Being fair to the community is more important than being just to the individual. Discuss.

What follows is my second attempt to complete a LNAT essay question (under exam conditions including 40 minute time limit). I am putting this here  to archive my attempts at timed essay writing; more for my personal benefit than others. If however, you have any suggestions on how I can improve my answers I will happily welcome them; but I won’t make changes to this essay as this is my attempt “as is” (including spelling mistakes and grammar).

I intent to argue that while fairness is a right integral to both individuals as well as the communities they are from, the needs of a community supersede those of an individual. It is important to think about what it is exactly that constitutes a community; a community is a collection of individuals with shared traits, typically their shared geographical location. As such, it is possible to demonstrate that the rights of an individual would appear less important than those of a community if we make the assumption that the rights of all members of the community are of equal worth (as they should within a fair society) then the culmutive worth of the individuals that constitute the community clearly outweigh those of the individual.

For the reason I have stated as an overbearing argument, the rights of the community are more important than those of the individual. This is true with the macroscopic view of my argument, but looking at specific points on a more localized level is needed to supplement this claim. Firstly, consider a scenario common place in today’s newspapers; a large company requesting planning permission, often requiring a drastic and contentious change to the landscape, opposed by a local council with long emotional attachment to the area and a view to protecting and sustaining their way of life. In this case the local council represents the role of the community, while the company represents an individual, through its unified views and single-minded interests. In these cases there is often long deliberation because such issues are often contentious. As a whole however, media coverage representative of the views of the public in general support the community the majority of the time. To further support this view, when public opinion contrasts this, it is not because the views of community are being suppressed in support of the individual. Instead the roles within this scenario have simply reversed and the company has something of benefit to a wider society, while the local constituency appears to have a more focused and individualistic view.

Consider also, the very nature of the system of retribution within Britain today. Individuals are often removed from society as part of our penal system. While this is done in some cases to serve as a punishment to the individuals for crimes they have committed, it also serves as a way to isolate potentially dangerous or volatile persons from negatively effecting society as a whole. This is better illustrated with an example; a criminal who has been convicted of stealing is removed from society not necessarily to punish the criminal but instead prohibits the criminal from stealing further from society. Indeed, a man who been convicted of manslaughter while claiming temporary insanity may receive psychiatric treatment, not to punish the individual but instead to benefit society as a whole. This view to benefiting our communities, and society as a whole is key too much of our penal system.

Many aspects of accepted contemporary etiquette are in place not for the sole benefit of the individual, but for those around them. It is also important to remember that the places may often change, and the should the individual be put in an undesirable position, for example having to endure noisy neighbors; if the individual created similar levels of noise, then his right to do so as an equal would be respected. If several people were subjected to excess noise levels, then surely the rights of the many would outweigh the rights of the few. This view, is open to abuse, and is not continued throughout society as a whole. Indeed, there are executives who often exercise more control than a large majority who might instead share a different view. This example within our society demands the question; “why should the views of powerful individuals be held in esteem to the dismay of the masses?”

It is important to remember that by placing the rights of an individual above those of his community, you do so to the detriment of many others like him. As all members of society are equal, this can be deemed as unfair, and unacceptable in a just civilization. It is for these reasons that rights of a community are so important.

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Should public transport be compulsory in certain areas?

What follows is my first attempt to complete a LNAT essay question (under exam conditions including 40 minute time limit). I am putting this here  to archive my attempts at timed essay writing; more for my personal benefit than others. If however, you have any suggestions on how I can improve my answers I will happily welcome them; but I won’t make changes to this essay as this is my attempt “as is” (including spelling mistakes and grammar).

The key question on this matter is what will benefit the general public more. It is a contentious issue, which will undoubtedly split opinion within the public, and it is important to consider this subject thoroughly before casting judgment on its appropriateness.

The main argument for introducing compulsory public transport is to reduce the negative effects caused by the other forms of transport available. There are many areas of heavy congestion within the UK, in which many of the key problems caused by the oversaturation of British roads could be reduced by the introduction of compulsory public transport. The current problems are caused by to the dominance of the car as the primary method of transport. Some of the problems this causes include pollution; both in the resultant fumes from the combustion process as well as the constant noise caused by cars. Pollution caused by combustion is of particular concern, as this affects not only our generation, but also generations to come. Although this type of combustion has only been in full effect for c.75 years, its impact is already noticeable. While this could easily be reduced by introducing more efficient transportation methods like electric motoring, the development and adoption of such technology is expensive, and it potential benefit to society when contrasted to the other areas where public money could be invested is questionable. Possibly the most obvious method to reduce negative effects of inefficient transport is to adopt compulsory public transport. This at first seems a controversial proposal, however, the ongoing shift in focus towards more environmentally friendly transportation methods is already in full swing. Companies are increasingly promoting staff to carpool; schools encourage students to walk where possible, or to make the most environmentally friendly journey when travelling longer distances. It is important to bear in mind that this is only an argument for adoption of this proposal within certain areas, particularly highly urbanized areas in which most benefit can be gained from such changes.

The changes to the environment, which transportation causes, are something that has happened throughout civilization. The roads of the Romans, the lochs of the Victorians are all lasting signs of human settlement, which are debatable for their effect on the landscape. It is important to consider how our transportation footprint will change the landscape for our children.

