Visse in the species of bird called, I kid you not, great tits, and later confirmed independently by other researchers in different species of birds (house finches and song sparrows) showed that living in urban environments consistently pushed bird vocalizations to eliminate lower frequencies and increase both pace and use of higher frequencies than their country cousin's style of bird vocalizations in the same species. The urban birds all had eliminated their lower frequencies and upped the higher frequencies as well as increased the pacing of the song.
A good explanation why this occurs is due to intense selection pressure for birds to have these traits because of all of the rumble of traffic noise by vehicles drowning out birds previous use of lower frequencies. The birds use these higher pitched and paced vocalizations because it improves their chances of being heard over the rough and tumble of urban acoustic environments. This improved communication serves to contribute to individual bird's survival, but also their offspring are more likely to have these traits that helped its patents to survive to reproductive maturity.
If birds do not merely sing for pleasure, but have functional purposes for their singing such as their vocalizations serving to mark territory, repel invaders, and/or possibly attract mates, then this finding of urban birds eliminating their former use if low frequencies can be explained. The changes in bird vocalizations from country to city now makes sense. If birds merely sing for their own individual pleasure the changes in vocalizati ins appear unmotivated. Therefore, the pleasure theory of bird vocalizations seems wrong.
Objections To Birds Singing Only For Pleasure
This above is a strong argument and evidence against the birds sing for pleasure theory. Just as you cannot hear yourself as well in a shower with all of the white noise occurring from splashing water it doesn't stop you from still belting out old Broadway showtunes. If birds ONLY sang for pleasure while living in an urban environment, then there would be little reason for them to change their tune, so to speak. If they found that song pleasurable to sing in the country it should be just as pleasurable for birds to sing the same song in the city, "Take Me Out To Old Broadway . . . "
On the other hand, as the researchers theorize, while the birds sing for pleasure theory has no non-ad-hoc theory for why birds would have altered their songs in the same species but in different environments, evolutionary theory has much to say about what happened to account for this particular phenomenon. It can explain why urban birds having consistently halted using their ancestors previously used lower register to serve bird well-functioning regarding survival and reproduction as opposed to their country cousins of the same species who reside in a relatively quiet woodside. By increasing pacing and using a higher pitch, the urban birds increase their chances for communicative success since the use of lower frequencies gets masked out by the harsher acoustic environment of the city. It is a waste of energy for the birds to sing in a lower register so those birds that do this fail to survive and reproduce as well as those birds using higher registers during vocalizations. It isn't that an individual bird elects to change its song pattern, rather those birds with the higher frequency song patterns tend better to survive and reproduce and pass those traits on to their offspring with higher probability.
Researchers have found that birds CAN elect to change their vocalization patterns voluntarily. The species studied by Charles Walcott, a biologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, focused on loons in Michigan, as reported in National Geographic News. In the article, "Loons Change Tunes After Finding a New Home," Nicholas Bakalar reports in 2006 that while male loons are well known by birdwatchers to "have characteristic calls that remain relatively stable from year to year, . . . a new study has found that when a male loon changes territories to find a new mate, he changes his call, too. Why this happens is a mystery."
When is it the same song?
This is an important and difficult philosophical question. Identity questions are always difficult in philosophy and typically there are many opposing positions and theories regarding any identity issues.
We have multiple problems and issues that need to be assumed, resolved, or argued for before one can answer questions of song identity. The ontological status of a song needs to be determined because we have to know what standard we are using to compare any exemplar to!
On the assumption that a song's identity is determined by the previously written musical score we then would say that any performance that plays everything written in the score has succeeded in playing that song. What if the performer makes one wrong note, but all others are flawless and in conformity with the original musical score? Most people would still judge that the musician has performed that particular song, but just with a mistake. There have been some philosophers who would hold that with one mistake the performer has failed to play that song. Nelson Goodman is one who has held this theory.
➢ So, who is right and how do we resolve this question?
One possible way to resolve the issue is to point out the radicalness of the No Mistakes theory (NMT). Everyone thinks that a house has been built even if one nail was put in incorrectly. We generally speaking do not use perfection as a standard for object identity. Why then should it be any different for song identity?
Furthermore, if we ask the No Mistakes theorist what song WAS played, it seems wrong that with only one mistake he should answer, "I have no idea, but for sure it wasn't THAT song." If halfway through, before the mistake is made we ask the NMT what song is being played they have to respond, "Oh, on my theory I can never know what song has been played until the entire song has been performed flawlessly." Or, they might reply, "Well, so far they have played Monk's "Well You Needn't." If the very last note is played wrong, NMT is forced to say, "It was going to be a performance of "Well You Needn't", but it wasn't." For most people, these responses would seem absurd.
If we reply, "what song do you think it is?" the NMT has to unnaturally reply "I have no idea until the song is over and performed flawlessly." If these responses strike one as odd, or just wrong, then we have the start of a reason to believe the NMT is incorrect regarding song identity.
Let us consider songs with one note played wrong as counting as a performance of that very song. How many wrong notes can one have and still have played that song? Can one determine song identity relative to proportion of good versus bad notes? The answer seems to be that this is not a good way to determine song identity. It is conceivable that a beginning musician, if they play anything relatively close to at least reminding the listeners of the song in question (usually the melody) that we could conceivably say the beginner played the song, but just very, very, badly. If this is true then one could perhaps play more wrong notes than right ones and still have played that song and so proportionality of correctly played notes does not seem like the best criteria for determining song identity.
On the other hand at least one philosopher, Peter Kivy,, who believes if there are enough wrong notes then it is not believable that the beginning student actually played that particular work. The best we could say was that the student TRIED to play that work, but failed because of too many wrong notes.
A 'performance' with 'too many' mistakes and wrong notes . . . is no performance of that work, whatever else it may be.
➢ What alternatives are there?
Intention is insufficient to determine song identity
What we do know is that the mere intention by the performer to play a particular song is insufficient to guarantee that that particular song has been played by the performer. If Fred intends to play Monk's "Well You Needn't," but what Fred plays sounds like he is playing "Yankee Doodle Dandy," then few, if anyone, would believe that Fred has played the Monk tune.
Intention is relevant for song production
Intention of the musician, however, still seems to be a relevant factor in determining song identity.
➢ Why is intention relevant for determining song identity?
Suppose that a person has no intention to play "Well You Needn't," but sits at the piano and ends up playing it note for note. Many people would have the intuition that the Monk song has not been played.
