Music as art:-)

by robotklauw

Is (Western) music art? The debate has raged for decades and I’ll throw some more fuel on the fire.

No, (Western) music is not art. That is, what is seen to be music in the classical sense: performed by acoustic instruments or the human voice. Also, music that is made with a commercial motivation is not art, though the lines are blurry.

Both are not art in the Experimentalist sense.

Music used to be about timbre, rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, and form. All because instruments were acoustic. With the rise of electrified instruments these traits began to become more and more archaic. With electronic means, music can be made which rises above these traits.

There is a second argument here. Until recently – until recording apparatuses were invented – music  relied on live performances. Nowadays music is in the private domain, via your earphones. There is a world of difference between the acoustic and the amplified music. Sadly, most music performers grew up in the Western tradition of live performance and in the belief that acoustic is somehow ‘better’ than electric and electronic music. ‘Unplugged’ and similar programs worldwide had quite the following. This angst for electricity was ridiculous, as the co called acoustic sound was amplified in the studio and send to our TVs and radios by the magic of electromagnetic waves.

Too many musicians are trained within the Western music tradition. They want to perform their music, they want to learn how to play their instrument. Experimentalism encourages that musicians are mostly self-taught. In due time the longing for fame, money, showing of your guitar skills may vanish and artful and creative music will thrive.

Electronic music can incorperate both traditional sounds as well as complete new sounds, unrecognizable. It can incorporate these sounds and can create new rhythms, new harmony, new forms, such as acoustic and traditional instruments can never achieve, because of their limitations.

Joanna Demers in her excellent work on the aesthetics of experimental electronic music sums it up:

Unlike nonelectronic music, electronic music can transcend timbral limitations and just about every other existential limitation of traditional musical discourse. Electronic music can incorporate sounds of the outside world with ease and can generate new timbres that defy identification as music (or anything else).

Joanna Demers, Listening through the noise: The aesthetics of experimental electronic music, 2010 Oxford University Press, New York, p. 23.