Making public transport compulsory has several benefits to end users, but it is important to consider the financial implications of adopting such a larger change. Increasing the number of users of public transport, whether state funded or otherwise would mean more money would be generated through public transport. Of this increased profit a larger amount of money would be available for improving public transport. On the other side of this argument, it is important to remember that an increased number of users on the current public transport systems would be likely to place a strain on the resources available. While further research into the financial suitability of making public transport is needed, indeed a full enquiry is necessary before committing to such a radical change; because of the larger capital generated by public transport, combined with the reduced outlay governments would have to invest in the obsolete transport methods I would feel safe in making the assumption that making public transport compulsory is not only financially viable, but good use of public investment for a long term reward.

While it is important not to disregard the stresses and other ailments caused by overpopulated public transport, we must also compare this to transport in general. Other problems include the safety risks which having such a wide plethora of transport available in such a limited space can introduce. Motorbikes, cars, cycles, buses, taxis, trains can all be found in most urban areas of Britain and this variety of transport requires a wide range of regulation in order to maintain safety. The easiest way to avoid accidents is to simplify the process and reduce it to its simplest constituents. By making public transport compulsory, we can better regulate transport in general and like in a safer environment.

While there are several drawbacks to making public transport compulsory, it does provide some key benefits including; safety, a better environment for both us and generations to come, economic gain. These benefits far outweigh the drawbacks and I am of the view that public transport should be compulsory in certain, particularly highly urbanized, areas.

Moral Obligation in Computing

Moral Obligation in Computing

To what extent is a computer aware of its own existence? With modern technology contemporary computers have a number of ways to detect its surroundings; most computers have webcams – providing a computer sensitivity to light, most computers have microphones – providing a computer sensitivity to sound, they have keyboards – providing a computer sensitivity to pressure (albeit limited in nature, much like in humans; to the confines of a matrix of receptors), the computer I’m working on at the moment even has an infrared sensor on it, and the list goes on.. More modern computers have some senses, which humans have not got; they are sensitive to external electrical signals in a way humans are not, they are sensitive to radio waves like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and so on. These are directly comparative to human senses, and provide a computer the basis for an awareness of the external world. Further still computers can collect information about its surroundings from a pool of memory held in the ether through the Internet.

Some people argue that computers are incapable of original thought, because computers simply follow predetermined formulae to reach an answer. Surely this is no different to human thought processes; any human brain will follow the same methods to arrive at a thought as any other, it is only differences in the lives and experiences of these persons (as well as any inherent indeterminacy caused by the either stimuli leading to the though, or experiences influencing decision making procedure) that causes a change in thought. If a computer could be programmed to adhere to the same procedures the human mind follows when thinking, would a computer be equally alive as man?

Computers are already capable of consciousness far more developed than many simple creatures, not to mention a more highly developed faculty for systematic process. When we buy computers surely we have a moral obligation to care for them; much like we would a dog or cat, a computer capable of consciousness requires caring and certain values. We wouldn’t buy a cat and leave it locked in a room without food; likewise should a computer be provided electricity to sustain its life? We should consider the disposability of machines in this ever developing computerised world of smart phones, PDAs, laptops and desktop computers; we wouldn’t just get rid of a kitten when a puppy comes along, just because a puppy is more appealing at the time.


Whom I Wish to Destroy Shall Be Destroyed!

Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904) is perhaps best know today for his attitudes about the music of his time, particularly his veneration of the more conservative music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and conversely his vilification of the more progressive music of Richard Wagner (1813-1883). While these two composers exemplify Hanslick’s musical views, particularly throughout his own writings, it is his relationship with the composer Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) where he served the most impact. This essay will focus on the later work by Bruckner and the relationship between Hanslick and Bruckner around this period.
Before looking at Hanslick’s writings about Bruckner, it is important to contextualize both Hanslick’s opinions in general, as well as to look at other contemporary sources to explore the general attitude to Bruckner’s music. His contemporaries considered Hanslick primarily a critic, although he also held an important academic post in Vienna, as well as being an influential aesthetician. As mentioned earlier, Hanslick had a well-documented strained relationship with Wagner. This was originally caused by Wagner’s use of music as a dramatic tool, which lowered the value of music, which Hanslick decries in his Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (Hanslick, ein Beitrag zur Revision der Aesthetik der Tonkunst, 1858, pp. 35-36). Because of this professed love of absolute music, Hanslick decries the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) who uses program as a tool in many of his works. Despite Bruckner’s absolute musical approach, Hanslick’s views about Bruckner were influenced by the composer’s affinity for Wagner, demonstrated by the dedication of his third symphony to Wagner. Some critics of the time also struggled to appreciate the gargantuan proportions of Bruckner’s symphonies, and the consequent structural difficulties within Bruckner’s music, caused by the constant revisions required of him in order to obtain performances. This was because of the progressive attitude Bruckner had, which was also shared by very different figures like Franz Liszt (1811-1886) whom Hanslick also had a low opinion of at the time (Hanslick, ein Beitrag zur Revision der Aesthetik der Tonkunst, 1858, p. IX). It is important to remember Bruckner was neither the sole recipient, nor the worst affected by Hanslick’s scathing remarks. Of Wagner’s Prelude to Tristian and Isolde Hanslick is famously quoted as saying “[it] reminds one of the old Italian painting of a martyr whose intestines are slowly unwound from his body on a reel” (Tristan und Isolde) which demonstrates Hanslick’s ability to articulate cruel derisive comments. As Derek Watson states, it is hard to empathize with Hanslick, in part because of his formidable tongue, but also his position of power within Vienna(Watson, 1996, p. 50). Hanslick was in such a position of power he was able make such outlandish statements as “Whom I wish to be destroyed shall be destroyed!” (Harrandt, 2004, p. 32)
Bruckner received a mixed reception in Vienna. Part of the reason for the divide in opinion is down to the split opinion over music that is more conservative and more progressive, both categories that could envelop Bruckner’s output, as Bruckner was attached to more conservative practices of music and studied composition techniques extensively with Simon Sechter (1788-1867). The notable critic Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) said of him, “one single cymbal clash by Bruckner is worth all four symphonies of Brahms with the serenades thrown in”
“Das publicum geigte freilich nicht viel ‘resistance’ es fluchtete sum theile schon nach dem gweiten das dieser symphonischen riesenschlange, fluchtete in hellen haufen nach dem dritten, so das nur ein Neiner Rest der horerschaft im Genuffe des Finales verblich. Diese muthige Bruckner legion applaudirte und jubelte aber mit der wucht von Tausenden” (Hanslick, Neue Freie Presse, 1886)
This quote from Hanslick’s review of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E major shows Hanslick’s negative view about Bruckner’s music, combined with insight into the reception of the piece by the Viennese public at the time of the premiere. Hanslick uses the word ‘riesenschlange’ or snake to describe the unusual musical structure as well carrying sinister connotations and condemning the composition. This quote also concedes that no matter what Hanslick’s personal view of the music is, the audience applauded and cheered loudly after the performance. It is also important to note that Hanslick uses the same level of linguistic ingenuity when constructing praise for the work, and that despite his dislike for Bruckner; both the music and the man at this point; Hanslick is making an effort to remain impartial. Hanslick goes on to say “aber Bruckner ist Armeebefehl geworden und der gweite Beethoven im Glaubensartifel der Richard Wagner,”(Hanslick, Neue Freie Presse, 1886) which proclaims Bruckner to be the next Beethoven. If it were not for the political situation at the time, this might be seen as a compliment but is instead intended to attach the progressive nature of the composition. This is peculiar, as Hanslick had also proclaimed Brahms, a dear ally to be successor of Beethoven also, which could therefore be interpreted as praise for Bruckner.
“Ich bekenne unumwunden, das ich uber Bruckner’s Symphonie kaum ganz gerecht urtheilen konnte, so antipathisch beruhrt mich diese musik, so unaturlich aufgeblasen, frankhaft und verderblich erscheint sie mir. Wie jedes grobere werk Bruckner’s, enthalt auch die E-dur symphonie geniale einfalle, interessante, ja schone stellen – hier sechs, dort acht Tacte – gwischen diesen blitzen dehnt fich aber unabsehbares Dunfel, bleierne Langerweile und fieberhafte Ueberreizung.” (Hanslick, Neue Freie Presse, 1870)
This quote from the same review demonstrates Hanslick’s using bitter sarcasm to attack the work. The opening clause roughly translates as ‘we have no wish to hurt this composer for whom we entertain a high regard both as a man and artist’ which I would interpret to be written with mocking insincerity rather than genuine encouragement, and which is supported by the rest of the sentence ‘whose musical aims are sincere, albeit their treatment is strange’ which reflects Hanslick’s disapproval and sarcastic undertones. This also could be interpreted as showing Hanslick conceding there are elements of strong music within the composition. As Bruckner heavily revised his symphonies until his death, combined with the well-documented cuts he made to the performing versions of his scores, it is possible that the structure may have indeed been substandard for this performance and Hanslick’s comments therefore justified. It is likely that without the low confidence caused by Hanslick that Bruckner would have produced far fewer versions of his symphonies. What could be considered a patronizing tone in the opening statement is continued throughout this extract with Hanslick commenting ‘here six, there eight bars’ which uses positive criticism ironically to ridicule the piece. Hanslick also reveals here that he has trouble coping with the length of the symphony, ‘there are interminable stretches of darkness, somber boredom and feverish over-excitement’. This is important as there is some debate about how the large scope of Bruckner’s work was viewed by his contemporaries, and this statement reflects that the duration was an issue for some listeners. It is also important to note that there were many supporters for the extended scope of Bruckner’s music.
“In spite of his renown, Hanslick was far from universally revered. As a critic, he spoke solely for his time and class”(Sams). This statement demonstrates the kind of audience Hanslick was writing for, in addition to demonstrating the view that his contemporaries did not always value Hanslick’s opinions, however, this view is not further echoed in any of the other work I have come across. This is, however reflected in some the way he entered the music journalist profession; originally trained as a lawyer, Hanslick began his career writing articles for his local papers and the music journal Wiener Musik-Zeitung before he secured his position as a critic at the Neue Freie Presse, where he would eventually rise through the ranks to become chief music critic for the paper, and one of the most influential musical powers in Vienna. He had limited training in music theory, but actively read music history, however, despite this, his views as expressed throughout Vom Musikalisch-Schönen demonstrate reverence for what he called ancient music – included in this are composers such as Bach (Hanslick, ein Beitrag zur Revision der Aesthetik der Tonkunst, 1858). Modern insight into the general view of Hanslick’s criticism can be found in the statement “He was the typical cultured and eloquent journalist fashionable in Europe towards the end of the last centaury” (Doernberg, 1960, p. 74).
While Hanslick was not always highly admired for his writings, he was nevertheless extremely influential, and his prominence in the Viennese music world has been noted by several academics as seen in the following statement “Without Hanslick – nothing happens in Vienna” (Harrandt, 2004, p. 34). Like most critics, Hanslick’s views changed over time; and he praised both Bruckner and even Wagner when he first met them, although his views quickly soured over time. Conversely, his initial lack respect for Liszt began to change as Hanslick aged. “For Brahms, Hanslick was of some practical use; for Wagner he was an irritating nuisance. It was in connection with Bruckner that he gained in stature; here, he figures as the Adversary and doubtless enjoyed the distinction”(Doernberg, 1960, p. 75). As this statement reflects, Hanslick however is often shown to be a powerful figure, whereas Bruckner is often caricatured as a timid, almost cowardly figure. Because of the relative power of Hanslick, Bruckner was by far the most heavily effected by Hanslick’s often-harsh criticism. While Hanslick often criticizes Bruckner’s compositions, causing Bruckner stress and hurt, it is important to remember that Hanslick was on amicable terms with Bruckner. It is also important remember that while Bruckner’s compositions fell under harsh criticism Hanslick respected Bruckner’s musicality, which can be seen in the following review;
“In the professor of the local Conservatory, Anton Bruckner, we possess one of the most outstanding organ virtuosos, who at the last music festival in Nancy, then in Paris… performed on the famous organs of St Epvre, St Sulpice, and Notre-Dame with such success that he defeated the most renowned Belgian and French organists in formal competition. Only in Vienna is it impossible to hear Bruckner, for until now he, the Imperial Court Organist, has not been allowed to use the organ for a recital or even only for private practice.” (Hanslick, Neue Freie Fresse, 1870)
This review is unusual because Hanslick’s writing style focuses heavily on the composer, while generally spending little time commenting on the quality of the performance. This is true of Hanslick’s criticism in general, not just limited to Bruckner; Hanslick himself was strongly against the idea of a heroic singer or virtuoso performer. It is also important to remember that a large majority of the music that was performed in this period would be new music. It is because he had such high regard for Bruckner’s musicality that he made this variation to his customary writing style.
Hanslick said of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor;
“The Philharmonic Orchestra devoted its entire concert to a new symphony by Bruckner. It is the eighth in the series and similar to its predecessors in form and mood. I found this newest one, as I have found the other Bruckner symphonies, interesting in detail but strange as a whole and even repugnant. The nature of the work consists – to put it briefly – in applying Wagner’s dramatic style to the symphony.” (Hanslick, Music Criticisms 1846-99, 1963, pp. 288-290)
While this statement is clearly derogatory in nature, it is mainly just reiterating fact. Because of this, with only the clause “strange as a whole and even repugnant” used by Hanslick to express opinion on the concert, there is an inferred sense of credibility to the negative comments. Here Hanslick once again reiterates his failure to understand Bruckner’s work in its large scope, instead praising its details.
“Also characteristic of Bruckner’s newest symphony is the immediate juxtaposition of dry schoolroom counterpoint with unbounded exaltation. Thus, tossed about between intoxication and desolation, we arrive at no definite impression and enjoy no artistic pleasure. Everything flows, without clarity and without order, willy-nilly into dismal long-windedness. In each of the four movements, and most frequently in the first and third, there are interesting passages and flashes of genius – if only all the rest were not there! It is not out of the question that the future belongs to this muddled hangover style – which is no reason to regard the future with envy. For the time being, however, one would prefer that symphonic and chamber music remain undefiled by a style only relatively justified as an illustrative device for certain dramatic situations.” (Hanslick, Music Criticisms 1846-99, 1963, pp. 288-290)
This is an interesting and insightful paragraph. Hanslick reveals an acknowledgement that more progressive works may be more relevant to future generations than the more conservative music he cherished. Hanslick also makes positive comments in this paragraph, noting that there are moments in the music that he regards as genius, before continuing by again condemning the length of a Bruckner work. Structure is again commented on, as before. This may have been influenced by changes made to a performing score. While Hanslick notes some of the academic merit of the contrapuntal techniques, he continues by criticizing the artistic value of the work. This type of statement is typical of Hanslick; he makes a positive comment before later going on to criticize the work. This could be viewed as Hanslick attempting to give a rounded review of the work.
Derek Watson stipulates that the criticism, which Bruckner received heavily, deeply affected the composer. He became highly self critical as a result of criticism, and was nervous about performing or publishing his work. His letters show this insight into the composer’s feelings. The criticism of these later works are consistent with the criticism Hanslick made of Bruckner’s earlier works.
Throughout Hanslick’s criticism of Bruckner, he maintains a consistent stance on some aspects of Bruckner’s music. Most noticeably are Hanslick’s regular comments about the length of the concerts and consequently the large-scale structures used. This can be seen as a matter of opinion and not as a general consensus of how the public found Bruckner’s music. Another regular point of criticism is the dramatic nature of the music, often accompanied with references to Wagner. The points are interesting because both feature in Brahms’s music of which Hanslick approved of, and are surplus in his Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor. Like many of the critics that succeed him, Hanslick avoids using technical language wherever possible to ensure the maximum number of readers can access his judgments. Because Hanslick was such an early critic, some conventional practices were not commonplace with Hanslick and his contemporaries; Hanslick uses first person in many of his critiques. Hanslick was extremely articulate (much to the misfortune of Bruckner!) and would use his charismatic and witty writing style to engage readers. This sort of style is particularly evident with the earlier reference to ‘riesenschlange’.
While Hanslick attacks Bruckner’s compositions, particularly for their length and proclaimed Wagnerian influence, he does make attempts to remain impartial. He also developed an interesting and varied writing style, which is displayed in his writings about Bruckner. Despite Bruckner’s low self-esteem, caused in part due to Hanslick’s writings, with far fewer revisions and desperation for approval, Bruckner would ultimately have been very a different composer without his arch nemesis Eduard Hanslick.