➢ Why not?
One reason could be that there was no intention to play it so merely mirroring the notes is insufficient for having played it. If rocks fell off a cliff and hit a piano and ended up playing what sounds just like a Monk tune that tune has not been played by the rocks. What is missing? It sounds sonically identical to the song itself? Isn't this good enough?
The reasons why it hasn't been performed are many. First, there was no intentional agent attempting to play music. So, second, there were no musician(s) involved. It was an accident that the rocks hit the piano keys in the correct order. Music does not happen by accident unless the musician has intended that accidents be involved in the sound production, as in some John Cage compositions using the IChing. Without any intending musician(s) all that nature ever can produce or cause are sounds, not music.
Monroe C. Beardlsey requires any art to satisfy an intentional requirement without which something cannot qualify as art.
“To be a genuine work of art, an object or arrangement must be something for which some person or group of persons takes responsibility, stands behind. Without that we are back to nature.”
Ronald Dipart also finds an intentionality condition required for art production because important functions of art, such as representation and expression presuppose prior intentional activity.
. . . the common attribution of numerous of the more important proposed functions of art—representation, expression, suggestion, and assertion, to name a few that seem to presuppose an attribution of prior intentional activity. The attribution of some intentions to a creator of the object firmly separates regarding an object as an art work from regarding it as a non-artistic aesthetic object. (bold not author's)
Is the question being begged against a non-intentional music production?
Can music be played with no musician(s) involved? First, the question is unclear as to what involved means, or "played." If 'involved' means one of the more immediate proximate causes of the music, such as a person intending to play "Well You Needn't" by using her fingers to play a piano, then this is the typical case of what is meant by 'involved.' On the other hand, recordings do not have as a nearby proximate cause a person/musician yet musical production/events can still take place. This would be playbacks of previously recorded music. In the recording's cases, again typically, there are always intentional agents existing within the proximate causal chain that caused the recording to exist. Therefore, the requirement of intentional agents for musical productions has yet to be counter-exampled. With the involvement of intentional agents, i.e., people, causing the recording it therefore counts as music.
Suppose we again consider the rocks falling off the cliff and hitting the appropriate keys of a piano example where it sounds just like the song "Well You Needn't." It is clear that no intentional agents or musicians were involved in the production or causation of the sonic event. What should we think now about whether this is music, as well as the question of song identity? Is the rock played piano a case of the song having been produced?
Julian Dodd's Possible Response to the 'Rock' version of "Well You Needn't"
In several books and articles, University of Manchester philosophy professor, Julian Dodd, has defended musical Platonism: the view that all music eternally exists as abstract musical structures so musical compositions are discovered in some sense when created. This is not as crazy a view as some might think. Of course the doctrine of Platonism by itself, ignoring the side issue of music, has itself many detractors, as well as some excellent defenders. The issues are unresolved, controversial, and challenging.
Nevertheless, on the assumption of the correctness of the ontology of the musical Platonist position, Dodd could claim the rocks falling off a cliff onto a piano and sounding like the playing of Monk's "Well You Needn't" (from now on called the Rock version) is an exemplification of a previously existing musical work, so it is a playing of a song and indeed it is Monk's tune, as we call it.
It is unclear if this is correct. Why think that the wind whistling through the trees could count as music, or check out this website of strange trumpet/organ type sounds heard around the world. It sounds musicalish. Why can't it be music naturally produced, assuming it is not unseen alien musicians, but natural production of sounds in nature?
Why music cannot be produced by nature
According to virtually all current definitions of music, music is a cultural artifact. To support this consider what is said at Wikipedia:
Wikipedia on music: Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound and silence. The common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the "color" of a musical sound).
Music production requires intentional agents
If this Wikipedia entry is taken seriously, that music is an artifact made by and within cultures, which is entirely unargued for and merely asserted, then we may have an answer about why nature can never produce music, but only sounds. Non-biological Nature lacks intentional agents and without such agents culture is impossible. If culture is required for both music production and musical performances, then nature can neither produce nor perform music.
What is culture and why is culture necessary for musical production?
Music production does not require intentional agents
What the above Wikipedia article on music only says is "cultural activity." This merely points out that music occurs within a culture. It need not imply that music can only be caused by or created within a culture. Furthermore, all of the rest of the sonic features mentioned in the definition, namely, pitch, rhythm, dynamics, timbre, and texture can arguably all be found at sonic events in nature.
Objections to Music production NOT requiring intentional agents
Suppose one hears a sound that could also be reproduced on a saxophone. Let us imagine that there is an old pile of scrap metal that when the wind blows through it, it can make the same note that could be made on an alto saxophone. The scrap metal wind saxophone has no intention behind it to cause it to be making that sound for the purpose of making music, while the saxophonist has this intention. When a human hand by an artist makes a painterly stroke, this stroke has meaning. The same stroke made by an elephant lacks the relevant intention of having the elephant stroke express intentional meaning (on the presumption that the elephant had no artistic intentions during production of that stroke). Therefore, the elephant is not intending to make art, nor making something representational, or even producing aesthetically pleasing abstract art objects. It is only humans in our case, who are intentional agents who can TAKE the elephant production to be or count as art.
Two snow shovels can be qualitatively identical, but one can be art and the other one not art. Duchamp's snow shovel titled "In Advance of the Broken Arm" counts as art, but the qualitatively similar one at the hardware store doesn't. The reason is the hardware store shovel and all of its physical properties are not what makes something be art. On almost any theory of what is required for something to be art, the ordinary hardware store shovel located in the hardware store fails to count as art.
Must Sonically Identical Sound Sequences Be Aesthetically Identical?
If we extend these insights to musical works of art and consider two sonically identical sequences and ask must they be aesthetically identical because they are sonically identical? Are the only relevant features for determining aesthetic identity the acoustic properties of sound or are there other factors besides acoustic ones that influence or determine the art/aesthetic status or musical status?
Yes, is the answer, there are other properties besides sonic ones for determining aesthetic values. Many theorists hold that cultural factors are relevant for determining aesthetic significance. For example, that American blues comes from hard fought emotionally stressful factors (e.g., slavery) and would not have the same impact, or aesthetic properties, if it did not have such sources.
Some claim that mere sound and its physical properties are not sufficient for that sound to count as music. Just as the wind knocking over cans of paint and drips falling off the roof onto a canvas that ends up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting would neither be a painting, nor a work of art. It is not the paint and its qualities that makes something be a painting. It is the painter and intentional causation of that object. A painting and a forged exact copy could be physically indistinguishable yet one has high artistic value and the forgery doesn't. So, it isn't the paint and canvas that determines the value and aesthetic properties of works of art.
