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  1. #101

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    About music as language... I always try to defferentiate that it is artistic language.

    Comparison with lingustic conventional languages is not quite correct. The correct one will be comparison with high literature.

    Jazz improvization is not similar to just talking spontaneously on some topic in some language, it is like improvizing a poem... a good poem... with reference to form and maybe to tradition... big differentce, right?


    Language is a derivative of thought, not thought itself; thought comes before and ultimately manifests in many final interpretive forms, only one of which is language.
    I would rather call it 'a meaning' - semantics... 'thought' is a bit derivative term itself...


    And of course music has semantics. This skit is partly built on semantics of European music that audience - even non-musical - clearly understands...
    I always give this video as representation of obvious semantics in music - not even what he says but how he plays - you can hear clearly how it all unfolds... what he says is not just nice romantic comparisons ....

    ''You need to dream this piece rather than play it''... and he clearly shows how music transcends the border betwenn reality and dream...



    first time I saw this video I almost could touch the music... it was even scary...
    Becasue it was not sounds, it was meanings expressed.





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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #102

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  4. #103

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    That's the first time I've enjoyed Schumann.

  5. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    That's the first time I've enjoyed Schumann.
    maybe this will be the second time?



  6. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    If you scroll up you may see the Edwin Gordon lecture I posted.

    His opening statement is 'music is not a language, but this is why I find it useful to think of it as one.' His thoughts are quite interesting. Not sure if I 100% agree with everything he says, but good food for thought.

    That's a great point about great musicians repeating themselves - that's very pertinent. I think we are in danger of taking to idealised an approach to art... Which to me is boring and arid.

    As a philosophical point the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (Linguistic relativism) is always interesting. You seem to be espousing the strong position, although that is rejected by most modern linguists AFAIK. So space squids probably couldn't make us perceive time non linearly.

    The Homeric 'wine dark sea' is a classic example - while I don't think the ancient Greeks perceived the sea as dark red, their lack of a word for blue created this (to us) rather odd descriptive device, and categorised dark colours as the same sort of thing in a way that is strange to a modern English speaker.

    I sometimes wonder of the language we use to talk about musical analysis doesn't have similar aspects to it. Some of the arguments here seem to suggest that to me.
    While this is well outside the discussion of
    'is learning music similar to learning French'
    I think it is , but hey


    re the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis ....
    that's never chimed true for me
    think of all that can be conveyed in non verbal ways
    Tons of stuff ... Through pictures , cartoons , paintings
    facial expression , dance , music etc etc

    perhaps the proponents of
    Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
    would say 'yes but these are all languages'

    in which case , for me it's just an argument over semantics
    and does not have much substance ....

    i remember reading Wittgenstein and being quite annoyed
    by him saying effectively
    'if you don't have a language , you can't think'

    That's got to be massive BS


  7. #106

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    The Homeric 'wine dark sea' is a classic example - while I don't think the ancient Greeks perceived the sea as dark red, their lack of a word for blue created this (to us) rather odd descriptive device, and categorised dark colours as the same sort of thing in a way that is strange to a modern English speaker.
    I do nto think it is the lack of word... by the way in Russian there are two words for waht in English is used just one 'blue'. I mean - common words in daily usage - (not some special words like indigo or ultramarine).

    For example Chealsea uniform would rather be called 'siniy' and Italian national team uniform is 'goluboy' though the difference is not that big really.

    Of course English speaking person will also define it as dark-blue or light-blue maybe in direct comparison - when he sees them both at the same time and asked to compare.

    But Russain would call this 'siniy' and that 'goluboy' even when he sees them separately.


    I think these things reflect some national cultural processes, importance of distinguishing some qualities in some period maybe.


    Until we percieve something it does not exist for us. I just think we do not see the same thing actually. And it is not only about nations. But about every person too.
    The things are what we call them.

  8. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu View Post

    i remember reading Wittgenstein and being quite annoyed
    by him saying effectively
    'if you don't have a language , you can't think'
    This is not something it is possible to determine either way, is it?

  9. #108

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    This is not something it is possible to determine either way, is it?
    i believe so , for example

    i saw a Felix the cat cartoon once where
    felix is watching a chef cooking a big fish
    he wants the fish ,
    he swaps the fish with a wooden model fish from a display case
    felix eats the fish and the chef goes red in the face
    trying to cook the wooden fish

    no words or captions
    but a story with motivations , feelings , humour etc

    seems easy to show that meaning can be conveyed without words
    maybe I'm not understanding the contention properly though

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu View Post
    i believe so , for example

    i saw a Felix the cat cartoon once where
    felix is watching a chef cooking a big fish
    he wants the fish ,
    he swaps the fish with a wooden model fish from a display case
    felix eats the fish and the chef goes red in the face
    trying to cook the wooden fish

    no words or captions
    but a story with motivations , feelings , humour etc

    seems easy to show that meaning can be conveyed without words
    maybe I'm not understanding the contention properly though
    You might think that though, but we can’t establish whether or not people can think without language because there’s no way of knowing, because those without language are unable to discuss their thoughts.

