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Brother Randy Hickey
21-07-2010, 09:02 AM
excuse the preamble:

my best friend is an english teacher out in Singapore who's introducing a basic Theory of Knowledge unit for certain GCSE-equivalent students. They're covering all the basics in that regard but his main push is regarding aesthetics, which he feels is taught as being "softer" than proper sciences when it comes to TOK. So he's trying to engage the kids in these "what is art?" basics and traditionally it seems to be done with visual art (y'know, here's an early Picasso which is a beautiful reproduction, now here's a late Picasso which looks primitive, what's going on here kinda thing?). But most kids of the age he's teaching don't give a damn about visual art and instead are music-fixated.

So yesterday we had a drunken discussion about how he might tackle the "what is music" issue, and he's looking for some useful, illuminating pieces - not TOO odd, these are fairly young kids - to get them thinking.

I suggested he use a field recording of, say, a waterfall or similar. then play something like Nurse With Wound's Salt Marie Celeste, which is almost a "fictional field recording", in a sense. Then ask if the kids consider it music, and if not, why not? and move further in towards what's conventionally considered music and get them to examine their assumptions...

SO (hungover preamble over). Recommendations wanted for interesting, ideally fun, pieces that would challenge kids' notions of what music is or isn't that he can use as a tool in his lessons?

don_quixote
21-07-2010, 10:47 AM
the 'not too odd' bit is holding me back here!

fairly obvious extremities like:
4'33"
metal machine music

i would play 10 pieces that have been accused of being "not music" (like the above) and get the kids to decide and debate where the boundary lies.

here's a fun place to start: http://www.av1611.org/cqguide.html :eek:

scroll down to "what is rock music?"

don_quixote
21-07-2010, 10:58 AM
and how about this:
http://open.spotify.com/track/15ktJgdBDaGCoxG815tIvy

if you don't have spotify it's a telephone ringing

Brother Randy Hickey
21-07-2010, 11:03 AM
cheers - he's trying some Cge already but I will suggest the MMM. and that Christian music site is great, thanks :)

Dunninger
21-07-2010, 12:18 PM
Maybe some early electronic music and musique concrete, for example Vareses "Poeme Electronique" or "Etudes aux chemin de fer" by Pierre Schaeffer. They use "non-musical" sounds but are quite obviously composed.

Brother Randy Hickey
21-07-2010, 12:52 PM
yeh, i think that'd be good. And maybe some beatboxing followed by the teacher himself making some random mumbling noises. One is "music", one, allegedly, isn't...

mixed_biscuits
21-07-2010, 12:55 PM
Maybe he could use a sound editing prog gradually to alter a piece of music to the point at which it becomes something other.

Mr. Tea
21-07-2010, 01:33 PM
Maybe he could use a sound editing prog gradually to alter a piece of music to the point at which it becomes something other.

...or start with some psytrance and gradually distort and corrupt it to see if at any point it begins to resemble music?

don_quixote
21-07-2010, 01:49 PM
...or start with some psytrance and gradually distort and corrupt it to see if at any point it begins to resemble music?

don't be ridiculous ;)

STN
21-07-2010, 01:52 PM
how about Machine Gun by Peter Brotzmann tentet? It's very full on but is an interesting example because 'real' instruments are being played proficiently, but it sounds like an unholy bloody racket.

Brother Randy Hickey
21-07-2010, 01:56 PM
...or start with some psytrance and gradually distort and corrupt it to see if at any point it begins to resemble music?

that defies all known laws of the universe.

mixed_biscuits
21-07-2010, 02:14 PM
...or start with some psytrance and gradually distort and corrupt it to see if at any point it begins to resemble music?

lol

nochexxx
21-07-2010, 04:09 PM
not sure if i'm on the right track but i immediately though of these records.

reynols - blank tapes

john oswald - plunderphonics 69/96

komar & melamid and david soldier - the most unwanted music

chris watson's stuff

Mr. Tea
21-07-2010, 05:39 PM
Just play them Throbbing Gristle's Hamburger Lady until they're all in tears or have left the classroom.

That'll teach them...I dunno, something. Good for a laugh, anyway.

zhao
22-07-2010, 07:25 PM
also play music from the past which were considered "not music" when they first appeared:

Eric Satie
Louis Armstrong
Stravinsky
Chuck Berry
etc, etc.

and tell historical anecdotes/stories that go along with each.

dave quam
22-07-2010, 08:28 PM
I think stuff like sound art, sound installations, and field recordings aren't music, but things like euro improv, electro-acoustic improv, Twin Infinitives, noise, ect are all totally music.