Similarly, the scrap metal wind saxophone is neither blowing the note C nor making music. It just sounds like C.
On Julian Dodd's Platonism
Would Julian Dodd hold that all possible Jackson Polllock drip paintings already exist in abstract space that Pollock is discovering his painting and not creating it? What advantages are there to holding the painting exists prior to Pollock's production of it? It certainly gives a bloated ontology of drip paintings. Is there any difference to any facts between having Platonic heaven for drip paintings or denying it?
Does Dodd's Platonic heaven for musical abstract pre-existing eternal object types include ALL POSSIBLE sound sequences? If it does then this seems like excessive bloating in one's ontology and also way too many natural kinds. If it doesn't include all possible sound sequences, then an artist could make music that includes as part of the musical composition one of the not included sound sequences missing from Dodd's Platonic sonic heaven and then not all musical compositions would be previously represented in Dodd's sonic universe of abstract sound sequences.
Many of all possible sound sequences don't count as music. While it is true that an abstract musician, like John Cage, might try to incorporate some sound sequences into their musical composition it is unclear that mere intention is sufficient for music production, i.e, just picking it out. If I pick out my broom and declare it is art, it isn't (likely to be) art until at least the artistic community recognizes it as well.
So, if Dodd has all possible sound sequences in his abstract object universe this set doesn't yet pick out all and ONLY musical sound sequence types. So, it cannot be just sound that determines musical work's properties.
What is culture?
Wikipedia on culture (excerpts): "Culture is, in the words of E. B. Tylor, "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by (people) as a member of society." (E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, New York: J. P. Putnam’s Sons. Volume 1, page 1, 1920 (first published 1871)). Alternatively, in a contemporary variant, "Culture is defined as a social domain that emphasizes the practices, discourses, and material expressions, which, over time, express the continuities and discontinuities of social meaning of a life held in common." (Paul James, with Liam Magee, Andy Sceeri, and Manfred B. Steger, Urban Sustainability in Theory and Practice: Circles of Sustainability, London: Routledge, 2015, p. 53.)
The Cambridge English Dictionary states that culture is, "the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time." Terror Management Theory posits that culture is a series of activities and worldviews that provide humans with the basis for perceiving themselves as "person[s] of worth within the world of meaning."
As a defining aspect of what it means to be human, culture is a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. The word is used in a general sense as the evolved ability to categorize and represent experiences with symbols and to act imaginatively and creatively.
When used as a count noun, "a culture" is the set of customs, traditions and values of a society or community, such as an ethnic group or nation.
Culture (is) usually understood as the ensemble of symbolic codes used by a society.
Culture in the sociological field can be defined as the ways of thinking, the ways of acting, and the material objects that together shape a people's way of life. Culture can be any of two types, non-material culture or material culture. Non-material culture refers to the non-physical ideas that individuals have about their culture, including values, belief system, rules, norms, morals, language, organizations, and institutions. While material culture is the physical evidence of a culture in the objects and architecture they (have) made.Although anthropologists worldwide refer to Tylor's definition of culture, in the 20th century "culture" emerged as the central and unifying concept of American anthropology, where it most commonly refers to the universal human capacity to classify and encode human experiences symbolically, and to communicate symbolically encoded experiences socially."
Why Intentional Agency is Necessary for Music Production
🎷 SECTION UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Especially Needs Editing 🎷
What do all of the definitions of culture have in common? People! One cannot have culture without intentional agents because of the requirement put down by cultural theorists that requires culture consists of the manufacture, use, and transmission of symbolic information. For symbolic information to be created so it can be used to communicate and be transmitted requires/demands intentional agents as the primary causal agency. Without causal agency by intentional agents there would be no actions that satisfy desires and intentions. Without an agent responsible for the quality of the performance there hasn't been any performance. It makes no sense to credit the wind with a good or bad performance of Monk's tune. For good or bad performances to be possible there must be standards of performance against which the agent is being measured and accountable.
Tree rings carry information about the age of a tree. Can these rings count as embodying information about the age of the tree? Why or why not?
Do the tree rings count as symbolic information? Could the information embodied in the tree rings ever be used by non-intentional agents, such as chemical chains of molecules, and have this information influence future causal events? Why or why not?
Even if objects in nature could utilize the information lawfully encoded, they still would fail to be intentional agents who self-consciously apply the information to achieve desired goals. Music requires such intentional agents. The wind saxophone can't be playing or producing music because with music we give credit for performing and producing the sounds. We say the music was well or ill played, but this doesn't make sense for a wind saxophone event. Thus, just as a forgery can look identical to the actual painting, but not be the same art work, or even art work type, so a wind saxophone can sound just the same as an intentionally produced piece of music and not a tokening of that musical type. Something can seem to be a work of art, but not be one.
Works of Art and Forgery
➢ Are forgered paintings classified as works of art or not? What are the arguments in favor of them not being works of art?
Denis Dutton distinguishes between the two as follows: "Forgery and plagiarism are both forms of fraud. In committing art forgery I claim my work is by another person. As a plagiarist, I claim another person’s work is my own. In forgery, someone’s name is stolen in order to add value to the wrong work; in plagiarism someone’s work is stolen in order to give credit to the wrong author."
Dutton explains one of the motivations of the forger: "Works of sculpture and painting are material objects whose sometimes immense monetary value derives generally from two aspects: (1) the aesthetic qualities they embody, and (2) who made them and when. The reputations of artists are built on what history and taste decides is high aesthetic quality; forgery is an attempt to cash in on such established reputations." 
Denis Dutton points out that fraudulent intention is a necessary condition for a work of art to qualify as a forgery: "Forgery and plagiarism are normally defined in terms of work presented to a buyer or audience with the intention to deceive. Fraudulent intention, either by the artist or by a subsequent owner, is necessary for a work to be a forgery; this distinguishes forgeries from honest copies and merely mistaken attributions." This fraudulent intention distinguishes non-forged artwork from forged ones. The original artist does not have the fraudulent intention to pass off his/her own artwork as his/her own work. This is a second order intention. The original artist only has the first order intention that this artwork is by the original artist, namely the author.