Bibliography
Doernberg, E. (1960). The life and symphonies of Anton Bruckner. London: Barrie and Rockliff.
Hanslick, E. (1870, January 11). Neue Freie Fresse (1928), p. 2.
Hanslick, E. (1870, January 11). Neue Freie Presse (1928), p. 2.
Hanslick, E. (1886, March 30). Neue Freie Presse (7755), p. 2.
Hanslick, E. (1963). Music Criticisms 1846-99. (H. Pleasants, Ed., & H. Pleasants, Trans.) London: Penquin Books.
Hanslick, E. (1858). Vom Musikalisch-Schönen. Leipzig: P. Reclam.
Harrandt, A. (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner. (J. Williamson, Ed.) Cambridge: University Press.
Sams, E. (n.d.). Eduard Hanslick. Retrieved 4 6, 2010, from Centro Studi Eric Sams: http://www.ericsams.org/sams_vocehanslick_eng.htm
Tristan und Isolde. (n.d.). Retrieved 4 21, 2010, from Wikipeadia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristan_und_Isolde
Watson, D. (1996). Master Musicians Bruckner. (S. Sadie, Ed.) Oxford: University Press.
Worb, H. (2001). Bruckner, Anton. In S. Sadie (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Second Edition ed., Vol. 4, pp. 458-487). London: Macmillan.

