MUSIC AND MORALS:
Arts Appreciation Unappreciated
The issues considered here were raised for me recently on two separate occasions. The first occasion was upon learning that an eleven year old relative of mine in the fifth grade was required to write a six page paper on the life of Beethoven, and took an examination which included such questions as, "What are the four styles of Baroque music" and "Why do people stand during Handel's hallelujah chorus?" The boy told me how much he enjoys Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier. His private grade school has separate courses on different periods of music history. The school's catalog informs us that: "Second graders undertake year-long studies of famous artists and composers. Mozart, Cézanne and Picasso are familiar people to second-graders. By creating time lines of the artists' lives and work, second-graders develop reading, writing, history and math skills." With a total of roughly 400 students, the upper school (grades 9 through 12) offers the following courses in music:(3)
Music 600: Music Theory I
Music 601: Masterpieces of Music
Music 602: Music Theory II
Music 603: Music in the 20th Century
Music 604: Chorale
Music 605: Composition
Music 607: Orchestra
Music 610: Music Literature
Music 611: Music in Our World
Music 623: AP Art and Music History
By contrast, when I asked my class of roughly 25 college students how many had ever had a course in music appreciation, the answer was zero. This response raises some interesting questions: If schools do not introduce students to works of artistic genius, who will? How much talent has gone unrealized simply because young people have never been exposed to arts which may have ignited their latent gifts? Most importantly, if the majority of America's youth are never exposed to Western civilization's greatest cultural achievements, what will be the result for both?
Why Are Arts Appreciation Courses So Unappreciated?
Why are courses in arts appreciation not available to every student in America? To some extent, of course, it has to do with financial priorities. But perhaps it also has to do with the creeping egalitarianism which has infected much of the educational system, as in the case of "social promotion." Recall that "instruction in music has always been an essential part of an aristocratic ethic."(4) Beyond that, it has been charged that the critique of popular culture constitutes "a plea for the restoration of an elitist order by the creators of high culture."(5)
That "high" art(6) should be historically associated with aristocracy is hardly an accident, since it was the aristocracy alone which had the money to hire the leading composers and artisans, providing them with the time which they needed to be productive, as well as sufficient leisure time to do the necessary study required to transcend base tastes. Once the aristocracy no longer existed to pay artists to produce refined products for a select audience, the result was that artists of all kinds (excepting, of course, the few independently wealthy) had to produce works for which the broad population was willing to pay, and this in effect places the audience in charge of composition. Unfortunately, "vulgarity in the audience usually influences the music, so that it imparts a special kind of character to those artists who practice it with a view to suit the audience. . . . " (Aristotle, Politics 1341b16).(7)
Freedom is another issue in this regard -- specifically, the freedom to make of an artwork what one will. Gans argues that "the critics of mass culture are creator-oriented; they argue that differences of perspective between creators and users should not exist because users must bend to the will of creators, taking what is given them, and treating culture from the creator's perspective." That users ought (not must) bend to the will of creators would seem to make perfect sense so long as the creators in question have something of rare importance to offer us. That strikes me as both true and unobjectionable, though there is some ambiguity here. If I seek a full understanding of, say, the films of Leni Riefenstahl, then I must understand (inter alia) her motivation in producing the films, but I need not "bend to her will" in the sense that I accept her moral or aesthetic perspective as my own. Indeed, I cannot rightfully reject it unless I first understand it. I can also distinguish between her greatness as a technician and the moral intent of her creation, much as I might do with Wagner's operas.
That Gans has a materialist bent is made clear by his claim that "the cultural level of a society is a less important criterion of a desirable society than some others, notably the extent to which the society provides a decent standard of living to all its members without exploiting some for the benefit of all others."(8) But where does the ability and desire to provide a decent standard of living come from? A decent material standard of living presumably derives from technical knowledge, while a concern for distributive justice derives from a certain sort of moral commitment. And what is the source of these? Is there no connection between these and the "cultural level of a society"?
The sort of peer pressure characteristic among teens is another contributing factor in the leveling of taste. Unlike Allan Bloom, however, I do not believe that rock music necessarily "ruins the imagination of young people and makes it difficult for them to have passionate relationships to the art and thought that are the substance of liberal education."(9) Rather, I see popular music as part of a constellation of cultural forms which can exist in tandem with more sophisticated tastes, just as one can appreciate an occasional bag of potato chips even if one happens to be a gourmet.(10)
In addition, there exists a prevalent notion that the arts amount to little more than a form of entertainment: "transient and necessary recreation amid the serious labours of life," as Tocqueville put it.(11) As such, the arts are of dubious value for an educational curriculum. That music is something to be taken seriously is, however, an idea which long antedates the Taliban's proscribing of all music and the Soviet Union's banning of rock and roll. Both regimes understood the political power of music. Plato, Aristotle and Confucius, to name only three of many important thinkers, gave music serious attention as a political force, a view which has support from a recent psychology experiment.(12)
For the most part, so-called "moral philosophers" have sought the most fundamental principle(s) of moral action, having argued for such principles as utility, the categorical imperative, etc. A different approach (serving as a propadeutic) might be a phenomenology of moral experience; that is, an investigation of characteristic experiences associated with the apprehension of behavior deemed moral or immoral on the part of others or oneself. Such an inquiry might be undertaken as a means of identifying homologous structures obtaining between aesthetic and moral judgment. What parallels exist between moral and aesthetic goodness? Might it be the case that an appreciation of one of these kinds of goodness affects one's ability to appreciate the other? If it can be shown that fundamental homologies do in fact exist between these two types of judgment, then the question arises as to whether one's ability to judge in one case might not influence one's ability to judge in the other.
Plato and Aristotle on Music Education
"The standard by which music [i.e., mousikê, which for the Greeks was sung poetry] should be judged," Plato writes in the Laws, "is the pleasure it gives, but not the pleasure given to any and every auditor. We may take it that the finest music is that which delights the best men, the properly educated, that, above all, which pleases the one man who is supreme in goodness and education" (Laws 658e-659a). But the same may be said of actions, insofar as the morally best actions are those which delight the morally best persons and repulse the worst, while the worst actions are those which repulse the best while appealing to the worst.
For the Greeks, a close connection exists between the ethical and the aesthetic. In classical Greek, the word kalos binds what we (as speakers of English) distinguish as the ethical and aesthetic. Kalos is often translated quite reasonably as "fair,"(13) and the fact that "fair" can mean either "just" (i.e., equitable) or "beautiful" suggests a connection between the aesthetic and the moral, as does the fact that the Hellenes regarded physical beauty as sharing the attribute of proper proportion with noble deeds, i.e., avoiding excess and deficiency.(14) Both the moral and aesthetic realms involve the exercise of judgment which must be cultivated if actions and works of art are to be properly evaluated as moral or beautiful. We are all born, one might say, tasteless and undiscriminating, awaiting a civilizing influence.(15)
For the Greeks, an essential component in a youth's education consisted of learning to associate pleasures and pains with the appropriate activities and experiences.(16) Both Plato and Aristotle (in consonance with popular Greek belief) argued for a close connection between music and moral character. To some extent, this claim can be attributed to the nature of ancient Greek music and the role it played in society. Edward Lippman notes:
"That the ethical effects of music described in ancient Greek literature and philosophy have been increasingly difficult to believe or to take at face value in more recent times may vary well be due to our neglect of certain important features of ancient music that we easily overlook in the perspective that has been produced by the independence of instrumental music, the autonomy of the aesthetic apprehension, and the predominance of listening over amateur performance. Inherent in the nature of ancient music was its existence in the context of a specific social or ritual occasion, the presence of words as an intrinsic part of the music, and the prevalence, finally, of participation over listening. When these features are taken into account, the ethical and emotional force of music, together with the defined character of this force, is not difficult to understand."(17)
Tocqueville was surely correct in saying that the writings of the ancients are "admirably calculated to counterbalance our peculiar defects."(18) However, since the Greek view on these topics seems alien to our own ways of thinking, we might ask whether the problem lies in our way of thinking or in theirs. Were the Greeks correct in postulating a close analogy between aesthetic experience and moral character, between mousikê and êthos?