Dutton does provide a fascinating example of where it is possible for an artist to forge his or her own work:
“Even self-plagiarism, both intentional and unintentional, is possible. The Vermeer forger Han van Meegeren was once offered money for a prize-winning drawing. Unwilling to part with it, he copied it and sold the second drawing as the original prize winner; as van Meegeren was using his own name and lifting existent artistic content, this would be a rare case where the definitions of forgery and plagiarism both apply.”
This self-forgery requires a second artwork for such a forgery to be possible. One cannot forge themselves with the initially produced work.
Arthur Danto on Forgeries
In commenting on philosophical writings by Arthur Danto, Dutton explains that original art works and their perceptually indistinguishable forgery do not have the same aesthetic properties or values.
Forgery for Danto is a matter of a falsified history of an object, and works of art do not always “wear their histories on their surfaces.” Danto regards art works as constituted by the ideas they embody and express; they are surrounded by an “atmosphere is theory” which makes them what they are. It is therefore impossible that an original work and its perceptually indistinguishable forgery could ever have the same value, even if they were to remain forever indistinguishable: art is less what you see and more what you know.
Danto himself put it this way:
To see something as art requires something the eye cannot decry – an atmosphere of artistic theory, a knowledge of the history of art: an artworld"
We disvalue a forgery over a non-forged work because it has different historical and aesthetic features. A forgery by its nature of being an art work produced for deceptive purposes because the work as a forgery has been designed to give the appearance or impression different from the true one. The true one is that this particular artwork was not authored by this particular artist. The deception is that is was authored by an artist who in fact didn't produce it, or that it is other than the original. Hence forged works are devalued because they are copied, un-creative, non-original, inauthentic, unjustifiably made by producer, etc.
All Artwork Requires the Possibility of Having Been Executed Well or Poorly: a Commendation Scale
It makes no sense to credit the wind with having played Monk's "Well You Needn't" well or poorly. Since we always wish to credit the music's causes with accolades or demotions, no naturally occurring sounds can make music since they are not the type of entity that can be praised or blamed for a good or bad performance.
Hence, sonicism must be wrong because two identical sound sequences do not need to be the same musical work.
Similarly with painting. The drips of paint falling off the roof cannot be commended for having made a good drip painting.
➢ Why does music and painting require the possibility of having the cause be evaluated for poor, mediocre, or good performances, paintings, or musical works?
ANSWER: because they are aesthetic objects that demand evaluations for good or bad production by the artist. No artist involved, then no art. By involved we mean causally responsible in a significant manner or role so that we can specify that person as the artist in question. There are seemingly exceptions to this, but not if the artist is within the causal chain in an important way as artist of the work. For example, Jeff Koons has laborers who he tells what to manufacture for him. He doesn't make the work physically itself. Neither does Andy Warhol at the factory where he would have someone else silkscreen fifty copies of the same work. In Performance Art it is unclear how the artist produces the work since it could be the traffic at the intersection that are the primary art objects within this performance, and the artist has no control over the traffic patterns, etc. Conceptual art objects by Marcel Duchamp can be analysed as often being, in effect, objectless art where the object itself is at least somewhat irrelevant, so that, the urinal, the bottle rack, and the snow shovel, could have physically been different while the conceptual art 'piece' remains the same. In conceptual art the crucial element of the piece is the idea of it. This is what is stable over time and Duchamp can, and did, create more than one art piece titled "Fountain" using different porcelain urinal basins and each exemplified the same art object without being physically the same object. It is the idea that remains the same.
In all of the above cases, an intentional agent we call the artist is causal involved in an important and significant way, even if the physical objects are not so important. The physical objects in all three of the Duchamp examples still need appropriated features, such as the snow shovel has to looks like a snow shovel, the urinal has a nice biomorphic shape to it and the bottle rack also had interesting symmetrical features so not any old bottle rack, urinal, or snow shovel would work as well as the ones Duchamp chose. On the other hand, a second physically comparable ready-made object would serve Duchamp's purposes just as well, so there is nothing 'special' in terms of uniqueness to this very object needing to be part of this particular art work because conceptual art can be comprehended as in effect objectless art.
Whether or not it is true that information can only be used by intentional agents, music production requires intentional agents because the artist involved is ordinarily the musician herself. It is only in some type of John Cage's musical productions where the artist is non-identical to the performers or musicians producing the music. This parallels Jeff Koons where he as artist is involved in specifying the features of the art object, but he doesn't actually make the physical art object; he only directs its manufacture.
➢ Why must there be an artist associated with every art work?
Driftwood is pretty. Is it art even before it gets picked up and placed on a mueseum showroom floor? Arguably, if it is was art prior to inclusion in a museum art show, then everything in the universe would need to be art because everything in the universe has aesthetic properties. If there is to be a rejection of this position so that not every object in the universe qualifies as art, what could be used to delimit the ontology? Bringing in an artist's intentions and actions and requiring this be causally formative in every artwork would accomplish such a limitation on the ontology of art because not all objects in the universe are related intentionally to minds and their actions.
Why A Rock Cannot Play A Wrong Note
➢ What makes it possible to play a wrong note?
A wrong note can only be played if there already exists a standard for what counts as a right note. Without this, there is nothing to use to judge what makes the alleged wrong note improper or wrong.
➢ What sorts of standards can be violated so as to produce 'wrong' notes?
There are at least two basic ways to produce standards of correctness against which to judge the wrongness of a note. These two standards are the musical score and, for lack of any better terminology, musical practices. The musical score is what reflects the original composer's intentions for how to play this very tune. It represents the notes that are supposed to be played in order to perform this very tune. If you don't play these notes then you start not to be playing the music as intended by the composer. This establishes a standard of correctness relative to a composer's intentions that can be used to explain and justify what makes a note be wrongly played.
Another fundamental way to establish right and wrong note choices is relative to musical practices. It is a fact that some sounds go well together and are, so to speak, pleasing to the ear. Others notes can sound absolutely terrible together. To be a good improviser one needs to know in any given context notes to avoid putting together. This is so well known and an established musical practice that these are termed "avoidance" notes.
Wikipedia on Tone Rows explains how classical composer Arnold Schoenberg had guidelines for what notes not to use during his style of composition using tone rows.
“Schoenberg specified many strict rules and desirable guidelines for the construction of tone rows such as number of notes and intervals to avoid.” (bold not in original)
A tone row, as defined at Wikipedia is:
“a non-repetitive ordering of a set of pitch-classes, typically of the twelve notes in musical set theory of the chromatic scale . . . ”
Of course, as soon as there are rules, standards, or guidelines innovative composers and musicians may try to see what happens when they are violated.