    It is likely language and abstract thought are deeply connected... but perhaps it is possible that one can exist without the other.

  11. #110

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    seems easy to show that meaning can be conveyed without words
    maybe I'm not understanding the contention properly though
    sure! words actually are bad medium... this is why great literature is really great... they overcome the lomited nature of conventional language.
    Octavio Paz said: 'The mechanism or poetry is in releasing the meaning of the word'
    Great writers have to work with garbage or words and make them express real beauty.

    People often do not hear music at all... sometimes I listen music with someone and I understand that what for me is full of complex multi-layered meanings, sophisticated passionate thelogical essay (like Bach), or a real novel with characters, story line (like late Romatic symphonies) for others often just more or less harmonious sounds (and they are happy if there are not too many dynamics changes!!)

    I like renaissance music... and I found out that many people like it becasue it is relaxing they treat like meditation nature sound... somtimes it is crazy (or funny?) becasue they actually use for that very dramatic music

    I think European musical language is generally built on a few elements:
    1) general harmonic turnarounds/cadences and their meanings within a form - how composer put them together, combine them
    2) recognizeable genres and style references - like using sarabande for death reference, or French horn signal for 'far call', of how Tchaikovsky used clarinet is definitely connected with Mozartian clarinets and creats a reference of warmth and childish feeling of home safety or C-minor is definitely referential in classical music and so on
    3) Not clearly musical references like letter- based motives or even quotes recognizeable by contemporary local audience, also textual references (which Bach used intensively for example... when the instrumental melodic line is similar with texts from other vocal works (or even harmonic turnarounds behind it)...

    With great composers all this works in a very sophisticated system - like with Bach or Mozart where these elements are intervened with combination of harmony, rythmic shifts, time, polyphony etc. etc. that allow them to make music as complex as human nature is and to express the most subtle feelings, doubts and thoughts, allows them to create life.


    But there are things that most people understand... this Rowan Atkinson sketch is partly bulit on these recognizeable things
    Check 02:28, it is the most idiomatic example!


  12. #111

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    You might think that though, but we can’t establish whether or not people can think without language because there’s no way of knowing, because those without language are unable to discuss their thoughts.

    It is likely language and abstract thought are deeply connected... but perhaps it is possible that one can exist without the other.
    we could design a test for this
    maybe by showing the mr bean
    movie or
    the felix cartoon to someone
    without language , then teaching them to speak ... a child maybe ?

    my contention is that they would
    understand the piece completely
    even without language ...

    i even believe dogs can think
    to a limited extent

    ”if i open this box , i can get to
    my food”
    ” if i hold my lead at the front door
    she will understand that i want to go out” etc etc

    ie they can and are thinking

    if language was a prerequisite for
    thought . how could we think in the
    abstract ?
    how could we think about music
    for example ?

    but it i admit , a proof is difficult

  13. #112

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    Sorry to derail ....
    the original question is interesting too ....

    i saw saw a Jim Mullen YouTube where he said
    learning was ....
    getting the time delay between hearing a thing
    and playing that thing ...
    down and down to as short as possible

  14. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    What tune, what happened? Were you able to solo anyway?
    Bons Amigos is the name of the tune. It's a bossa/ballad. It's slow and, while the changes are unconventional, they each take a few beats. So, for some of it, I had an impression of the melody and used it here and there to keep myself oriented. For the rest, I had to phrase so that I could wait to hear the next chord before playing on it. I got through it without any obvious clams.

  15. #114

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    "...because those without language are unable to discuss their thoughts."
    During a rehearsal my trio uses language to discuss thoughts. During performance we don't, we discuss our thoughts musically. Everyone can do this in real time whether the intent is to suggest a spontaneous drum solo, suggest continuing the tune another chorus, suggest a change in volume or mood, or even complex ideas like starting Ain't Misbehavin' with a rubato intro, playing Funny Valentine Latin style, or Killer Joe as a Bossa Nova.

    We don't even need language to call the tune; I might start by slowly playing through chords and melody lines that form a musically coherent but unknown song (because I'm making it up). After about 20 seconds I firm up, turn up, speed up, and the improvised songish thing gently blends, morphs, and becomes recognizable as one of our tunes and off we go. The bass and drums enjoy initiating songs themselves this way, too; so we don't all know what song we may be playing until we hear and catch on... it keeps us on our toes.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  16. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu View Post
    Sorry to derail ....
    the original question is interesting too ....

    i saw saw a Jim Mullen YouTube where he said
    learning was ....
    getting the time delay between hearing a thing
    and playing that thing ...
    down and down to as short as possible

    looks like John Berryman's poem... especially whe I read this " saw saw a Jim Mullen YouTube where he said
    learning was ...."

    and "down and down to as short as possible"

  17. #116

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    Since I studied linguistics in the eighties - "language" meant any kind of sign system at this point. This was of course influenced by Wittgenstein, but also by Saussure, Derrida, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis...