Plato appears to have followed the sophist/musicologist Damon, a pupil of Prodikos and teacher of Pericles, who held that there was an indissoluble connection between social conditions and music, such that musical changes inevitably entail legal ones.(19) Plato has his character Protagoras say:
"The lyre players . . . cultivate self-control in order that the youths not commit evil deeds; in addition, having learned to play the lyre, they teach them the works of good poets of another sort, namely the lyrical, which they accompany on the lyre, accustoming the minds of the children with harmonia and rhythmia. By this means their harmonia and rhythmia become better, and so they become more civilized [or "tamer"], and so more capable in whatever they say or do, for good harmonia and rhythmia are required by the whole of human life" (Protagoras 326a-b).(20)
Note the connection between reason, beauty and measure. The idea is that the self develops by internalizing qualities characteristic of its experiences and responds to harmonia in music because it is itself a kind of harmonia: "We seem to have a certain affinity with modes(21) and rhythms, owing to which many wise men say either that the self is a harmonia or that it has harmonia" (Aristotle, Politics 1340b; cf. Plato, Phaedo 93c; Rep. 482c).(22) It is significant that Plato speaks of music as making youth more capable, as this does not suggest that music studies necessarily cause one to become good, but rather that it predisposes one as a result of providing certain capabilities. Moreover, the kind of music to which one becomes accustomed in childhood influences one's later life:
"If a man has from childhood to the age of steadiness and good judgment been reared hearing moderate and measured music, he is repelled by the sound of the opposite kind and pronounces it vulgar; if brought up on music of the popular, sweet kind, he finds its opposite cold and displeasing. Thus, as was just said, neither type has any advantage or disadvantage over the other in respect of pleasing or displeasing, and there is the consideration that the one regularly makes those who are brought up on it better, the other worse." (Plato, Laws 802c)
In the Republic Socrates asks:
"Is it not for this reason . . . that education in music is most sovereign, because more than anything else, rhythmia and harmonia find their way to the inmost soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with them and imparting grace, if one is rightly trained, and otherwise the contrary? And further, because omissions and the failure of beauty in things badly made or grown would be most quickly perceived by one who was properly educated in music, and so, feeling distaste rightly, he would praise beautiful things and take delight in them and receive them into his soul to foster its growth and become himself beautiful and good. The ugly he would rightly disapprove of and detest while still young and unable to grasp rational speech, but when reason came the man thus nurtured would be the first to give her welcome, for by this affinity he would know her" (Republic 401d-402a; tr. Shorey with modifications).
In what sense might one consider music education to be "most sovereign"? A consideration of the differences between vision and audition may be helpful. First, we do not need to prevent our bodies from moving while experiencing sound as we do when appreciating a physical object such as a painting or sculpture, or while reading a literary work. Indeed, music in some cases makes us want to move our bodies, which suggests that our entire physical being is being affected.(23) And because our ears are much less directional than our eyes and have nothing comparable to eyelids, we cannot escape sounds as easily as sights from which we can simply shut our eyes or turn away. Ears are more vulnerable to assault than are eyes. From an aural standpoint, it therefore makes little sense to speak of an "external world," as so many epistemologists have done. Music is not "out there" in the way that a painting is; it envelops us. For such reasons, music may prove irresistible in a way that the other arts cannot. John Dewey writes: "Generically speaking, what is seen stirs emotion indirectly, through interpretation and allied idea. Sound agitates directly, as a commotion of the organism itself. Hearing and sight are often classed together as the 'intellectual' senses. In reality the intellectual range of hearing although enormous is acquired; in itself the ear is the emotional sense."(24)
While Aristotle admits that "it is not easy to say precisely what potency [music] possesses" (Politics 1339a17), he also reflects on whether it is capable of "producing a certain quality of character, just as gymnastics are capable of producing a certain quality of body" (Politics 1339a23). He states:
"It is proper to see if music's influence reaches in a manner to the character and to the soul. And this would clearly be the case if we are affected in our characters in a certain manner by it. But it is clear that we are affected in a certain manner, both by many other kinds of music and not least by the melodies of Olympus(25); for these admittedly make our souls enthusiastic [literally, "divinely inspired"], and enthusiasm is an affection of the character of the soul. And moreover everybody when listening to imitations is thrown into a corresponding state of feeling, even apart from the rhythms and songs themselves [or 'by the rhythms and tunes themselves, even apart from the words']." (Politics1340a2, f.)
I assume that when Aristotle speaks of listening to "imitations," he means that musical sounds convey feelings which imitate feelings we might experience during everyday events; i.e., music in effect abstracts feelings from lived experiences. Music conveys emotions through non-verbal aural means, much as pantomime conveys emotions to us by non-verbal visual means. Although all music is sound, not all sound is music. To be recognized as music, sound must convey a special meaning, much as is the case with spoken language. When one is fearful or harried, e.g., one typically speaks quickly, while pitch is less important under such circumstances. Dewey writes: "Music, having sound as its medium . . . expresses in a concentrated way the shocks and instabilities, the conflicts and resolutions, that are the dramatic changes enacted upon the more enduring background of nature and human life."(26) Perhaps an advantage of this is that it would make possible the experiencing of certain emotions through the arts which would not be likely to be felt in one's everyday life. If so, then learning to appreciate certain types of music (as well as the other arts) might serve as a corrective for persons in whose everyday lives beauty, e.g., is alien.
Mood and Behavior
Music both reflects and elicits various moods and certain moods are typically associated with specific sorts of behavior.(27) That certain sorts of music are regarded as appropriate to certain sorts of activities seems plain enough: We would not play a funeral march at a wedding. Lullabies have a soporific quality. Indian music is well known for its ragas, which are deemed suitable only for certain times of the day. Throughout recorded history, music has been used in a variety of social situations to promote moods appropriate to that situation, such as liturgical music to elevate one's spirit or promote a reflective mood. I think also of a film I have seen in which Emil Gilels plays Rachmaninoff's G-minor prelude to pump up the adrenaline of Russian flyers before they leave to engage the Nazis.
Were I to teach a course in music appreciation, I would attempt to reveal the congruence between music and behavior in the following manner: I would have the class listen to a variety of different kinds of music and ask them to imagine that each of the excerpts were from the soundtrack of a movie. They would then be asked to describe what sorts of events would be taking place in the imaginary film. Any consensus that might exist would in itself pose a number of questions. In this way, they would be led to understand that the sorts of feelings elicited by music are more or less congruent with certain sorts of action. And when one considers that actions are elicited by feelings, one cannot help but wonder about the moral ramifications of the mentality engendered by much of the popular culture aimed at teens.