“Tone rows which depart from these guidelines include the above tone row from Berg's Violin Concerto which contains triads and tonal emphasis, and the tone row below from Luciano Berio's Nones which contains a repeated note making it a 'thirteen-tone row'.”
Intentional agents are required in music production precisely because they are causing the exemplification of an aesthetic object or musical performance. All aesthetic objects are objects that deserve evaluations of their properties and their degrees of goodness or badness. As musical performances are by definition aesthetic objects, they too are deserving and do so merit falling within the purview of judgments of properties and levels of goodness or badness. It is meaningless to attribute degrees of goodness or badness in production to a non-intentional agent.
Because rocks and trees cannot be intentional agents they also cannot have or produce any culture. If music requires culture and intentional agency for music to exist, then there can be no music produced by the non-intentional material universe. Those strange trumpet/organ type sounds heard around the world CANNOT be music, only sounds!
Implications for Sonicism
🎷 SECTION UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Especially Needs Editing 🎷
Sonicism is the doctrine that equates two instances of sound sequences when they are sonically identical to be exemplars of the same musical work. A major proponent of this doctrine is Julian Dodd who has defended the view on numerous occasions. Here is how Dodd defines the view:
- "Sonicism has it that work W = W* if and only if W and W* are sonically indistinguishable."
Christopher Bartel, while reviewing Dodd's book, Works of Music: An Essay in Ontology, explains how a realist about musical works (typically called a Platonist) holds that all works pre-exist prior to the composer's 'discovery' of the work. A realist about works of music must redescribe and clarify the proper way of characterizing what happens during a composer's journey of discovery and how it relates to 'creation' of that particular work of music and composition:
According to the Platonist, a composer does not create something ex nihilo; rather, "The composer selects certain properties of a descriptive sound-event type as normative, and, in so doing, thereby selects an eternally existent norm type. The composer unearths something that was already there: he discovers criteria for correct performance." (p. 113). This may not agree with pre-theoretical intuitions, but intuitions can be wrong, and there is nothing inconsistent in the notion of creative discovery (§5.4). Further, Dodd argues that opposing accounts of musical works would lead to unacceptable problems. In Chs. 6 and 7 respectively he argues that works of music cannot be either enduring or perduring particulars (i.e., continuants), and that they cannot be ‘compositional acts’ either.
Because Dodd defends sonicism, Bartel explains that this commits Dodd to concluding that:
Thus two works in possession of the same set of acoustical norm-properties would thereby be identical works. In making this claim, Dodd rejects those accounts of individuation (associated with Levinson) which place additional constraints on instrumentation or musico-historical context. Dodd’s reason for this view is his claim that types describe a certain sound-sequence-event, and the means of production or musico-historical context of their composition has no effect on the acoustical properties of a sound sequence-event. To believe otherwise would be to treat musical works as particulars [that is, tokens] rather than types, which Dodd believes they are not [i.e., not tokens]. (bold not in original)
Dodd needs to reject Jerrold Levinson's claim that works of music can require specific musical instruments be used to play that work because his defense of sonicism entails such a rejection. If a synthesizer, which is not a violin, etc. could recreate the actual acoustic properties of a violin, and all other musical instrumentation, then Dodd claims said synthesizer has been used to token the type of work that Levinson would claim cannot be played without actual use of a violin.
Let's investigate this last point. According to Bartel's reading of Dodd's theory, if works of music could require specific instrumentation to be part of the identity conditions for being THAT particular work of music, and not simply a particular sound sequence (acoustical properties exclusively), then this requires works of music to be tokens/particulars and not types. Why believe this is true? Would works of music necessarily be tokens/particulars (and not types) were they to include idiosyncratic musical instrument types as part of the identity conditions for being that work of music?
We haven't seen the argument for the claim that if a work of music requires specific instrumentation for its identity conditions then these are all particulars and not types. Can't there be such a type of work of music that has these melodic and harmonic features and played with these types of instruments? Is that any different than defining a claw as must be made of keratin?
Can a type include specific requirements of types of sub-properties, such as "must use a violin"? Consider claws in animals. A claw is a curved pointy horny nail on each digit of the foot in birds, lizards, and some mammals, or it can also refer to either of a pair of small hooked appendages on an insect's legs, or the pincer of a crab, scorpion, or other arthropods.
Right away it is easy to see the use of the word "claw" is ambiguous. A claw of an insect will not be a claw in the same way as a claw in a mammal, or a pincer in a lobster. The mammal has claws on the digits of each foot, while insects can have a claw in the middle of its legs and not a digit of a foot, while a lobster's claw is a chela (also named claw, nipper, or pincer), which is a pincer-like organ terminating certain limbs of some arthropods. The reason these chelae are called claws is because most chelae are curved and have a sharp point like a claw.
If we just stick with mammalian claws, no insects or arthropods, then claws are said to be made of the material keratin. Wikipedia writers claim that "A true claw, (as opposed to a chela) is made of hard protein called keratin." So, it could be that a sub-property of mammalian claws is that it is a requirement that to be a true claw it must be made of keratin and this would parallel someone like Levinson who claims to be THIS song, you must play it with a violin, and not an acoustically identical sound generating synthesizer.
One can see why someone like Dodd might object to a requirement that even mammalian claws necessarily must be made of keratin, or must use a violin to have played that work of music. If a mutant mammal, at the end of its digits produced a claw shaped from non-keratin substances, we might still be inclined to say that this animal has claws. The reason is because the two objects under question are functionally equivalent. The non-keratin claw can still be used for both offensive and defensive purposes just like keratin claws. The non-violin producing synthesizer sounds just the same as the one with a violin so it is functionally equivalent and a listener from only hearing the song would not be able to distinguish between a violin and a non-violin musical production.
Thus, it may be arbitrary whether or not we define claws as the type of object that must be made of keratin or not. Just as it could be merely a semantic distinction as to how we want to both use and define something regarding the nature of a musical work as either requiring it be played with these instruments or not. All parties to the dispute are in agreement that the two sound sequences are qualitatively identical whether played by violin or synthesizer. The dispute then may just turn on semantic conventions of how you want to use a particular word or concept.
Christopher Bartel's Epistemological Problem for Dodd
In the same review article on Dodd Christopher Bartel raises questions about Dodd's strict work ontology by posing the following epistemological puzzle.