    It's not just verbal language. If we keep dicsussing this topis, I suggest to bear that in mind, or explicitly write "verbal language" to exclude other sign systems (of which music is one).

    I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that thought is possible without signs.

  18. #117
    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve View Post
    Since I studied linguistics in the eighties - "language" meant any kind of sign system at this point. This was of course influenced by Wittgenstein, but also by Saussure, Derrida, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis...
    As the person who started this thread in the first place, I am pleased that it has stimulated so much thoughtful dialog, but I think we are getting a bit far afield.

    My original point is consistent with music being a language with its own “grammar” etc, but, as in verbal conversation, that grammar must be internalized way before the real time usage of it in conversation (musical or verbal).

    When I speak (poorly) in French, I must hesitate, try to remember what the future perfect of “etre” (to be) is etc. This stops the flow of speech in its tracks, which wouldn’t happen in English for me. The same concept applies analogously for musical improv; you must have internalized the “grammar” way before performance time in order to react “in the moment” for example because the tune is unfolding, the drummer is keeping time, here comes the bridge, etc. You have to play by ear because you don’t have time to rummage in your mind for scales, chord substitutions, etc. At least that’s the ideal in my opinion.

  19. #118

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rsilver View Post
    As the person who started this thread in the first place, I am pleased that it has stimulated so much thoughtful dialog, but I think we are getting a bit far afield.

    My original point is consistent with music being a language with its own “grammar” etc, but, as in verbal conversation, that grammar must be internalized way before the real time usage of it in conversation (musical or verbal).

    When I speak (poorly) in French, I must hesitate, try to remember what the future perfect of “etre” (to be) is etc. This stops the flow of speech in its tracks, which wouldn’t happen in English for me. The same concept applies analogously for musical improv; you must have internalized the “grammar” way before performance time in order to react “in the moment” for example because the tune is unfolding, the drummer is keeping time, here comes the bridge, etc. You have to play by ear because you don’t have time to rummage in your mind for scales, chord substitutions, etc. At least that’s the ideal in my opinion.
    I understand your point. But my point is that comparison with conventional language is not quite correct. Because if we take literature we will see that writers can speak language since they are kids and know grammar on intuitive level but it does not make it easier to become a great writer.

    Actually I will go even farther... comparison with foreign labguage in my opinion is a bit risky.
    Today it is very often that people want to be someone else... and I can quite often hear (and seems I do say it myself too occasionally) that 'they thought in a different way', 'we understand it in a different way'...
    'my culture here does not belong to jazz'... 'in renaissance they understood harmony in different way'
    it is foreign.. it is foreign.. we should sturdy the foreign lanbguage. It sounds very often...
    Though many of these statements are correct, I still think it is risky to apply it arts so straightforowardly as it often happens today.
    First thing I do not like is that it referes often to 'we' and 'they' - though I think that art is about 'I' and 'You' and the fact that someone today says that 'we do not understand something' can be good for historical orcultural analysis bit no good for musical performance - becasue in that case it is just 'I' and 'I' is always in question individually now or 300 hundreds years ago.

    I do love and play jazz or renaissance and baroque becasue it is NOT foreign to me. I believe that actually it is quite the other way around... it is in some sense my language if I intuitively respond to that art.
    But understanding is one thing and creating is another (I think I understand European visual arts very well but I have no illusions about my abilities to create something in it).

    Again I generally understand what you mean and agree with you but I just think that this moght need some detalizations. I may seem minor unmportant issues but I thinl it is important.

  20. #119
    Language - the musical part is the accent and tone and choice of words when the rhythm of the phrase is important.
    Music - the language part is the references that are not musical ideas.. musical meanings.. by themselves. "sounds like jazz" doesn't tell anything about the musical ideas at all. Just refers to what we're used to hear as jazz.
    It's not too hard to keep those two terms separated if so desired.

  21. #120
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    I understand your point. But my point is that comparison with conventional language is not quite correct. Because if we take literature we will see that writers can speak language since they are kids and know grammar on intuitive level but it does not make it easier to become a great writer.
    It doesn’t make you a great writer but it makes you a writer. You should try to play by ear (in my opinion) whether your ideas are great, mediocre, or somewhere in between. Because music occurs to you as music ... as sounds... which (in jazz performance) you have to recognize and play “NOW”, you don’t have time for analysis and translation.