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Re: ambitions

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  • Kevin Marshall
    ... merrier. fools rush in where angels fear to tread. (i m no angel for sure) i will attempt to summarize a whole book, which in turn is a summary of
    Message 1 of 5 , 17 Feb, 2005
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      --- In ptrad@..., "Debashis Sinha" <deb@d...> wrote:
      > > i will summarize pinker's views if there is interest.
      > >
      >
      > i would love to hear what that reference says. the more the
      merrier.

      fools rush in where angels fear to tread. (i'm no angel
      for sure)

      i will attempt to summarize a whole book, which in turn
      is a summary of important new findings in evolutionary
      psychology mostly initiated by toobey and cosminides. gee
      thats not much.

      but it is necessary context for anyone who is
      philosophizing in modern times.

      one principle to keep in mind is there are ultimate goals
      and more immediate goals pursued by organisms (including
      humans).

      another is from matt ridley who used the analogy for
      science and morality. science and morality are like two
      different card games played with the same deck. even though
      both have the same 52 cards, the rules they play by and
      the outcomes are decidedly different.

      ultimate goal for all organisms: produce more of the same
      genes they are made of. (dawkins selfish gene)

      what this means in terms of the blank slate is: there
      is no behavior people engage in that is not partly
      genetically determined. example language: although the
      language you will speak is determined by your environment
      - all languages share a deep structure (chomsky) and the
      stages that children go through to learn language are not
      culturally determined.

      there are many more examples and numerous book length
      presentations of the large body of science behind these
      ideas. i'll move on.

      what does this mean for music and the arts? babies
      recognize and are drawn to consonant intervals from the age
      of a few months. this is bad news for stockhausen, harry
      partch and the whole serial twelve tone thing. melodies
      are also a very early attractor.

      music and the arts seem to be an evolutionary adaptation
      around the core message "my senses are working right and
      are not easily deceived". this promotes the ultimate
      organism's goal of being well adapted and surviving.
      a more proximate goal is the long list of aesthetic
      pleasures, intellectual interest in the arts etc. and
      attracting members of the opposite sex, but mostly males
      attracting females. sorry about that, but it is quite
      factual. look at the distribution of the sexes in the
      membership of this group for example.

      so if consonant intervals are attractive, what is
      going on with "stockhausen, harry partch and the whole
      serial twelve tone thing"? there is also an important
      evolutionary adaptation to desire status within one's
      peer group and ever larger subcultures. thus it is an
      adaptation to say "my senses are so refined that i can
      listen to and enjoy stuff that makes every one else gag",
      and proves my superiority... (tom wolfe, From Bauhaus to
      Our House)/pinker

      back to the cards/deck analogy: although one can play
      another game with the deck of aesthetic pleasures, i submit
      that the deck itself does impose limits and guidelines on
      what is a best practice for making music. one does not have
      to stay within the consonant/rhythmic constraints imposed
      by neurology, but an awareness of them gives likely limits
      as to what is neurologically pleasing as opposed to a more
      status seeking aesthetic response.

      so my caution for a post-traditional aesthetic is:
      traditions have existed for some length of time and
      over some (sometimes quite large) population. thus they
      are likely to match with what neurologically is the deep
      structures for music (and the other arts, too). when ptrad
      claims to depart from tradition i submit that a knowledge
      of what these deep structructures are, can be helpful
      in making what is a neurologically sound as opposed to a
      status-related statement.

      what are the deep structures? it is probably not a
      mystery. here's a quick list of suggestions.

      all musical cultures have consonant and dissonant
      intervals and favor melodies that employ more consonant
      than dissonant ones. melodies are close to universal in
      resolving to the tonic. melodies do not last for less
      than 1 second or more than 60 seconds. western harmony is
      a dominant factor all over the world. rhythms of speeds
      less than 40 or greater than 200 beats per minute are not
      favored. rhythmns in 4 are found everywhere. non melodic
      series of notes have a tension and release cycle similar
      to melodies.

      one other proximate goal for organisms is pursuit of
      novelty for the senses. thus while we as musicians are
      constrained by the deep structures (neurologically based
      and not changable by one's conscious will) we also have
      the duty to produce novelty in our productions. how
      much? traditions give a bound.

      this note covered a lot of territory, so write me back with
      things that are not clear or seem nonsensical. i can reply
      with quotes from pinker and ridley (and their sources)
      and expand on any topics that seem of interest.

      this is new stuff to everyone - the research is still
      ongoing. y'all seem like a thoughtful bunch, so if y'all
      can see an error in this line of reasoning (other than
      the canonical: you are SOOOOOO wrong) i'm interested in
      your counter arguments.

      k
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