Music Aesthetics

Throughout the years questions have risen, such as, what makes music? Why is it important to life and Society? Many philosophers, researchers, music historians have tried to answer this question too little or no avail. These questions have been asked many times throughout the history of music. Many musicologists such as Schreibe and Matterson believe that music comes from the theory of emoting. This theory proposes that a melodic line or the words to a song can cause in the listener a particular emotion. This means that not only could the music invoke an overall emotion for the audience, but also a personal emotion to each individual audience member.

We can see this take place through program music, although this type of music the composer has a literal meaning or feeling for the audience each member of the audience can interpret at their own separate way while still holding true to the vision of the composer. Such is the case with Hector Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique, and his “ghostly” imagery given in the 4th movement of the symphony.

This of course leads to the question of Aesthetics and for music that does not draw a definite emotion from an audience member. Such is the music of Arnold Schoenberg, or John Cage. When these composers are brought into question on what is music, they are not necessarily well received due to their “experimental” composing styles. With Schoenberg introducing 12-tone serialism and John Cage utilizing new ways to create music, many music enthusiasts find it hard to label their works as music in comparison to the works of Mozart or Beethoven. Many of these music enthusiasts are highly critical of 20th century composers and their works even though they attempt to find a new and unique style for what we call music. As music changes our preferred “aesthetic” must change with them or we could possibly discourage further composers from being great.

-John Guevara

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