Consider so-called "gangsta rap." What are the feelings elicited by it? Given its heavily declamatory nature, typical rap music bears little resemblance to other forms of music, either in terms of the music or lyrics. Rap is sometimes said to be an expression of anger on the part of inner city youth toward inequities in the justice system. But such inequities have existed for many years, often in a much more severe form. What seems to have changed is society's willingness to tolerate lyrics which denigrate and advocate violence toward women and police. Moreover, rap has great appeal to upper middle class white youth who do not experience such inequities, yet judging from the number of school shootings in recent years, the anger attributed to urban youth must extend well beyond the confines of the barrio.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. acknowledges that violence in rap is extreme, but argues: "When you're faced with a stereotype, you can disavow it or you can embrace it and exaggerate it to the nth degree. The rappers take the white Western culture's worst fear of black men and make a game out of it." But that would hardly explain why so many rappers have been arrested. By contrast, I cannot recall a single classical musician being arrested. So while there may be no simple causal connection between the music one prefers and one's behavior, there seems to be at least a correlation here which needs explanation.
Russell Simmons, a leading rap impresario, has stated on television that one of the virtues of rap is that it provides a commonality to poor and wealthy youth. Kathleen Higgins similarly claims that: "music's affective character, which involves intersubjective empathy and often shared delight, makes listeners socially aware of their intimate connection with others -- and does so in a context in which social and individual existence are not at odds. Engaging in satisfying shared experience heightens our receptivity and emotional sensitivity."(28) But this is as true of a neo-Nazi "rave" as it is of any other gathering for the purposes of musical enjoyment. Some communities exist to serve ignoble ends. Moreover, in some contexts music can exclude as well as include. Classical music has lately been put to an innovative use in a number of American cities: It is played on public address systems in areas known to be frequented by drug dealers, whose distaste for the music inspires them to take leave (see Appendix III, below). The sort of community created by interest in a celebrity -- who, as Daniel Boorstin so well put it, is someone well known for his well-knownness -- produces a pseudo-community in the sense that the participants do not share any ideals or common projects, merely a passive experience.
Higgins defines appreciation as "a particular response to some highly valued thing or person, and it is characterized by one's imaginatively assuming a perspective that is unusually unegoistic."(29) But this definition fails to distinguish between importantly different ways of being unegoistic. That which moves the listener at a "rave," e.g., is typically a powerful, loud beat -- in short, a seemingly unstoppable motion which sweeps one along with it, paralleling the prominent role of action films at the theater. The sort of non-egoistic, reflective, analytical detachment required for true aesthetic appreciation does not come into play here, for in this instance appreciation amounts to no more than immediate, visceral enjoyment,(30) whereas "anything which alters consciousness in the direction of unselfishness, objectivity and realism is to be connected with virtue."(31)
The differences in the demeanors of rock and classical audiences (and in the performers) reflect the different purposes of those concerts, the latter more likely to be reflective and respectful of both performer and composer.(32) Much as gang graffiti visually booms its presence to make known the existence of its creator, the overriding message of rap is: "Hear what I have to say!" -- with the emphasis very much on "I". Steven Best and Douglas Kellner, who are sympathetic in the main towards rap, write: "[I]n much rap music, 'black pride' mutates into overweening hubris and machismo taken to absurd extremes. It quickly becomes clear that many rappers only condemn violence when it is directed against them; otherwise, they celebrate it, internalize it, and embrace it as an ethos and means of self expression."(33)
It has been suggested (I believe correctly) that the problem of violence among minority youth (in particular) is attributable to (1) beliefs on the part of such youth that race and class place them so far outside the mainstream that they will never find a place within; (2) environmental factors (poverty-stricken and/or violence-prone homes); (3) absence of role models (e.g., never seeing disputes resolved other than violently); (4) reluctance on the part of parents and the adult community to make judgments about right and wrong for fear of appearing to be intolerant, and reluctance of baby-boom parents to impose values on their offspring, to which we can attribute (5) no concept of selflessness.(34) In short, such youth have been exposed and subject to experiences and their attendant feelings which should never have taken place, while failing to have the sorts of salutary experiences needed for proper socialization.
How Does Arts Appreciation Education Benefit Youth?
What then are the salutary effects for the young of learning to appreciate great art? First, I submit that education in the arts does for the senses what education in critical thinking does for cognition.(35) The effect on cognitive skills appears to be supported by empirical studies:
"Students of the arts continue to outperform their non-arts peers on the SAT, according to reports by the College Entrance Examination Board. In 2000, SAT takers with coursework/experience in music performance scored 55 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 38 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework or experience in the arts. Scores for those with coursework in music appreciation were 61 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math portion."(35)
According to a study reported by the New York Times:
"more than 2,000 college students participating in 31 studies listened to several different kinds of music, as well as to silence and to a vocal-relaxation tape. They scored higher on spatial-reasoning tests after hearing Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn than under any other conditions, including listening to music by Philip Glass, Pearl Jam and other rock groups. Music with a complex structure and rhythm won out over repetitious, more predictable music."(36)
Such test results should seem less surprising once one considers that in a typical class it is simply presupposed that students can and will pay attention, whereas in the case of arts appreciation courses, paying attention is itself that which is being developed and refined. It is the fact that attentive, analytical listening plays an important role in the appreciation of great music which explains the fact that connoisseurs of that genre typically spend considerable time evaluating various interpretations of a given work, whereas such is not the case with popular music. (See Appendix II below for Adorno on serious vs. popular music.) The relation between the quality of a work and its performance seems insignificant in the case of popular music, whereas the Austrian pianist, Artur Schnabel (who is widely considered the definitive interpreter of Beethoven's piano music), when asked why he limits his repertoire to only a few composers, responded by saying that he is interested in performing only those works "which are better than they can be performed."(37) This is an essentially Platonic viewpoint which makes the work a sort of transcendent Form which no instantiation adequately represents. It is an eros-infused ideal.
Aesthetic perception requires that one adopt an active, inquiring stance towards one's sensory experiences (rather than discourse), and more specifically, toward objects or performances whose creators intended that those objects or performances elicit a certain mode of active, reflective response. Achieving an appropriate response requires that one attend closely, with the knowledge of how to attend and to what one ought to attend, and that in turn requires a cessation of all other pursuits and activities for the sake of undivided attention. Aesthetic education thus teaches a form of self-discipline, i.e., a form of self-control.(38) If so, and if no other activity accomplishes the same result as effectively or with the same salutary results, then one must ask what the implications of this are for the development of youth.
In the moral as in the aesthetic realm, it is important to know the proper objects of one's attention. In the film "12 Angry Men," e.g., certain jurors attend to and are repelled by irrelevant attributes of a boy on trial for the murder of his father, such as his age, his ethnicity, etc., and that repulsion accounts for their declaring him guilty. One juror (played by Jack Warden) is entirely apathetic towards the boy; his only concern is egoistic -- getting to a ball game on time. As viewers of the film, we react to the ways in which the film's characters react to the boy on trial, and how we react to their reaction is an index of our own character. Only if we imaginatively and reflectively project ourselves into the action can the film function as an artwork with the power to transform us.