[Dodd's] proposed account raises a new epistemological puzzle. The problem arises specifically if he is right that there potentially exist an infinite number of uninstantiated types, and that the properties associated with each type are modally and temporally inflexible – two claims which underwrite his view of creative composition as an act of discovery. In §4.3 he considers and rejects the claim that musical works are able to change their properties over time . . . Dodd argues that when a composer makes a change to a previously indicated work, however minor the change, what has really happened is that the composer has now indicated (and thereby discovered) a new work of music. The original work still exists, evidently: the original version of the work could be performed again. As Dodd says, "When an object changes, it no longer exists in its previous state" (p. 88), but this is not the case with changes to a work of music. As W and W* could easily be performed alongside one another, then clearly W and W* exist simultaneously. Works of music do not change; rather, other very closely related works, previously uninstantiated, are simply discovered.
The important point to note here is Dodd's claim "Any development of the score, however minor, amounts to the indication of a distinct object" (p. 91). Though W and W* might be similar in many respects, they are still different works, provided that each type is associated with a distinct set of norm-properties. The epistemological problem arises here. Suppose that W and W* differ in tempo but are identical in other respects. Both works contain the same note sequence and the same instrumentation, y.
Bartel's problematic examples are where each of the two works use the same sound sequence and instrumentation y, but one work W is required to be performed with strict tempo of precisely 120 beats per minute (bpm) while work W* is looser and played 'allegro' potentially having a tempo anywhere between 120 and 168 bpm. His question is which work gets performed when a musical performance of sound sequence y occurs at exactly 120 bpm; was it W or W*?
Bartel believes the two works are distinct because of their differing tempo requirements. Does Dodd believe these are two different works when W* happens to be performed at exactly 120 beats per minute? It would seem there may be a conflict because if W and W* are sonically identical, then Dodd must claim identity and they are not different works. On the other hand, intuitively W* with its potentially variable tempo that permits an allegro performance W* at precisely 120 bpm, would seem to be a different work from W. Which is it in Bartel's example? Bartel believes that this sort of ambiguity results from Dodd's commitment to "the existence of an infinite number of closely similar norm-types." 
Generally speaking, in ontology diachronic identity is possible. Physical objects survive over time as identical to themselves even with different properties. A person is typically thought of as the same person from infancy through adulthood even though having different properties, even the opposite ones (hairy then bald), at different times. Typically, identity does not require absolute property identity to be the same object.
➢ Why should it be any different for musical works?
Notice that in describing the problem Bartel has the two works as "versions" (presumably) of each other. This implies that the two 'works' are intimately related. They are not as distinct from each other as musical works as say Monk's 'Round Midnight and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Why use the word "version" here? Because they are versions of a similar work since they only differ by one note.
Would we actually claim them to be two different musical works if a composer intentionally changes just one note and then calls them W and W*? Maybe. However, this is not the same thing as a performer who plays both W and then W*, if the production of W* was by mistake and the performer intended to play W, but during the performance played W* in error.
Why is this? Why do we still say that W was played with one wrong note? Because the musician intended to play W and not W* cares a lot of weight here. If we ask what were you playing the musician is NOT going to answer, "I was playing W*." This is evidence she wasn't playing W*, but just W with a mistake. One can build objects with mistakes and it is still that particular object. Why should it be any different for musical works unless one is already committed to such a theory of such strict musical work identity, as in theories of Nelson Goodman and Julian Dodd's sonicism?
PROBLEM: According to this view if a musician plays one wrong note then he didn't play version one, but version two. He intended to play version one. He intended to play the correct version of the one wrong note, but failed to execute it properly. According to Dodd, the musician played version two, while everyone else believes he played version one with just a bad note. Dodd's analysis seems counter-intuitive and so this is an objection to Dodd's sonicism.
Objections to Sonicism
OS0: Identical Sound Sequences Don't Have To Have The Same Meaning
Just because something is the same sound sequence does not mean each has the same meaning. Consider a tea kettle that when boiling sounds like an ambulance siren. The former indicates your tea water is now boiling while the latter indicates/means/expresses that other vehicles should pull over to the side of the road.
Similarly, just because two musical sound sequences are identical (sonicism's emphasis) needn't require that each expresses the same sentiments or have the same aesthetic properties. The historical and representational history is relevant for interpreting the features of a piece of music. Sonicism makes any historical features irrelevant to song identity and so it is a flawed theory.
Many aestheticians, such as Stephen Davies quoted below, believe that external factors to the intrinsic physical properties of an artwork are relevant and help determine aesthetic properties of an artwork.
“The argument always comes to this: aesthetic properties do not sit in the work like threepences in a Christmas pudding—to be discovered by those with taste. Rather, the nature of those properties is determined at least in part by matters external to the work. Two materially identical works could have different properties were they to be created at different periods, or were they to be created by different people, or were they to be classed as falling within different styles or genres, or were one to be the original and the other to be a copy or a forgery.” (bold not in original)
OS1: If Musical Production Requires an Intentional Agent then Sonicism is a False Doctrine
A main line of objection to sonicism is that because all musical production has as a necessary condition for causation that it has been caused in some way by an intentional agent, sonicism's position of determining song identity on the basis of exclusively acoustic properties must be wrong. Merely being acoustically identical does not make two exemplars ontologically identical as we see in the Forgeries Counter-example and the Twin Earth Alternate Histories Counter-example discussed below.
OS2: Aesthetic Properties Cannot Be Exclusively Physical Properties
OS2.1: Forgeries Counter-example: Forgeries Can Be Qualitatively Identical To An Original Without Equivalent Aesthetic Values
As Nelson Goodman has argued in Chapter 3 of "Art and Authenticity" in his Languages of Art it cannot just be the physical properties of something that determines an object's artistic and aesthetic features. Michael Wreen clarifies some of the conceptual issues regarding the features that can be had by forgeries when he explains that “a forgery of a work of art need not be a copy or imitation of some extant, or previously extant, work: the Macpherson poems of the eighteenth century, which were intentionally misattributed to a Gaelic poet of the third century, are ample testimony to the fact. A forged work is a (supposed) work which is not genuine, but which is represented as genuine, with the intention to deceive; and genuineness, or authenticity, concerns provenance of issue, specifically, from whom (or, in some cases, what, when, or where) the work actually issued. Nevertheless, though the concepts of copy, imitation, and resemblance on the one hand, and of forgery on the other, are conceptually independent, there is an empirically close connection between at least two of them - forgery and resemblance. Most forgeries are not copies, true enough (such forgeries would be, generally speaking, too easy to detect), but most forgeries do resemble actual works, at least so far as style, subject matter, technique, etc. are concerned.”