Sick Boy
22-07-2010, 08:39 PM
Noise is a difficult one to classify since a lot of noise artists themselves insist that what they are doing isn't music. If you want to seperate sound art and music from each other, it becomes very difficult to define noise. Not only because noise obviously employs "non-musical" sounds, but also because it often has a lack of composition (i.e. it is improvised). Of course then, you find yourself in the sticky position of deciding whether music is defined by the sounds it uses, or how it uses the sounds. Consider, for example, that the use of feedback from a guitar (an improvised "non-musical" sound) has become par for the course in modern rock music.

This probably makes it good material for your friend's class!

Martin Dust
22-07-2010, 08:45 PM
I'd sort into groups and get the kids to make their own versions and the talk about why because there is no true answer to what you're asking if you consider making any kind of music an art.

Sick Boy
22-07-2010, 09:06 PM
I'd also say the reasons behind why people feel so compelled to have these kinds of semantic arguments is as interesting, if not more interesting, than the original question itself.

UFO over easy
22-07-2010, 09:14 PM
maybe couple of examples of pieces which ostensibly sound very musical in terms of rhythm/harmony etc, but made without traditional musical equipment. music for pieces of wood by steve reich, john bakers christmas jingle for radiophonic workshop - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIgdwPc23Y5, one of the matmos plastic surgery tunes might get a good ewwww reaction

just to counterbalance the field recordings and stuff. from memory i don't think we were able to engage with stuff like that in school lessons but if contrasted with something equally interesting but musically more immediate maybe it could work better

Martin Dust
22-07-2010, 09:31 PM
I'd also say the reasons behind why only men feel so compelled to have these kinds of semantic arguments is as interesting, if not more interesting, than the original question itself to men only.

Corrected :)

Brother Randy Hickey
22-07-2010, 10:01 PM
all good stuff, a lot reflecting what came up in our drunken pub ranting. I think his hands are tied somewhat by his desire to make aesthetics seem less of a "soft option" in terms of rigour, the problem being that it kind of IS - to teach the course seems to involve claiming a degree of objectivity or rigour that doesn't really exist.

Mr. Tea
22-07-2010, 10:04 PM
Corrected :)

Well women are generally too busy thinking about babies or kittens to have much cerebral runtime left over to consider weighty intellectual matters like this.

dave quam
22-07-2010, 10:06 PM
as far as noise/experimental music vs sound art goes....

It's about the context for me. Sound art is passed off as well, art. The kind of stuff I'm talking about is like 4' 33", Alvin Lucier "I Am Sitting in a Room", a lot of Walter Marchetti stuff, ect. A lot of noise guys do claim their stuff is "anti-music" but even then I find a lot of it to be music in some sense. I don't believe there are any set lines, just like something like Twin Infinitives or noise rock ect straddles the fence. When it comes to things like sound installations, most field recordings and such, I don't believe those are music and are not trying to be as such. But when you have people playing together like Erstwhile records type stuff where people are interacting in that way, is totally music to me. Just how I feel really, but there was a great John Cage quote where he said something about how music in the future was just going to be noise that I love.

Richard Carnage
22-07-2010, 10:48 PM
How about Napalm Death's "You Suffer"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z1IGjr2cT0

I think it still holds the record for being the shortest song ever.

Sick Boy
23-07-2010, 02:18 PM
Well women are generally too busy thinking about babies or kittens to have much cerebral runtime left over to consider weighty intellectual matters like this.

And, of course, you have to consider that it was either the path I chose, or watching "Manswers"* on the Man Network and shotgunning beers and reminding myself of the ways that I'm not at all, in anyway, gay. IF ONLY THERE WAS AN OPTION C. :)

*(Manswers is, btw, a real show, and must be seen to be believed.)

MatthewH
25-07-2010, 12:30 AM
Has nobody mentioned "Music for airports" or ambient Eno in general yet? For shame.

A lot of people think of music as being inherently free of *function*. Us dance music types are usually free of that illusion, but it's worth taking that "functional music" thing to its furthest extent.

Granted, if it's kids, they'd only be able to listen for a minute or two - it's not exactly eventful music.

slowtrain
25-07-2010, 06:11 AM
how about Machine Gun by Peter Brotzmann tentet? It's very full on but is an interesting example because 'real' instruments are being played proficiently, but it sounds like an unholy bloody racket.

This is a good one, I think.


Also maybe Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, it's a 'traditional' orchestra, but sounds like nothing else, the score is really great as well.