By requiring us to imaginatively project ourselves into the position of another, aesthetic experience parallels the role of empathy in morals. It is a question of appreciating (understanding) what another person has either accomplished (e.g., a great work of art or heroic deed) or undergone (e.g., the pains of artistic creation and performance or of injustice). After viewing "12 Angry Men," one of my students commented: "It must have been really hard to write that story" -- a reaction which implies respect for the writer. This is the sort of appreciating of the artist's effort beyond immediate enjoyment which I have in mind. Such responsiveness to actions and their beneficial or harmful consequences is an index of moral character. Actions can be apprehended as morally significant not merely by virtue of being in violation of some principle, but only if they are apprehended as possessing an aesthetic quality; that is, only if one finds immoral action repellant and moral ones attractive. The immoral person's aesthetic response to an act is opposite to that of the moral person, whereas the amoral person does not respond at all; he or she is an-aesthetic. Dewey writes: "Responsiveness, an emotional reaction to ideas and acts, is a necessary factor in moral character."(39)
Being able to appreciate the arts, like being able to appreciate an athletic event, requires that both be intelligible as goal-oriented activities. And this requires that one acquire knowledge of what goes into the execution of those activities so that one can distinguish superior execution from inferior. "It is a thing that is impossible, or difficult, to become a good judge of performances if one has not taken part in them" (Aristotle, Politics 1340b24). Because few if any young people will ever compose music, etc., it is no easy matter to help them appreciate what the great composers, artists, etc. have accomplished, nor is it simple to have them appreciate what is involved in the performing arts, whereas young people have relatively little difficulty imaginatively identifying with professional athletes, since many of them have participated in those very sports themselves and therefore possess some understanding of the sorts of skills required to play well. Although the purpose of competing in basketball, e.g., is to sink as many baskets as possible, if that were to happen through a series of bizarre accidents, we would not say that the game had been well played. The fact that watching such a game may be amusing says nothing about how well the game has been played, since that is a matter of refined skill, and players may therefore be said to be engaged in a sort of craft -- what Plato refers to as a technê -- an activity with a pre-established end which requires knowledge of that end and which may be executed well or poorly.
Since my students tend to be as familiar with athletics as they are unfamiliar with the fine arts, I have used the following analogy as an illustration of their similarity: Imagine that you are attending a basketball game while seated next to a famous coach. Would you and he be seeing the same thing? If not, then either one of you is seeing things which are not there or is failing to see things which are there. Students of course recognize that the coach is likely to notice things which the average person would not, as a result of his greater experience, study, talent, etc.(40) The next question is whether it is better to see all that there is to be seen or not, and thus whether it is worth taking the time and trouble to be able to do that. The same issue arises with the arts. As Iris Murdoch writes: "the consumer of art has an analogous task to its producer: to be disciplined enough to see as much reality in the work as the artist has succeeded in putting into it. . . ."(42)
Some students view the coach's expertise as a drawback, saying that they believe that it would be more difficult to enjoy the game if one were to possess such expertise because one would then notice flaws invisible to most observers. But the coach's expertise cuts both ways, since it would allow the coach to perceive both good and bad playing which would remain invisible to the average spectator: "He who does not know what is done correctly would never be able to know what is done well or badly, would he?" (Plato, Laws 668d). If one's goal were to improve the quality of performance, one would need to recognize not only good playing, but poor playing as well; in short, one would wish to perceive all that is really there to be perceived. Aristoxenus of Tarentum wrote: "for the student of musical science, accuracy of sense perception is a fundamental requirement."(43)
The tacit assumption underlying these students' view is that analysis and enjoyment are mutually exclusive, that too much emphasis on analyzing the plays would interfere with one's enjoyment of the game. A similar thesis has been maintained by Nicholas Cook, a professor of music who draws quite a sharp distinction between understanding and enjoying music, between what he terms "musicological" and "musical" beauty:
"To be told that the beauty or significance of a piece of music lies in relationships that one cannot hear is to have the aesthetic validity of one's experience of the music thrown into doubt; and the manner in which music is described by professionals can only create in the untrained listener a sense of inadequacy, of feeling that though he may enjoy the music he cannot claim really to understand it."(44)
But music, like a sporting event, can be appreciated at any of a number of levels. The feeling of inadequacy which concerns Cook is from the standpoint of music as craft entirely justified, in no way invalidating whatever enjoyment may have otherwise been derived. Moreover, it simply is not the case that analysis and enjoyment are necessarily incompatible rather than complementary, though for at least some persons, analysis and enjoyment may indeed be mutually exclusive.(45) Even so, there may be good reason to improve young people's ability to analyze the arts, even if they find no enjoyment in it.
Just as one might approach an athletic event with an eye only toward pleasure or more analytically, there are also numerous ways in which one might approach music, each serving its own purpose. Theodor Adorno(46) created a typology of music listeners based on their different ways of listening. His "expert" listener "tends to miss nothing and at the same time accounts to himself for what he has heard" and understands fully the internal logic of a musical work.(47) By contrast, the "good" listener also "hears beyond musical details, makes connections spontaneously, and judges for good reason and not by arbitrary taste; but he is not, or not fully, aware of the technical and structural implications." The "culture consumer" is a "voracious listener, well-informed and a collector of records" who prefers warhorses and for whom "the structure of hearing is atomistic: the type lives in wait for specific elements, for supposedly beautiful melodies, for grandiose moments." He is more interested in what music gives him than in the demands it makes upon him. For the "emotional" listener, music triggers "instinctual stirrings otherwise tamed or repressed by norms of civilization." At this extreme of non-detachment, music becomes nothing more than the aural equivalent of a psychotropic drug. Adorno agrees fully with the American composer Charles Ives and with Plato's Athenian Stranger, who states: "Most people say . . . that the criterion for correct music is its power to provide pleasure to the soul. But that is not acceptable, nor is it at all pious to utter such a thing" (Plato, Laws 655d).
The "quantitatively most significant" of Adorno's types "is certainly the listener to whom music is entertainment and no more." The culture industry is made for that type, "whether it adjusts to him, in line with its own ideology, or whether it elicits or indeed creates that type." This sort of listening is defined more "by our displeasure in turning the radio off than by the pleasure we feel, however modestly, while it is playing." The listener of this type is "resolutely passive and fiercely opposed to the effort which a work of art demands," a "self-conscious lowbrow who makes a virtue of his own mediocrity." I would describe this person as one who is incapable of considering the possibility that it is not that certain artworks are boring, but rather that it is he who is lacking in the ability to find it anything other than boring.
What we perceive, as regulated by what we are able to perceive (i.e., the meaning of our experiences), is contingent to some degree on how we perceive; i.e., by how our capacity to perceive has been educated. Again, this point seems to have been made by the film "12 Angry Men." Perhaps because Henry Fonda's character is said to be an architect (a field on the border of science and art, thus requiring both creative imagination and knowledge of scientific principles), he is more analytical than his fellow jurors; he is the only juror initially unsatisfied by first appearances and his tenacity in attending to detail soon creates impatience in his fellow jurors. Nor does it seem accidental that the film's advertising executive character is said to "bounce back and forth like a tennis ball" when trying to decide on the defendant's guilt or innocence, reminding us that advertising panders to ever-shifting popular tastes. What people learn from their professions and elsewhere informs their perceptions, just as the way in which their perceptions have been informed is likely to lead them in certain directions in their lives, professionally and otherwise.
What Is the Result of this Lack of Appreciation for Music?
