My subwoofers are more like Arnold Schwarznegger.
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I'm having a hard time differentiating between essence and substance. If substance is the detail, extension and faithful reproduction of music -- I would go there. If essence is the overall character of the music without substance -- i.e., the emotion and dynamics of it even if the details are missing and it has lots of midrange colorations -- sorry but that's not for me. But frankly, I'm not sure essence is possible without some pretty good level of substance nor can high levels of substance exist without conveying some solid essence.
If my interpretations are wrong, then please correct me and I'll start over. But these are not mutually exclusive concepts -- as one improves, so does the other.
My system is a Hegelian dialectic between the subject, the listener and the object the audio system. The subject and object are mediated by the music reproduced by the system.The subject is also in an another dialectical process between the listener and the listener's historicity within society. And this is mediated by what you listen to. I will also pose an another dialectical consideration, that the subject and object will spiral in the dialectical process until only great music is listened to on a great system. A great Hegelian and Enlightened Utopia!
Ozfly, depends on the school of thought, but I believe substance is defined as the core and essence the extension of that core (mode). Substance is not subject to change while essence will depending on a number of extended attributes. As such, essence does not exist without substance. I guess in audio terms, substance would be the recording, it's essence (what we hear) being extended by (our equipments) applicable attributes. What does this all mean, I have no idea. Actually, an intersting side note, it was "audiophilism" that got me off the lost lands of philosophy. Or rather, it was philosophy that lead me here. Not sure if I'm better off, but I'm having a heck of a time.
Andy2, Descartes will set you free my man.
I would think Plutonians would emphasize more of an examination what is music through metaphysicals; whereas, Aristoleans would emphasize more on the equipment and measurements through the physicals. Also, the former would be "ever-evolving", and the latter would be in its final state. Neither would represent a school of thought of pure musical enjoyment as both "see" the music but not actually hearing it.
Subaruguru: Historicity is not in the sense of sucessive events through time. But rather as a means in which within a specific tradition (ie Romanticism) an occurrence of the qualitatively new transpires; it is not a movement through time in which there is mere identity or reproduction of what has always been, but rather one in which the new occurs (ie chromaticism of Wagner or Mahler). Of course this is mediated by its opposite, the term "nature", which is being or "sein" as predetermined, in "essence" it is the "substance" within history. It is static, timeless and unchanging. However after reading the works of Adorno, the triple threat of musicologist, dialectical philosopher, and marxist sociologist, Nature or "natural" is not static or timeless as mediated through its opposite, history. If you take one of Adorno's pet topics: musical materials, and using his dialectical process you see that nature is nothing more than myth. If you take something that is "natural" within music say, tonality, one can dialectically say that it is myth, because historicity changed tonal systems because chromaticism changed it, serialism changed it, and atonality changed it, polystylism changed it. The tonal system is still here, it is used in the music culture industry(ie the inclusive term of popular music) but has lost its truth content, maybe 100 years ago. No contemporary classical composer worth his salt would ever use the tonal system other than as kitsch. As a pianist, you know one true and tried method of expression, is the use of the augmented or the diminished seventh as used by Beethoven. But by the middle of the century, no composer would ever dare use the seventh again because its truth content was musically nontruth. You could use this nontruth in a kitsch sort of way, like Schnittke, as a wink and a nod, or as satire or irony, but as an expressive musical material, as an "object in its self" it is relegated to the dust bin of music.
Viggen: It is the German philosophers like Kant, and Hegel in their Idealist philosophy who decribe nature as timeless. Adorno, who is not a true Hegelian dialectic philosopher, but a dialectical Marxist. It is Adorno, through Benjamin through Marx through Hegel, that the dialectical process produces nature as myth as history. Adorno states " the retransformation of the historical, as that which has been, into nature, then here is the other side of the phenomenon:nature itself is seen as transitory nature, as history." Thus as seen through Adorno's analysis, nature and its form, its content, its objectivity are all socially conditioned. It is reified history. A way of understanding nature and history is through the dialectic process of art and artworks. Art acts as a cipher of the historical process within society mediated through the myths society has created. Art as cipher needs to be deciphered, and what art says about us individually and collectively is the key. Art is not conceptually utopian but a mimetic of the individual and the collective that needs to be deciphered. Adorno writes," there is no longer beauty or consolation except in the gaze falling on horror, withstanding it, and in unalleviated consciousness of negativity holding fast to the possibilty of what is better." Adorno, a Jew was expelled from his position at Frankfurt University in 1933 , asks can art say anything after Auschwitz? The Enlightenment, perhaps man's greatest achievement, brought us both Beethoven and Hitler.
I've not heard of Adorno, however, I get what you are saying in regards to art being the cipher between the person and the temporal. However, just a matter of semantics, I rather see the examination of how the person deciphers art rather than how art deciphers the person as the key to understanding "history." Cuz, as you said, nature/history is a myth. But, and here is my assertion, human nature remains static.
Viggen: Dialectics would state that it is a two way street, art comes to you as much as you come to art in a mediated manner. When I am in that "zone", say, listening to Schubert's last string quartet, I can sense the musical forms engulfing me, the particulars ( first theme, second theme, exposition, recap. etc), and the whole, the sonata form that add up the particulars and build upon each other, collide with each other, and cancel each other. Then you might, just might, maybe a little understand the universal that Schubert is trying to express through his music. Hegel might say you have encountered the absolute geist(spirit). For me, ah, the old light bulb in the old brain lights up, and just smiles, a smile of understanding.
As for Theodor Adorno, his musical circle included, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Weill, Brecht, and Krenek. He studied composition with Berg. His doctorate adviser was the great theologian Paul Tillich. He worked with the fine sociologist Paul Lazarfield at Princeton while exiled in the US. Was the musical advisor and close friend to the eminent novelist Thomas Mann. Adorno is arguably a great thinker on aesthetics. If you write about aesthetics today, in some way you will come across the thoughts of Adorno.
His four great works are:
Dialectics of the Enlightment(with Max Horkheimer)
Philosophy of Modern Music
His collection of essays are incredibly numerous. The best for music is one edited by Richard Lennart, which you can usually find at Borders.
I would love to learn more about the theories of dialectics/aethetics. My self education of these probably stopped at around the 19th century. Thanks for the heads up. Rereading old reprints/reinterpreted books on epistomology and the like just doesn't do it for me anymore. Perhaps these will. I will "borrow" the books/essays you suggested next time I frequent Borders.