Art or Craft?

Before weighing the significance of art against that of craft it is important to discriminate between these two terms, difficult to isolate the meaning of one term from another. One method is to look at the definitions of the words themselves. According to the Oxford dictionary, art is defined as:

  1. 1) The expression or application of creative skill and imagination, especially through a visual medium such as painting or sculpture.
  2. 2) The various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.
  3. 3) Subjects of study primarily concerned with human culture (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects).
  4. 4) A skill in a specified thing. (Soanes and Stevenson, 2006 p.73)

Whereas craft is defined as:

  1. 1) An activity involving skill in making things by hand.
  2. 2) Skill in carrying out one’s work. (Soanes and Stevenson, 2006 p.333)

These definitions demonstrate a vague resemblance between the terms, which in itself also highlights the historic link between the two. Art itself is generally ill defined, and introduces the problem of what to define as art? In addition to this, Batteux argues that craft has itself been presented as a constituent of art (1746 p.IX). This does not help discriminate one term from another, so for the purpose of this essay the distinction between arts and craft will be that art utilizes a concept, whereas craft is the abstract application of technique. Now that these terms have been separated their importance relative to one another can be argued.

Concept in art has changed dramatically since the start of the twentieth century, and has increasingly become an integral part of art, to the extent that in contemporary art the terms are practically synonymous. Subsequently most of the key works that influence contemporary art most strongly, are conceptual pieces. An iconic work in the development of conceptual art is Duchamp’s (1887-1968) Fountain (1917). Naumann and Kuenzli argues that the idea of a concept has been a part of art since the Renaissance, and that conceptual art like Fountain is merely a natural extension of this (1989 p.32).  However, while a conceptual icon, Fountain can also be argued to employ craft to create the required aesthetic; although the visual image of the toilet could be considered visually interesting, it is the idea behind putting it there that it the most striking characteristic of the work. The development of concept within art is not a new idea, and has maintained a symbiotic relationship with art throughout history, with many pieces utilizing concepts to illustrate ideas and messages. The difference here is that the concept is hidden within the art, and used to supplement the aesthetic; while in conceptual art, the concept is the art.

According to Kant, aesthetic interest does not come about through functional and practical concern, and therefore art does not need to serve a purpose (1781 p.83). This view is exemplified in readymade art. Kant also states beauty is not an attribute belonging to a piece of art or the beautiful aspects of nature; but is instead an awareness of the pleasure which attends the ‘free play’ of the imagination and the understanding (1781 p.83). This statement demonstrates the subjective qualities of art, which present the problem with varying opinion, and the problems with appreciation of subjective views, which cause difficulties as it implies dominance of certain views without requiring fact for justification. This is important to the discussion of art versus craft because is highlights the problem of judging one against the other using only speculation, and opinion as basis for merit. Some works of art, such as Robert Rauschenberg’s (1925) Portrait of Galerie Iris Clert (1961) demonstrates an artistic concept of wholly removing craft from the art. This work developed conceptual art, as it is a work defined by the creator, not the observer; thus, shifting the values placed upon an artist in relation to a consumer.

Because artistic value is held within an idea, it can be argued that conceptual art can be mass-produced on a large scale without losing artistic value. While examples of mass production can be found with both concept and technique based art, mass production is more evident in conceptual art because the time spent by the artist is taken up with creating ideas; once an idea is formed, it can be reproduced quickly with little extra artistic input. However, with craft based art, the time spent by the artist applying refined techniques will need to be repeated for each subsequent reproduction. Examples of such mass produced conceptual art can be seen with Damien Hirst’s (b.1965) Spot Paintings, which employed staff to implement Hirst’s ideas, without any further impetus from the artist. This is practice is supported the quote “the artist is seen like a producer of commodities, like a factory that turns out refrigerators” (Lewitt, 1977).

Conceptual art’s relationship with the public is unusual, with a noticeable divide in popular opinion, with strong feelings both for and against it. An example of the negative view can be seen in the flippant statement “For many, art galleries are places where stains, largely rectangular, hang on walls.” (Lyas, 1997 p.5) which uses the word stain to reference paintings derogatorily, indicating a dissatisfaction with contemporary art, and in particular is sociological environment.  This highlights the negative feelings some art viewers may hold about contemporary art.