Across the music spectrum today, musical performances have become primarily a visual spectacle, a means to present the celebrity-performer rather than the music. What young people usually know of rock performers is that they are famous and rich, hence enviable. With the rise of ever more sophisticated visual media, non-visual media (notably print) have been displaced. Dialogue has been largely supplanted by visual effects in the case of film. The so-called "cult of celebrity" invades the world of classical music as well as popular. A relative of mine, who is in charge of ticket sales for the Boston Symphony, tells me that when a well known performer cancels a performance, many ticket holders become irate and are unwilling to hear the substitute, even though many (probably most) of those people would not to be able to tell the difference on strictly aural grounds. For such people, being in the presence of the celebrity means more than the musical content of the concert. Such a person presumably wishes to be able to say, "I have heard so-and-so perform," as if they have thereby achieved celebrity status themselves. In this case, the concert has become at least as visual an experience as it is aural, a means to a decidedly non-aesthetic end.
What does the shift from sound to sight portend? At the least, it shows that the substance of the concert has been unappreciated. It seems likely that this shift is related to what Roger Scruton refers to as our "culture of near total inarticulateness," and such a decline in articulateness among the public and in the media has been noted by numerous authors.(49) Watching the filmed version of a novel rather than reading it is analogous to having someone read to you at their own speed, making it difficult or impossible to stop and reflect. Goethe maintained that the more an artwork occupies the senses, the less opportunity exists for the imagination, and Neil Postman, one of our most insightful writers on the media, has noted that "Television educates by requiring children to do what television-viewing requires of them"(50) -- and that is very little. Postman notes that when watching TV: (1) no penalties exist for failing to pay attention; (2) no previous knowledge is required (TV "undermines the idea that sequence and continuity have anything to do with thought itself"); (3) no perplexity is induced (nothing needs to be remembered, studied or endured);(51) and (4) exposition is avoided (i.e., hypotheses, discussions, reasoning, etc.). A Lincoln-Douglas debate would be unthinkable in the age of the soundbite. Visual experiences in the entertainment media today are marked by speed, excitement, and unusualness of content (most often in the form of outrageousness, à la Jerry Springer or Howard Stern), reminiscent of the freak shows of days past -- consider Todd Browning's classic 1932 film, "Freaks."
At the opposite pole from speed and excitement one finds many classical CD's with the title "Composer X for Relaxation." Music's power to pacify by providing an escape from work would seem to contribute to its omnipresence. Because music has become so ubiquitous, it thereby is necessarily transformed into a background phenomenon, something to set a mood or vanquish a sense of loneliness rather than being the center of attention -- a fact which most likely has an effect on popular expectations of the art, the popular expectation being that it exists solely to either pump up or reduce the flow of adrenaline. Indeed, it often seems that the louder music is played, the less it is actually heard. Analogously, one thinks of paintings being used to "brighten a room."
The result of this leveling of taste combined with the commercialization of music in the mass media has made it possible for media conglomerates "that care nothing for art"(52) to reap huge profits by appealing to huge audiences. According to Adorno: "The promoters of commercialized entertainment exonerate themselves by referring to the fact that they are giving the masses what they want. This is an ideology appropriate to commercial purposes: the less the mass discriminates, the greater the possibility of selling cultural commodities indiscriminately."(53)
Conditions Needed to Appreciate Great Art
A commonly discussed topic among aestheticians is the question of what makes art great. According to the German musicologist Carl Dahlhaus, two ideas are connected with the concept of musical greatness: "the idea of monumentality and the idea of difficulty, of not immediate accessibility. Pairing of these aspects is precarious: an incomparable example of success in doing so is the opening chorus of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, while the opposite extremes are represented by, say, Handel on the monumental side and Webern on the inaccessible."(54) But the concept of monumentality, if taken in its normative sense, makes his definition circular. If taken as referring to size, then I would ask if it is not the case that a relatively short but brilliant work, such as Schubert's song "Erlkönig," is not musically superior to any number of larger works by lesser minds. Quantity, that is, should be in the service of quality.
All of us are able to judge aesthetic experiences immediately and non-reflectively -- the "It's good because I like it" syndrome. In short, our tastes are guided in the first instance by pre-reflective judgments. Taste is reflected in virtually all the choices we make. We refer to a lack of taste as vulgarity, for which the notion of unseemliness does not exist. Vulgarity cannot be recognized as vulgar by the vulgar, since they have no vantage point from which to identify it as such. Robert Pattison writes:
"Vulgarity is always indiscriminate, while refinement is the art of making reasoned exclusions. This art is sometimes called taste. Good taste demands the ability to transcend ordinary experience and from a higher perspective judge it. . . . The better the taste, the more completely the gross and random are excised. A black dress with a string of pearls is timeless good taste because of the calculated exclusion of all color. . . . The Hawaiian shirt is the epitome of vulgar taste. Its gross, lurid colors mix without restraint. It's worse than tasteless; in the noisy tradition of vulgarity, it's loud."(55)
Loudness (whether visual or aural) is, as the vernacular would have it, "in your face." It denies us the choice of partaking or not partaking, and may conceal that which is less conspicuous but more significant. Moreover, one must wonder whether the omnipresence of loudness in a culture means that an ever-increasing "loudness" (taking "loudness" broadly as to include, e.g., outrageous behavior) will become necessary in order to attract anyone's attention.
It is my contention that the attributes which make great art great exclude "loudness" and include (inter alia) subtlety, nuance, refinement, profundity and inexhaustibility of content (meaning). Inexhaustibility of content amounts to the ability to sustain interest indefinitely, and bearers of this attribute are what we normally mean by "classics." If these are in fact the attributes which make art great, then one must learn to recognize and appreciate such qualities if one is to appreciate great art. The crucial difference between high art and mere entertainment has to do with passivity and activity. Mere entertainment aims at eliciting a passive, visceral response, but great art aims at changing us by helping us penetrate reality and understand it, rather than escaping from it:
"The 'higher consciousness' of the great artist is evidenced not only by his capacity for ordering his experience, but also by having his experience. His world may differ from that of the ordinary man as the world of the ordinary man differs from that of a dog, in the extent of his contact with reality as well as in his superior organization of it. . . .
"What art does do is to communicate to us an attitude, an attitude taken up by the artist consequent upon his perceptions, which perceptions may be perceptions of factors in reality. It is characteristic of the greatest art that the attitude it communicates to us is felt by us to be valid, to be the reaction to a more subtle and comprehensive contact with reality than we normally make....