Wreen goes on to claim that for Nelson Goodman it is an “important point to note is that Goodman has conceded (for the sake of argument) that no perceptual difference entails no aesthetic difference.” (p. 345) This seems contrary to the very point of the original/fake distinction where the works are relatively perceptually indistinguishable yet have different aesthetic values. Goodman himself contradicts Wreen's last claim here when he defines an autographic work as one where perceptual indistinguishability doesn't guarantee identity: “Let us speak of a work of art as autographic if and only if the distinction between original and forgery of it is significant; or better, if and only if the most exact duplicate of it does not thereby count as genuine.” (pp. 112-113; italics not in original.) If two relatively qualitatively identical physical objects exist it does not make them aesthetically equivalent. One could be a forgery of the other and the forged painting while more or less equivalent in its physical properties does not have the same aesthetic values as the non-forged original painting.
OS2.2: Twin Earth Alternate Histories Counter-example
Using a Twin Earth style counter-example, consider a painting with Earth's history and how it could be radically different from that of a qualitatively equivalent painting on Twin Earth. Although the two paintings are physically qualitatively equivalent, they can be judged correctly as having different aesthetic properties and values because of their differing history of production and their individual art historical contexts. On Earth the painting in question, say, is a great work of art, but on Twin Earth the very same (looking) painting because of its alternate artistic history could be a relatively minor piece and a derived work with limited artistic value. They are not the same painting because of these historical and aesthetic differences in both value and properties.
So, to be consistent, following Goodman and others, one needs to say comparable things about musical artworks, e.g. songs. Just because two exemplars are acoustically identical does not make them have equivalent aesthetic properties, but sonicism commits itself to defending that the ONLY relevant properties for determining song identity are acoustic ones and these are physical properties. Hence Sonicism's basic and foundational stance of acoustic properties singularly determining song identity cannot be correct given that physical properties by themselves cannot determine all aesthetic values of an artwork and two comparable exemplars do not need to be the same artwork or have the same aesthetic identity or values.
On the other hand, Goodman characterizes an allographic work as one whose individuation does not require that work's history of production needing to be taken into account. “For an art to become allographic depends upon establishment of a practice of classifying instances into works in a manner independent of history of production.”
Denis Dutton quickly points out that [this] “all . . . seems wrong, and so, in so far as the above is taken to explicate the autographic/allographic distinction, the earlier interpretation accorded it must be incorrect - or, at the least, inadequate or incomplete.” This is because the characterization of individuation of an artwork independently of its means of production is impossible because of the need to determine genuineness of a work. Being genuine cannot be determined without use of the means of production. Dutton explains: “Individuation in every art is inherently linked to history of production, and sameness of spelling is never sufficient to establish that a given item is an instance of this work rather than that. This in fact is evident if genuineness itself is analyzed: 'genuine' is the logically primary term, and 'genuineXY' the logically primary locution, with X' specifying the provenance of issue. Hence, genuineness itself is analyzed in terms of history of production, and so, as the individuation of all works of art involves the determination of genuineness, the individuation of all works of art is caught up with, and infected by, history of production.”
OS3: Performance of Musical Works Necessarily Require the Possibility of a Commendation Scale
Isn't it true that for something to count as an art work it must necessarily be the type of event that merits praise or blame, i.e., open to a critique of its artistic merits, especially as regards the quality of the means of production? We give credit/critique to an infinite number of degrees of good or bad to the artist producing and causing the work to be exemplified. In the Rock version of "Well You Needn't" it would be foolish and a type of category mistake to use any evaluative style predicates to commend or deplore HOW the rocks had 'played' the song. The rocks neither caused the song to be played well nor poorly. It just happened, but it didn't happen with any artistic level of good or bad performance. This is because rocks cannot produce a performance of a musical work in nature whenever there is no intentional agency involved. Because Sonicism appeals exclusively to acoustic properties, sonicism is committed to maintaining that the Rock version of "Well You Needn't" is an exemplar of that song. Yet if all musical performances necessarily require the possibility of the performance being commendatory (or its opposite) then since the rocks are impossible to be commended or deplored for their action in causing the Rock version of this Monk tune, then sonicism cannot be the correct theory for determining song identity and when a song exists.
So if there's no intentional agents involved, then rocks falling off a cliff hitting a piano and playing "Well You Needn't" by Thelonious Monk have not produced any music, nor a song. Hence, even when two sound events are sonically indistinguishable, it doesn't follow each is a song, or even music. When a musician does the same thing on the piano as the falling rocks, so the two songs according to the sonicist are identical, but on the requirement that intentional agents must be in the causal chain for musical production to be exemplified, one is not a song since it was not caused in the correct way, and sonicism is defeated.
Julian Dodd's Possible Response To Above in Defense of Sonicism
Dodd could conceivably grant the point above that all performances of musical works require a commendation scale, while not having this affect Sonicism's commitment to claiming the Rock version of "Well You Needn't" is identical to one played by Monk himself. Recall the objection was that the Rock version was not a performance of "Well You Needn't" because any performance requires the possibility of being on a commendation scale from various forms of bad (See Ontmusic28. Bad Music: What makes it bad? ) to exemplary (See Ontmusic29. Good Music: What makes it good?). The Rock version lacks any intentional agency on the part of the falling rocks upon the piano keyboard yet manages to acoustically produce a version sounding like Monk's performance we are considering.
One way to avoid the objection that Dodd might take is to deny that the rocks in the Rock version were producing or causing any performance of "Well You Needn't." The rocks caused the production of this sonic event. Dodd can deny it was a performance, while nevertheless maintaining it is a production of the song. This sonic event is identical to that sonic event over there and therefore it is the same song being performed by the intentional agent, or so Dodd could claim, but in the Rock version there is no performance, but only causation by the rocks that hit the keyboard.
OS4: Two Non-acoustically non-Identical Songs Can Be the Same Musical Work
In "The Metaphysics of Jazz" Young and Matheson justify the claim that two non-sonically identical musical performances can be of the same musical work, that is, each can be of the same song even though not sounding alike.
➢ How is this possible?
It is possible if non-acoustically identical songs can be performances of the same work. What would make this possible?
It is possible if the criteria for song performance is not solely determined by musical note identity to a score.
