Originally posted by tomasino:
Is dissonance resolving to consonance a â€œnaturalâ€ phonomenon, or is it an acculturated acquisition? Would it be possible to acculturate a child to hear consonance as a bitter, unpleasant, nasty sound . . . a sound that wants to resolve to a restful, peaceful, dissonance?
How we hear dissonance and consonance is not all acculturation, as there is a difference. Harmonies are not equivalent neutral sounds. There is a scientific explanation for dissonance and consonance with which Iâ€™m sure many of us are familiar. It has to do with the ratio of vibrations per second when two pitches are simultaneously sounded, and the resultant moire patterns, which we hear as the â€œbeatsâ€ the piano tuner employs. The more beats per second, the more dissonant the sound.
But this still doesnâ€™t address the question of dissonance resolving to consonance as a â€œnaturalâ€ phonomenon, or an acculturated acquisiton. Personally, Iâ€™m willing to entertain the rather far out notion that a child could be acculturated to hear consonance resolving to dissonance . . .
. . . but I highly doubt it. Iâ€™m fairly convinced, and all the evidence Iâ€™ve seen throughout my life points to this, that dissonance resolving to consonance is in the â€œnaturalâ€ order of things.
If we accept dissonance resolving to consonance as being â€œnatural,â€ than we can say that there is a natural basis to the triadic harmony of the classical music tradition.
And further, we can say that the dodecaphonics are employing a totally artificial system which has no basis whatsoever in nature. This is not to find fault, and makes it neither good nor bad. Sort of like when Lenin attempted to impose an artificial system on Russia and all of eastern Europe.
You pose some very interesting questions that I've certainly thought about before, and up until your last paragraph, you actually managed to avoid sounding prejudiced, ignorant, and narrow-minded. It's obvious you already have your mind made up, and I'm certainly not prepared to change a 60 year old man's opinion. You've had these rather commonplace, misguided, superficial notions about atonal music for your entrie life, and at this point I'm not really concerned with trying to persuade you to reconsider your rather archaic opninons. Luckily, other people read this board too.
The fact is, we don't know whether or not a child could be accultured to find consonances resolving to dissonances aesthetically pleasing or to prefer atonal music over tonal music. I'm fairly confident it could be done in individual cases, and I've heard anecdotes which I'm not sure are actually true that do in fact provide examples of this happening (I heard a story once that Nicolas Slonimsky had a daughter whom he raised to only listen to serialist music, and when she first heard tonal music in her teens, it sounded foreign and revolting...again, I can't prove this and I'm not sure of its validity). Regardless, I think the more pressing question for you is whether or not this could be done on a large scale. I would say, probably so, but 1) it likely will never be attempted and 2) who cares anyway.
I think people often approach the nature vs. nurture debate from too extreme an angle. They tend to think every characteristic humans have is either 100% innate or 100% conditioned. This is certainly not true, and in fact, I would go as far to say that almost NOTHING is completely one or the other. For example, lots of people are born with more of a capacity to be intelligent, but are never taught or challenged to reach their potential. Others are born less priveledged, but work to develop strengths and overcome their weaknesses. In the same way there are probably lots of people out their had greater capacities to become piano virtuosos than Horowitz or Rubinstein, but never touched a piano in their lives. At the same time, there are lots of people who weren't born with as much natural talent as certain people and yet became even better, more successful pianists.
I think the same is true of a person's innate sense of harmony. 'Innate' tendencies are affected by plenty of 'conditioned' thinking and acting, consequently blurring what is and what isn't INNATE. Therefore, I might be born to like tonal music, but grow to dislike it when I'm older.
Also, people's taste have evolved over the last few centuries so that the average person's innate tastes and predispositions today are different than they were back then. I'm fairly certain that a person born in America today is innately more predisposed to find traditional Western tonality more pleasing than a person born in medieval France in 1156 A.D. At the same time I bet that a person born in America today is less predisposed to traditional Western tonality than somebody born in Vienna in 1803. My point is that what is "innate" or "natural" is constantly shifting from person to person, and from generation to generation, so it's hard to make overarching claims about what is in fact natural.