The use of concept is not restricted to a high art culture; the increasing popularism and value found with graffiti artists, which often utilize both aesthetic and concept in works. An example of this is the popularity of graffiti artist Bansky (1974), which often focuses upon ideas, messages and the ironic use of existing material rather than relying on aesthetic alone to create interest.

While concept is important, it does not diminish the enjoyment people get from art that employs craft alone. Examples of such art can include music from both commercial pop and dance. People congregate to listen to such music in great numbers; “their ears are constantly stimulated by music; they dance with astonishing rhythm and dynamism; they are saturated with the narrative drama of the screen” (Lyas, 1997 p.4) which demonstrates enjoyment of craft as perceived in popular culture.  Some contemporary art heavily utilizing craft can be seen as a historic link to antiquated customs, continuing traditional practices without attempting to improve upon them.

The necessity for craft to present images has been diminished in modern times because of improvements in technology. An early use of art was to capture time, whether actual such as portraits, or fictitious like imaginary incidents. With new equipment like the camera, it became possible to capture and store moments in time, rendering the function of this type of craftsman obsolete. This produced the new art forms; photography and film. This development questions the need for the archaic craft of painting to contemporary society, as many of its uses have been superseded by other art forms. As such this also questions the relevance of craft for craft’s sake.

One reaction to the widespread acceptance of conceptual art, and its promotion by institutions like the Turner Prize was the Stuckist Art Movement. This group was formed from a group of people who shared contempt for the values held by many of the leading conceptual artists of the time; they criticize conceptual art, as well as post modernity in general.

“Punk, especially in its more extreme, non-commercial varieties, has a reputation for being bad music par excellence: a music that seems to go out of its way to be terrible, offensive, unlistenable” (Rodel, 2004 p.235) This type of music emphasizes the utilization of both craft and artistic concept, as the crafted aesthetic of a harsh and callous soundworld comes about from an artistic decision to create a musical response to their opinions on society as a whole. There are many examples where such a soundworld has been imitated in new work, and used out of context as reference to the original concept. Likewise, this soundworld has been used superficially because of its striking sound and used purely for its aural appeal without any significant attachment to concept. While such artistic concept requires application of specific techniques (or inherent lack of) to implement, it is the philosophical rebellion that is most characteristic of this type of music and as such would emphasize the importance of art over that of craft.

One problem with utilizing craft by itself is that without new ideas, existing forms can be oversaturated and art becomes merely a restatement of existing art. The statement “Bad music is everywhere! Just hit the scan button on your radio while driving down any highway in any state and listen to the constant regurgitating drone of the same formulaic pop song,” (Washburne and Derno, 2004 p.1) demonstrates this problem of the application of craft alone, and highlights the lack of ingenuity present when ideas are removed from the compositional process.  The application of craft in isolation as seen in such instances, often shows the restatement of a single aesthetic in excess until all musical potential has been extracted from the music and the music stripped. This oversaturation of similar music could be considered ironic when contrasted to the way in which some craft based music is presented; pop music is continually diminishing in length to prevent boredom, requiring little concentration in order to fully appreciate.

Salvador Dali’s (1904-1989) The Persistence of Memory (1931) is a good example of craft based art being used to convey a concept; this piece demonstrates the relative concept of the passing of time, which is represented by objects without the ability to track the passing of time. This view is shared by Blesser and Salter (2007), who state that here it is an idea that constitutes the art, and the concept is important, and less of the focus is placed upon the craft involved with the painting of the work and the technical ability Dali employed. From a visual perspective, the phrase “The pleasure buttons are the content of the illusions” (Pinker, 1997 p.526) is used to describe how it is the subject of visual art that evokes emotion, and not the medium in which the subject is portrayed that is most relevant. This observation on conventional art translates equally to conceptual art, for example; the skill involved in conceiving the geometry and design utilized many readyminade sculptures may promote visual interest, but less striking than the visual aesthetic is the use of concept; in this case the use of such found object.

As the previous statements imply, both art and craft are important, and each have their own characteristic merits. In general however, concept can be seen as more relevant to contemporary art than craft. While historically craft can be seen as the governing artistic power, the advancement of technology has surpassed the need for craft in some of the traditional arts; which has facilitated a shift in values advantaging concept. The view that art is more important than craft can also be seen in the major artistic bodies, with significant institutions like the Turner Prize demonstrating the value of art. While this is shown primarily through financial caché, the money is intrinsically linked to the artistic merits of art, as the use of money to evaluate the worth of art in these circumstances is merely intermediary. While there are some art groups like the Stuckists who argue the merits of craft; the importance of concept throughout the twentieth century is clearly evident, and it has influenced much of the produced art since. Indeed, the very fact that the Stuckists exist demonstrates the widespread acceptance of the relative importance of concept against that of craft; and places conceptual art in a position of authority over craft based art within modern society. This ultimately means that to today’s artistic community, concept is more important than craft.

Bibliography

Batteux, C. (1746) Les Beaux Arts, Paris: Durand.

Birchler, C., Burkholder, J. and Giger, A. (2003) Musical Borrowing, 4June, [Online], Available: http://www.chmtl.indiana.edu/borrowing/browsemn.html [3 January 2010].

Blesser, B. and Salter, L. (2007) Spaces speak, are you listening?, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Kant, I. (n.d) Critique of Pure Reason.

Keats, J. (1818) Endymion, London: Taylor and Hessey.