Beethoven does not communicate to us his perceptions or his experiences. He communicates to us the attitude based on them. . . . He lived in a universe richer than ours, in some ways better than ours and in some ways more terrible. And yet we recognize his universe and find his attitudes towards it prophetic of our own. It is indeed our own universe, but as experienced by a consciousness which is aware of aspects of which we have but dim and transitory glimpses."(56)
The second experience which raised these issues for me happened while I was a guest on a radio talk show. The discussion dealt with the purported influence of popular culture on antisocial behavior. (I have condensed some social scientific findings on this issue in Appendix I, below.) It then occurred to me that whenever I have heard adults discussing such tragedies as the Columbine massacre, they invariably speculate on how sex and violence in the media (so-called "gangsta" rap being a prime concern) may be implicated in such events.(59) Interestingly, they seem to assume that simply removing negative influences will be sufficient to produce a desirable crop of youth -- a variant of the view that not doing harm is sufficient to justify ourselves morally.(60) This is analogous to thinking that the flowers in your garden will flourish if you do no more than remove all the weeds, i.e., that removing negative influences on moral character without providing positive ones is sufficient for the formation of moral character -- a sort of laissez-faire morality.(61) Being good is equated with doing no harm; thus, on such a view (sometimes referred to as "minimal morality") the ideal person might be on life support. But not experiencing ugliness or vice is no substitute for experiencing beauty and virtue (i.e., moral excellence).(62) For Friedrich von Schiller, "Though need may drive man into society, and reason implant social principles in him, beauty alone can confer on him a social character. Taste alone brings harmony into society, because it establishes harmony in the individual."(63)
Thinking about popular culture (an oxymoron if culture is taken in a normative sense) is like thinking about junk food, in the sense that what junk food is, is less important than what it is not, viz., productive of excellent health. The same holds true of popular culture -- the mental equivalent of junkfood.(64) If so, then we need to consider what pop culture is not, viz., the basis for an adequate moral and aesthetic education, which in turn leads us to consider connections between the aesthetic and moral dimensions of life. Foods, like the arts, may serve multiple purposes. Whereas food may provide pleasure to the palate or nutritional value to the body, the arts also may provide pleasure, but unlike food, they can have a salutary effect on moral character. Just as there is good reason to educate everyone on which foods are nutritional and which are not, even though we can be quite certain that many people will prefer junk foods as the staple of their diets, it would seem to be quite worthwhile for society to provide education in the high arts even if many fail to benefit thereby. The fact that some people glean from high art only pleasure says more about them than about the arts.
Gans provides an example of what I would regard as minimal morality, claiming that an attempt to universalize high art "would be justified if the critics could prove that popular culture harmed society or a significant number of individuals, interfered with the achievement of the goals of the majority of citizens, or seriously endangered the goals of a minority."(65) But he seems to confuse making high art universally appreciated with censoring popular art. He is correct in claiming that it is unrealistic to expect that the majority of the population will ever prefer higher art to lower -- what Adorno refers to as "an inhumanly utopian enterprise"(66) -- but the purpose of providing education in high art is not that it will ever become popular, any more than students are expected to take algebra or calculus with the expectation that many of them will become mathematicians or enjoy working on such problems in later life. High art is presented to students because it is far less likely that they will encounter it in their everyday lives than popular art, because a minority of students will continue to pursue it, and because of likely ethetic benefits. Although not many students will go on to make major contributions as a result of their education, no one without an education will do so.
Appendix I: Psychological Studies on
the Effect of Music
[Author's Note: I have condensed the findings below, which can be found in their original, unabridged form on the University of Leicester's web page at: www.le.ac.uk/psychology/acn5/ dpm2ch7.html]
Music videos were evaluated more positively by working class subjects and those who seldom or never attended church than they were by subjects from a college town or who attended church regularly.
A link was found between preference for heavy metal and increased belief in witchcraft and the occult. Wass, Miller & Stevenson (1988) studied 9th to 12th Graders. 17.5% were fans of rock music with lyrics that promoted homicide, suicide, or satanic practices. As compared with people who did not like this music, the fans were more likely to have parents who never married or remarried, to be white, male, and enrolled in urban but not parochial schools.
Heavy metal fans were higher on measures of "Machiavellianism" and "machismo," and were lower on measures of need for cognition than were non-fans: similarly, punk fans were less accepting of authority than were non-fans.
Experimental exposure to antisocial music videos increased subjects' tolerance of antisocial behaviour (i.e. an obscene hand gesture) as compared with exposure to non-antisocial videos.
Took and Weiss (1994) studied 12-18 year olds, comparing subjects who preferred rap and heavy metal with those who preferred other musical styles. The former group had a higher incidence of below average school grades, school behaviour problems, sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, and arrests.
Johnson, Gatto, and Johnson (1995- ) asked subjects to watch violent rap videos, non-violent rap videos, or no music videos before responding to scenarios presented in vignettes. Subjects in the violent video condition expressed (1) a higher probability that they would engage in violence; (2) greater acceptance of the violence described in a vignette; (3) greater acceptance of the use of violence against a woman described in a vignette; and (4) greater identification with a materialistic young man described in a vignette.
Subjects exposed to violent rap videos expressed greater acceptance of the use of violence described in a vignette, and reported a higher probability that they would engage in violence. Also, subjects exposed to either violent or non-violent rap videos were more likely than other subjects to say that they wanted to be like a materialistic young man described in a vignette; and they were less confident that an academic young man described in a vignette would achieve his educational goals.
The effects of pop videos may be particularly detrimental for females. Strouse, Roscoe, and Goodwin found that involvement with pop music was associated with acceptance of sexual harassment, especially for females.
Appendix II: Adorno on Serious vs. Popular Music
The following tables were created by David Held as a schema to show how Adorno contrasts "serious" and "popular" music.(67)
The structure of production and composition of serious and popular
Every part/detail depends 'for its musical sense on the concrete totality
and never on a mere enforcement of a musical scheme'
Musical compositions follow familiar patterns/frameworks: they are stylized.
Little originality is introduced
Themes and details are highly interwoven with the whole
Structure of the whole does not depend upon details – whole is not altered
by individual detail
Themes are carefully developed
Melodic structure is highly rigid and is frequently repeated
Details can not be changed without altering the whole – details almost contain/anticipate
Harmonic structure embodies a set scheme (‘The most primitive harmonic tacts
are emphasised'). Complications has no effect on structure of work – they do not develop themes
Consistency is maintained between formal structure and content (themes)
Stress is on combination of individual ‘effects' – on sound, colour, tone,
If standard schemes are employed (e.g., for dance) they still maintain a
key role in the
Improvisations become ‘normalized' (the boys can only ‘swing it' in a narrow
framework). Details are substitutable (they ‘serve their function as cogs in machines')
Emphasizes norms of high technical
Affirms conventional norms of what constitutes intelligibility in music
while appearing novel and original
Differences between 'serious' and 'popular' music in responses
encouraged/demands made upon listener
To understand a piece of serious music one must experience the whole of
The whole has little influence on reception and reaction to parts - stronger
reactions to part than whole
The whole has strong impact on reaction to details
The music is standardized into easily recognizable types, wholes are pre-accepted/known
prior to reception
Themes and details can only be comprehended in the context of the whole
Little effort is required to follow music – audience already has models
under which musical experiences can be subsumed
The sense of the music cannot be grasped by recognition alone, i.e. by identifying
music with another ‘identical' piece
Little emphasis on the whole as musical event – what matters is style, rhythm
(the movement of the foot on the floor)
Effort and concentration are required to follow music
Leads back to familiar experiences (themes and details can be understood
out of context because listener can automatically supply framework)
Its aesthetic disrupts the continuum of everyday life and encourages recollection
A sense of the music is grasped by recognition – leading to acceptance
Pleasure, fun gained through listening are ‘transferred' to the musical object, which becomes invested with qualities that stem from mechanism of identification
The most successful, best music is identified with the most often repeated
Music has soporific effect on social consciousness
It reinforces a sense of continuity in everyday living – while its reified structure reinforces forgetfulness
Renders ‘unnecessary the process of thinking'
Appendix III: Classical Music as Crime Prevention
Delmar, Calif., Aug. 1, PRNewswire
The music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven has been played continuously in a dangerous Florida neighborhood since early April. According to the Associated Press, its effects on reported crime appear both positive and dramatic. The article continued to site a number of encouraging statistics, including a 75% drop in drug-related complaints in a four month period, which local officials attribute to the compositions of the early masters.