But let us think for a moment.
Now let's say that we did in fact have INDISPUTABLE evidence that in fact traditional classical, I-V-I, western harmony centered is innate and everyone who has ever been born has been born with very similar predispositions and inclinations to find only these flavors of harmony pleasing at first hearing. WHO CARES!
I repeat: WHO CARES? WHO CARES? WHO CARES?
THAT IS AN IRRELEVANT PIECE OF INFORMATION!
Just because something is innate, doesn't mean it's correct. Just because something is natural, doesn't mean it's right. Just because we give certain predisposed human characteristics value, doesn't mean that every characteristic that relies more on conditioning can't have value. That's right, I'm saying the same thing over and over again, so maybe people will start to get it.
Besides, that whole "natural argument," and yes, you're making that often oversimplified, hackneyed "natural argument," can work both ways. Just as we are innately predisposed to certain tendencies and attributess, we are also innately predisposed to develop tendencies and attributes that AREN'T inherent. For example, it is in our innate capacity to LEARN, to develop TASTES, to CREATE. Now we have created certain restrictions on how we can act with what we learn and what we are allowed to create, in order to maintain a functioning society...
Here's the biggie though:
MUSIC IS NOT SOCIETY. MUSIC IS FREEDOM WITHOUT RESTRICTION. MUSIC IS NOT CAPITALISM. MUSIC IS NOT COMMUNISM. MUSIC IS ART.
We have the "innate capacity" to create art, and some would say that it is our most cherished quality.
STOP PUTTING RESTRICTIONS ON ART! ART IS NOT SOCIETY!
We also have the innate ability to make value judgements. Value judgements are rooted on that wonderful construction called "reason." Now value judgements can be both constructive and destructive. Sometimes value judgements in politics can be very destructive, and it is sometimes very necessary and meaningful to have negative value judgements, like "War is bad."
So again I repeat: MUSIC IS NOT POLITICS.
Music is inherently subjective, it is based on pure abstraction. Sure, these frequencies may have been around since the beginning of the universe, but the way we put them together HAS NOT. Having said that, we also create edifices and institutions which support certain kinds of music which carry the implication that certain sounds are better than other sounds. In this way negative value judgements can be constructive in creating a common musical discourse in which we can speak intelligently and critically about the process of composing and performing certain kinds of music. But we must all remember that we have created these musical statutes, but they are not universal, and they are constantly subject to change.
Now Tomasino, you are trying to apply your negative value judgements (that's fine) to music in a DESTRUCTIVE MANNER. Now there is absolutely NO PLACE IN MUSIC to make destructive claims, especially when they are based on a very weak logical foundation. These are the kind of claim that say "this music doesn't sound good because of reason X for which I have no evidence, THEREFORE this music is HARMFUL TO OUR MUSICAL TRADITION." ICK! AGHHH! WRONG! NOOOOOO! BAD!!!!!!!
I know that now you're going to point to this statement:
"This is not to find fault, and makes it neither good nor bad. Sort of like when Lenin attempted to impose an artificial system on Russia and all of eastern Europe."
But I know what you are trying to imply here, because I read your other post on the "common distaste for Schoenberg." You're trying to say Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School are responsible for the downfall of western classial music, and THAT, my friend, is simply MISGUIDED, DESTRUCTIVE, and HYPOCRITCAL for all the reasons for which I have already written at length in these two threads.
Now please, be a MAN, and face up to this criticism, and don't try to cop out by just referring to other irrelevant entries that you have already posted on this site which only repeat the same inflammatory mumbo-jumbo you've been spouting all along.
As for the rest of you, I realize my posts are long, but I get the feeling nobody (with the exception of a few) is actually reading them in order to come up with potentally valuable rebuttals. Please, we will all benefit if I get real, intelligent, logical responses that face up to my arguments.