Lyas, C. (1997) Aesthetics, London: University College London Press.

Naumann, F. and Kuenzli, R. (1989) Marcel Duchamp, Mitchegan: MIT Press.

Pinker, S. (1997) How the Mind Works, New York: Norton.

Rodel, A. (2004) ‘Extreme Noise Terror’, Bad Music.

Soanes, C. and Stevenson, A. (ed.) (2006) Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th edition, Oxford: University Press.

Washburne, C. and Derno, M. (2004) Bad Music, New York: Routledge.

Record Revolution?

Has the invention of recording completely revolutionized music? Reproducing recorded sound is a recent invention, dating from 1877 with Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) and the invention of the phonograph (Chew, 1967 p.2). The idea of listening to recorded music would probably be inconceivable to people from earlier cultures. Recording has changed the way people consume music, whether through buying a CD, a digital download or through the radio; and this change has itself affected the way composers create music.

Recording separated a sound from its original place in both time and space; and sounds became isolated from the mechanisms that made them. Because recording separated sound from visual stimulus, a huge change occurred in the customs surrounding the consummation of music. This also consequentially reduces the importance of the physicality and visual appeal of performers. Musicians with a strong sense of character and stage presence have to sacrifice these aspects of their performance when recordings are made, and the visual drama created in music is lost in recordings. Some musicians took this as a liberating starting point, and invented acousmatic music. While the separation of visual from audio is very evident in recordings, it is not something new; music played on church organ usually hides the organist from the view of an audience.

Because recording allowed music to migrate from the place of the initial recording, music was freely available in a much larger range of environments. This leads to a re-contextualization for music not originally intended for recordings.  Re-contextualization changes the purpose for a piece of music, for example an aria intended for listening within an opera might be removed from this context and performed as a football chant. This is a developed form of the separation a score could provide from initial purpose, which can be seen with Henry Purcell’s (1659-1959) Funeral Music for Queen Mary, which was intended for performance at a specific point in time, but has been subsequently performed in other contexts, such as concerts. This is exaggerated in contemporary society, where many people listen to music, using personal music players like mp3 players, listening to music in cars with CD players common place. Many shopping complexes use recordings simply to create an atmosphere; music is no longer restricted to the domain of the concert hall. As such the values held in concert halls are consequently less important within an equivalent contemporary listening environment. Allan Moore echoes this view:

“The physical response called up by some Mozart will depend far more on its performance situation, and is thus a reaction to the performers rather than the music. The applause given it in a concert hall would normally be out of place when listening at home to the recording” (Moore, 2000 p.163).

The change in performance customs also mark a change in the way we approach music; in a western concert environment the audience are encouraged to remain silent throughout a performance, while when listening to music at home, listeners regularly talk over recordings. Music can be skipped and ignored using media, but not in a concert situation:

“Radio, gramophone, and film have made available a) boundless surfeit of music. Here, perhaps the frightful expression “consumption of music” really does apply after all. For perhaps this continuous tinkle, regardless of whether anyone wants to here it or not, whether anyone can take it in, whether anyone can use it, will lead to a state where all music has been consumed, worn out.” (Schoenberg, 1975 p147)

The widespread reliance on recordings could be interpreted as causing a decline in the number of amateur musicians. Before recording, the main way for music to be heard was live performance, which required either hired musicians or amateur players to perform at the venue.

“It wasn’t until the invention of the player piano and, more importantly, the gramophone in the late nineteenth century that production, storage, and portability were once again greatly altered” (Taylor, 2001 p.1).

Recording has since removed this need. The social environment surrounding amateur music making has consequently been changed, musicians are not a necessity for hearing music.

Because a recording has an inherent facility to be duplicated, the access available through a recording is greater than that through a concert. And because a recording is abstracted from a fixed point in time, and inherently can be stored and recalled later as more recordings are made the total number of recordings in the world is growing exponentially, leading to an abundance of music and a plethora of choice. Recordings facilitate a re-listening of music unavailable to people before its invention. This re-listening allows a listener to become intimately acquainted with a recording, and pick up specific nuances that could go unnoticed with a single listening.  Because every performance is intrinsically unique, this can have negative impacts for performers; as no single performance can be perfect, mistakes and misjudgments made on the recording are documented within the audio; on the other hand recording allows music that is performed well only once, through fortuity, to be stored, implying mastery of the techniques involved, and that the performer is more capable than they actually are. Re-listening has also changed the way people approach learning music. Many jazz musicians, brought up with recordings, would slow down records to learn notes and to better analyze the technique of the top performers (Lines, 2009, Lecture). Recording provides these musicians a better transcription of the music than a score would give, and provides a better ground for learning new compositional ideas and performance techniques. This view can also be seen in Eisenberg, “Live music and paper-composed music would now mimic records” (Eisenberg, 2000 p.199).

The development of records into salable items further transitioned music as a commodity into new depths. In a commercial environment, music is grouped into genres to help consumers identify and select appropriate recordings to buy without first requiring the consumer to listen to them; because the consumers can have expectations of the musical content of a recording based on the genres it is labeled with. Because of the increasing quantity of music available, a greater distinction is made to help better classify the stylistic variations between music, which leads to the creation of a wide variety of genres. The application of genres is a relativistic concept; music is labeled by the music it is contrasting, a recording might be labeled simply pop if contrasted with a classical piece like a Mozart aria, but then labeled bubblegum if contrasted with a piece of sophisti-pop. This has significantly influenced western culture, as many people associate their musical tastes with their personality and lifestyle as a whole:

“Not only is rock music an integral part of the life of many people, but it is also a cultural initiator: to like rock, to like a certain kind of rock rather than another, is also a way of life, a manor of reacting; it is a whole set of tastes and attitudes” (Boulez & Foucault, 2000 p.164)

Recordings limit the spontaneity of music. This is particularly evident in jazz where solos that were originally improvised have been recorded and now become fixed objects.  Many jazz performers used well-known standards to improvise on; recording provides the best way of archiving the spontaneous changes within the music, which would go unrecorded in notated scores; Improvisers “knew what to put between the written notes” (Eisenberg, 2000 p.200).