Young and Matheson develop a theory of how this works in their "The Metaphysics of Jazz." They call it "fidelity" to a song. They start out by pointing out that one can have two different sound events that are "dramatically different" of the very same sonata because each "share a fidelity" to the compositional work being performed.
They continue to argue a parallel can exist for two acoustically different improvised works if each "complies with the same set of loose, tacit guidelines or instructions" for having performed that very composition. Their reasoning is that this compliance with a particular loose set of guidelines is sufficient for song performance without the requirement of sonic identity or even the need for prior musically notated scores to exist. Summarily, then, on their theory, two jazz performances could be instances of a common work when they shared “a common starting point in a common but loose set of tacit instructions."
Later in their article they point out that they "would hold that two performances of, say, "Greensleeves," can be instances of a type. In this case, the type is an "Elizabethan standard."
Reasons to Believe Non-sonically non-Identical Performances Can Be of the Same Song
Consider this last point first. Fred and Mary are two trumpet players with good musical skills and good memories. Fred makes up a tune on the spot. It is short enough that Mary, who has an excellent memory, reproduces it note for note, but the two trumpets still have differing acoustic properties because of the physics of materials and sound generation so sound comparable and similar, but not acoustically identical by any means. Has Mary played the same song as Fred played?
Most people, it is claimed here, would say that Fred and Mary have played the same song.
➢ First, why would they think this is true? Second, what would make it possible for it to be true? Lastly, how does this affect sonicism?
Why think it is true that two performances of the same song needn't sound alike? If this was a requirement for song identity then there have never been two performances of the same song and never will be. Two acoustic events are never sonically identical because of differences in the physics of the two situations. Different wind currents, amount of breath of the performers, or planes flying overhead, etc. would all alter the sonic event properties. This is too radical a conclusion and forms a reductio ad absurdum argument against sonicism's equivalence principle. The argument is this: (1) In the history of music, there have been two performances of the same song. (2) Sonicism's requirement of acoustic identity would make this physically impossible. Therefore, sonicism is a mistaken doctrine.
➢ What would permit different sonic events to count as performances of the same song?
Following the theory proposed by Young and Matheson, as well as common sense, two different acoustic events can still be performances of the same song because the common requirements for having performed that particular song are somewhat flexible. This flexibility is inherent and unremovable from the equation for what counts as a performance of a song. No set of instructions, no matter how detailed, can be followed by any musician without interjection of their own indivividual and idiosyncratic musical input for what needs to be done to accomplish having played a particular song.
➢ What are the rules or guidelines typically used for song compliance and judgments of having performed the song?
A good guideline is to satisfy some combination of the following considerations:
- Musician(s) intend(s) to play this specific song.
- To the listener it sounds like and reminds the person of the song in question.
- The performance features the melody of the song prominently.
- The configuration of musicians and instruments are typical for performing this song.
- The musicians used and followed the written score of the song.
- There were limited and infrequent non-intentional departures from whatever is considered having conformed to a written musical score.
This list starts to provide considerations for creating a weighted and sliding scale for determining variations in achievement of having performed a particular song.
Ultimately, it even appears that the guidelines for achieving song performance can be quite loose and vary amongst potential performers. We expect much more musical sophistication and technical skills from an accomplished musician over a beginning student. At a student recital even if a student plays a song quite poorly with much to critique in the performance, there remains the tendency to claim that the student played that particular song badly, but played it nevertheless.
Often, improvisers base their improvisations on the chord changes to a song relying on that song's structural features to influence what he or she plays during the improvisation. If a song is first played straight, then improvised upon, then the main melody returns as the song closes, this is often a situation where competent judges, the expert musicians themselves, would consider that that song has been played and performed showing that different acoustic performances can count as the performance of the same song. If true, sonicism is a false doctrine.
Internet Resources on Songs
- What are Songs? What is Music? Philosophy Tube featuring This Exists
- What is a Song? at History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web (first developed in 1998 by the American Social History Project/Center for Media & Learning, City University of New York and the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University)
- Jerry Flattum on What is a Song?
- Common Types of Song Forms
- Peter Kivy, Introduction to A Philosophy of Music, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002, p. 213 with author's original emphases included in quotation.
- Monroe Beardsley, The Aesthetic Point of View: Selected Essays, Michael J. Wreen and Donald M. Callen (eds.), Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982, pp. 311-312.
- Randall R. Dipert, "Art, Artifacts, and Regarded Intentions," The American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 23, 1986, p. 402.
- See Denis Dutton's article, "Forgery and Plagiarism," Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, edited by Ruth Chadwick, 4 vols., San Diego: Academic Press, 1998.
- "Forgery and Plagiarism," Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, edited by Ruth Chadwick, 4 vols, San Diego: Academic Press, 1998, 2nd paragraph.
- "Forgery and Plagiarism," Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, edited by Ruth Chadwick, 4 vols, San Diego: Academic Press, 1998, 3rd paragraph; italics not in original.
- "Forgery and Plagiarism," Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, edited by Ruth Chadwick, 4 vols, San Diego: Academic Press, 1998, 3rd paragraph.
- "Forgery and Plagiarism," in the Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, edited by Ruth Chadwick, in 4 vols, San Diego: Academic Press, 1998, Part III: Responses to Forgery and Plagiarism, 4th paragraph.
- Arthur Danto, "The Artworld," The Journal of Philosophy, 1964, reproduced in The Nature of Art: An Anthology, edited by Thomas E. Wartenberg, 3rd ed., 2012, p. 218.
- "Sounds, Instruments, and Works of Music," Julian Dodd in Philosophers On Music, Kathleen Stock (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 23-24.
- Review of Julian Dodd's Works of Music, Christopher Bartel in The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 237, October, 2009, p. 761.
- Review of Julian Dodd's Works of Music, Christopher Bartel in The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 237, October, 2009, p. 762.
- Stephen Davies, Definitions of Art, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991, p. 183. (http://www.questia.com/read/103717142/definitions-of-art)
- "Goodman on Forgery," Michael Wreen, The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 33, no. 133, (Oct., 1983), pp. 340-353, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Scots Philosophical Association and the University of St. Andrews. Stable URL: jstor/2219161.
- Nelson Goodman in his Problems and Projects, New York, 1972, p. 136.
- "The Metaphysics of Jazz," James O. Young and Carl Matheson, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 58:2, Spring 2000, p. 125.
- "The Metaphysics of Jazz," James O. Young and Carl Matheson, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 58:2, Spring 2000, p. 126.