In response, Genius Products, Inc., producers of the Baby Genius CD's and videos, will provide 1000 free copies of its popular Baby Genius CD Sampler to police departments nationwide, for the purposes of further utilization of classical music in fighting crime and reducing stress.
1. Although this essay focuses primarily upon music (as that is the art with which I happen to be most familiar), most of what is said will apply mutatis mutandis to the other arts as well.
2. Herbert J. Gans, Popular Culture and High Culture (New York: Basic Books, 1999), p. 56f.
3. From the school's web page: www.wyomingseminary.org
4. Edward Lippman, The Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 56.
5. Gans, p. 65.
6. Words associated with elevation (e.g., "high" art, "lowbrow") are common in this context. Consider "sublime" (from the Latin sublimis, "elevated") and "profound" (from Latin, profundus, literally "bottom forward" or "downward").
7. Cf. Plato: "if a man . . . grants the mob authority over himself more than is unavoidable, the proverbial necessity of Diomedes will compel him to give the public what it likes, but that what it likes is really good and honorable, have you ever heard an attempted proof of this that is not simply ridiculous?" (Republic, 493d)
8. Gans, p. 166.
9. Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987), p.79.
10. For a history of classical and popular music in America, see H. Wiley Hitchcock, Music in the United States: A Historical Introduction (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1969).
11. Democracy in America (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000), p. 43. "American popular culture . . . has been driven by a single overriding purpose: to entertain. For this reason, economies of scale aside, it is easy to see why American goods have outdone the competition - British goods were developed in large part for high-culture elevation, Soviet goods for didactic purposes." Todd Gitlin in "The Bright Side of Popular Culture," in David Bender and Bruno Leone, eds., American Values (San Diego: Greenhaven, 1995), p. 164.
12. See W. Ray Crozier, "Music and Social Influence," in The Social Psychology of Music, ed. by David J. Hargreaves and Adrian C. North (Oxford UP, 1997).
13. Other meanings include noble, fine, beautiful, honorable. It seems to me that the best translation of kalos is "admirable" (i.e., worthy of admiration), as it can refer either to artifacts, actions or moral character (êthos).
14. That the arts can produce a harmonious self is an idea not confined to antiquity. For John Dewey: "The various fine arts, architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and poetry, are the successive attempts of the mind adequately to express its own ideal nature, or, more correctly stated, adequately to produce that which will satisfy its own demands for and love of a perfectly harmonious nature, something in which admiration may rest." "Psychology," in The Early Works of John Dewey (Carbondale: S. Illinois Press, 1967), p. 274. Ezra Pound said of music that its magic "is in its effect on volition. A sudden clearing of the mind of rubbish and the re-establishment of a sense of proportion." In The Sayings of Ezra Pound (London: Duckworth, 1994), p. 40.
15. "So advantageous is practice to the discernment of beauty, that, before we can give a judgment on any work of importance, it will even be requisite, that that very individual be more than once perused by us, and be surveyed in different lights with attention and deliberation." David Hume, "Of the Standard of Taste," in Alex Neill, ed., The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1995), p. 262. "No creature whatsoever is born with that intelligence, or all that intelligence, which characterizes it in its maturity." (Plato, Laws 672c)
16. "since it is the case that music is one of the things that give pleasure, and virtue has to do with feeling delight and love and hatred rightly, there is obviously nothing that it is more needful to learn and become habituated to than to judge correctly and to delight in virtuous characters and noble actions; but rhythms and melodies contain representations of anger and mildness, and also of courage and temperance and all their opposites and other moral qualities, that most closely correspond to the true natures of these qualities, and this is clear from the facts of what occurs; when we listen to such representations we change in our soul." (Aristotle, Politics 1340a15). Cf Plato: "all music is an art of producing likenesses or representations." (Laws, 668a).
17. Edward Lippman, A History of Western Musical Aesthetics (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), p. 15.
18. Democracy in America, chapt. XIII.
19. "A change to a new type of music is something to beware of as a hazard to all our fortunes. For the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions, as Damon affirms and as I am convinced" (Republic, 424b). A nearly identical view was held by Confucius: "As the sound of music is calm, the heart of the listener becomes peaceful, and as the words of the music are good, those who sing them will admire them. The result will be that customs are transformed and mores are changed." Chou Tun-yi, in A Sourcebook of Chinese Philosophy, ed. Wing-tsit Chan (Princeton UP, 1963), p. 473.
20. I have provided transliterations of harmonia and rhythmia in order that the reader might avoid too facile an interpretation. Rhythmia connotes measure, proportion or symmetry of parts (Laws 665a; 670b; 672e; 728e; Republic 397b; 298a). The term harmonia has both musical and metaphysical connotations. In a musical context, it refers to the stringing of an instrument or a musical mode (Plato, Republic 424b-c). In a metaphysical context, it refers to concord within a person (Plato, Timaeus 47d), a fitting-together of elements.
21. The Greek modes approximate what we refer to as keys. Specific characters and emotions were associated with specific modes. See Andrew Barker, ed., Greek Musical Writings. Volume I: The Musician and His Art (Cambridge UP, 1984). Such associations exist in modern music as well. Bach usually employed the key of B minor for tragic themes (as in the B Minor Mass), and Beethoven employed E flat major for heroic works, such as the Eroica Symphony and Emperor Concerto.
22. "tradition reports that Pythagoras declared the soul to be, or to contain, a harmony -- or rather a harmonia. For in Greek the word harmonia does not mean 'harmony', if 'harmony' conveys to us the concord of several sounds. The Greeks called that symphonia. Harmonia meant originally the orderly adjustment of parts in a complex fabric; then, in particular, the tuning of a musical instrument; and finally the musical scale, composed of several notes yielded by the tuned strings. What we call the modes would be to the Greek harmoniai.
"That the soul should be harmonized meant not only that its several parts should be in tune with one another, but, as one instrument in the orchestra must be in tune with all the rest, so the soul must reproduce the harmony of the cosmos." F.M. Cornford, "The Harmony of the Spheres," in The Unwritten Philosophy and Other Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1967), p. 19f.
23. Scientific studies have demonstrated that music is capable of boosting immunity, relieving pain and enhancing mental functions. See, e.g., Janine S. Pouliot, "The Power of Music," World and I (May, 1998) and Norman M. Weinberger, "Brain, Behavior, Biology, and Music: Some Research Findings and Their Implications for Educational Policy," Arts Education Policy Review (1998).
24. John Dewey, Art as Experience (NY: Capricorn, 1958), p. 237.
25. A Phrygian composer of the seventh century, B.C.
26. John Dewey, Art as Experience (NY: Capricorn, 1958), p. 236.
27. "some musical modes make men sad and grave, like the so-called Mixolydian, others enfeeble the mind, like the relaxed modes; another, again, produces a moderate and settled temper, which appears to be the peculiar effect of the Dorian; the Phrygian inspires enthusiasm." (Aristotle, Politics 1340b1)
28. Kathleen Higgins, The Music of Our Lives (Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1991), p. 5.
29. Higgins, p. 160.
30. In its earliest days, rock and roll was compared to fever and illness. The term itself originally referred to sexual intercourse. See Peter Wicke, Rock Music: Culture, Aesthetics and Sociology, tr. Rachel Fogg (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987), p. 3.
31. Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good (London: Ark, 1970), p. 112.
32. "the educated made it their rule to hear the performances through in silence, and for the boys, their attendants, and the rabble at large, there was the discipline of the official's rod to enforce order." Plato, Laws 700a-700d.
33. Steven Best and Douglas Kellner,"Rap, Black Rage, and Racial Difference." Enculturation, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 1999.
34. See Steve Berg, "Pistol-packing Youth Challenge a Nation's Civility, Feed Gun Debate," Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), January 30, 1994.
35. From the National Association for Music Education web site, www.menc.org. Such findings do not establish a causal relationship, since it may be, e.g., that brighter students are more commonly attracted to such studies, or that wealthier children are more often sent both to better schools and to music lessons.
36. August 6, 2000.
37. The Austrian-Jewish pianist, Artur Schnabel, was born in Lipnik, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1882. He is widely regarded as the definitive interpreter of Beethoven's piano works. The honors that were bestowed on Schnabel included an honorary title of Professor of Music by the Prussian State in 1919 and an Honorary Doctor of Music from the University of Manchester, England, in 1933. He was also renowned as a pedagogue, composed a number of works and authored a number of books, including an autobiography entitled My Life and Music. He died at Lake Lucerne, Switzerland in 1951.
38. "The cause of a wrong taste is a defect of judgment. And this may arise from a natural weakness of understanding . . . or, which is much more commonly the case, it may arise from a want of proper and well-directed exercise, which alone can make it strong and ready. Besides that ignorance, inattention, prejudice, rashness, levity, obstinacy, in short, all those passions, and all those vices which pervert the judgment in other matters, prejudice it no less in this its more refined and elegant province." Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful (London: Penguin, 1998), p. 75.
39. John Dewey, "The Aesthetic Element in Education," Addresses and Proceedings of the National Education Association (1897), p.329.
40."Aesthetic perception has to do with the special ‘ability to notice or discern things,'
distinct as a perceptual mode from observation. Just as observation is under certain controls, so aesthetic perception
involves certain independent standards in terms of which one looks ‘revealingly' at things, prehends aspects that
‘animate' them, and enters into a special kind of intimacy with them: the intimacy of contemplative delight. .
"Culture as aesthetic experience is a matter of aesthetically educated perception by means of which it is possible to discriminate between good and bad. It means a particular kind of perceptual sophistication, involving the recognition that there are good reasons for seeing something as a work of art that are based on an appeal to independent criteria. . . . Aesthetic perception is a matter of learning to see what is relevant to critical aesthetic judgment." K. Dyson, "On Being Passionate about Standards: Promoting the Voice of Aesthetics in Broadcasting and Multimedia" in Culture First!, (NY: Cassel, 1996), pp. 131.
42. The Sovereignty of Good (London: Ark, 1970), p. 64.
43. Harmonics. Translated and edited by Henry S. Macran (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902), p. 189.
44. Cook, p. 1
45. "Prejudice against analysis, a judgment that transforming immediate impressions into reflected impressions represents impoverishment and exploitation, might be countered by pointing out that the prejudice itself depends on reflection. Original intuition knows nothing about itself." Carl Dahlhaus, Esthetics of Music (Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 5.
46. The German-Jewish philosopher Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was born in 1903. He attended the University of Frankfurt where he studied philosophy, sociology, psychology, and music. He received a doctorate in philosophy in 1924. In 1925, Adorno went to Vienna to study composition under Alban Berg, and began to publish articles on music, especially on the work of Schönberg. In 1938, Adorno joined the Institute for Social Research (then located in New York) and worked on the Princeton Radio Research Project, headed by Paul Lazarsfeld.
47. This typology can be found in Theodor Adorno, Introduction to the Sociology of Music, tr. E.B. Ashton (NY: Seabury, 1976), p. 4-16, passim.
49. Roger Scruton, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine Press, 2000), p. 106. See also Tom Schactman, The Inarticulate Society (NY: Free Press, 1995) and Mark Crispin Miller, The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder (NY: W.W. Norton, 2001).
50. Neil Postman, "Teaching as an Amusing Activity," in Amusing Ourselves to Death (NY: Viking, 1984), 142-54.
51. Aristotle wrote
that "One must not make amusement the object of the education of the young; for amusement does not go with
learning – learning is a painful process" (Politics 1339a18).
Aristides Quintilianus writes: "those who study music find their recreation in the work itself, which brings
no less joy to the spirit than profit to the mind. Most people give this fact no weight, preferring the pleasure
which comes from idleness and ignorance to that which accompanies reason and brings benefit." Treatise on Music (http://www.richmond.edu/~wstevens/grvaltexts/
aristidesq.html, ch. 2)
52. Charles Rosen, "Classical Music in Twilight." Harper's Magazine (March, 1998).
53. Theodor Adorno, "On Popular Music," http://www2.rz.hu-berlin.de/fpm/texte/adorno.htm §31-32.
54. Esthetics of Music (Cambridge U. Press, 1982), p. 90.
55. Robert Pattison, The Triumph of Vulgarity: Rock Music in the Mirror of Romanticism (New York: Oxford UP, 1987), p. 7.
56. J.W.N. Sullivan, Beethoven: His Spiritual Development (NY: Vintage Books 1960), p. 15 ff.
59. Both Bach and Beethoven were masterful in their ability to derive many interesting variations from a seemingly banal theme, as in their Goldberg and Diabelli variations, respectively.
60. Although some people question whether youth are influenced by the media, it seems incredible that many hundreds of hours of TV, music and movies would have no influence on youth when corporate America spends billions of dollars on advertising, based on the assumption that a thirty second spot will influence adult behavior.
61. Whereas the law in a liberal democracy seeks only to insure domestic tranquility while maximizing the range of individual freedoms (leading to a tendency to regard freedom as an end in itself), morality, by contrast, seeks excellence as dictated by standards of the common good.
62. "What if a man has no contact with the Muse in any way? Is not the result that his soul becomes feeble, deaf, and blind, because it is not aroused or fed, nor are its perceptions purified and quickened? And such a man becomes a misologist and a stranger to the Muses.He no longer makes any use of persuasion by speech, but achieves all his ends like a beast, by violence and savagery, and in his brute ignorance and ineptitude lives a life of disharmony and gracelessness" (Plato, Republic 411d-e).
Both Greek and German have words which associate education with the formation of character, especially in its moral dimension: paideia and Bildung, respectively. "This sort of learning that you ... had from your language master, your harp teacher, and your sports instructors; for when you took your lessons from each of these it was not in the technical way, with a view to becoming a craftsman, but for education, as befits a private gentleman." (Plato, Protagoras 312b)
63. On the Aesthetic Education of Man, trans. Reginald Snell (NY: Ungar, 1954), p. 138.
64. The distinction between junk food and nutritious food parallels in many respects the distinction Plato makes in the Gorgias between knacks and crafts. Knacks are forms of flattery which aim at pleasure and the appearance or sense of well-being, without regard for what is by nature (i.e., in truth) beneficial for one's moral character. And this is connected to the difference between epithumia and boulesis, between what I desire and what I will.
65. Gans, p. 164.
66. Theodor Adorno, Introduction to the Sociology of Music, tr. E.B. Ashton (New York: Seabury, 1976), p.5.
67. David Held, Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas (Berkeley: U. of California, 1980), pp. 101,103.