The increased quantity of music correlates with the reduction of cost and space required for storing recordings. This trend is helped by the continual improvement of recording technology, which is itself indicative of the importance of recordings within society. The amount of time spent listening to music has changed dramatically since the invention of recording. Since the invention of recording music has become increasingly accessible. To hear a piece of music requires less of an investment in time and money, and the abstraction of a recording from its original point in time also means it can be heard whenever and wherever.

This has implications on the way we as a society listen to music; today people carry around large catalogues of music on mp3 players and in general people listen to music for a longer period of time than before the invention of recording. At the time of writing the market leading mp3 player; the Apple iPod Classic holds 40,000 songs (Apple Inc. Online). Another cultural implication of this is the emergence of the concept of an artist; with larger numbers of recordings of the same music, preferred aspects of a performance contribute to the value of the music.

“Broadcasting, the BBC argued, was the final step in the ‘true democratization of music’ – the means through which ‘the shepherd on the downs, or the lonely crofter in the farthest Hebrides and, what is equally important the [laborer] in his squalid tenement in our but too familiar slums, or the lonely invalid on her monotonous couch, may all, in spirit, sit side by side with the patron of the stalls and hear some of the best performances in the world’” (Scannell, 2000 p.193).

While this statement was originally made in reference to radio; it holds equally well with recorded music, as recording has made it increasingly possible for those away from thee best performance venues to consume music performed to high standards.

Live performances were constrained by a number of limiting factors, which are alleviated by the widespread introduction of recording. These include the logistics of getting musicians together, capable of performing to an acceptable standard of playing at the same time and place as the audience, the cost of paying performers for every performance, cost of venue hire and maintenance, the singularity of that performance; a good performance on one occasion does not necessarily mean that a subsequent performance will be good, and vice versa.

“In 1927 the BBC took over responsibility for sponsoring and financially guaranteeing the Promenade Concerts” (Scannell, 2000 p.195).

It is no coincidence that arguably one of the most accessible series of concerts in Britain is run by a broadcasting company; indeed a large number of the orchestras in the country have ties with broadcasters and recording companies. It is also important to emphasize that the majority of people will listen to a recording of a piece of music before they see that music performed live.

“The decreasing cost of technology to the average consumer has resulted in the last decade in entirely new kinds of musics that rely heavily on personal computers, synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic gear. These new musics can be performed “live,” in public but they are just as frequently never heard live at all, the musician sitting alone in his (it is usually a he) studio cranking out tunes.” (Taylor, 2001 p.139)

“Music as social activity is becoming a thing of the past for most musicians” (Taylor, 2001 p.139). While this broad statement is generally true, indeed most people consume music as an event isolated from the production of music, people to congregate socially to listen to recordings. This statement is supported by contemporary ideology;

“Some of the changes in contemporary America: public spaces are increasingly thought to be uninhabitable, intolerant and intolerable, even monstrous; being in public is like being in prison, or in a police state” (Taylor, 2001 p.136).

A counter to this statement is the development of dance culture; with events drawing in large numbers of customers for what is a largely musical experience. Modern audio equipment means loud, hall-filling sounds can be produced without taking up a large volume of space, which would previously require a large number of musicians. “Everything about a dance club is designed to alter your senses and focus them on the music and dancing” (Taylor, 2001 p.171). The music commonly played at such venues is possible through technological advances that stem from the invention of recording, including changes to the audio in a post-recording stage. Post-recording editing has influenced our music, with new sounds and possibilities created, music can be played back at different speeds to that at which it was recorded, resulting in timbral changes as well as providing a way to perform impossibly fast music. It has facilitated the creation of multi-tracking, which enables new sound worlds, and the creation of music with textures previously unavailable by small groups of performers. This technique was explored in detail in the early twentieth century with music concrète. These are only a few examples of the changes to music that have occurred as a result of recording. Recording has influenced music itself to the point that it is impossible to chronicle in this essay.

The record industry can be seen as either a competitor or a development of the earlier music publishing business. The shift in the listening environment of most consumers, from live venues to recorded media has changed the power of those working in the music industry. Records threatened the all aspects off the traditional music industry, including:

“piano-makers and retailers, music teachers, sheet music publishers, music hall and vaudeville artists, proprietors and so on”. (Martin, 2000 p.209)

The financial power of concert planners and scored music publishers has declined since the record industry emerged. This has changed the financial pressure upon musicians, as recording provides the medium for most financial capital. Media’s dominance in the distribution and access to music is highlighted:

“the economy is there to remind us, in case we get lost in this bland utopia: there are musics which bring in money and exist for commercial profit: there are musics that cost something, whose very concept has nothing to do with profit. No liberalism will erase this distinction.” (Boulez & Foucault, 2000 p.165)

This view is echoed in the film ‘Before the Music Dies’,

“Never have so few companies controlled so much of the music played on the radio and for sale at retail stores. At the same time, there are more bands and more ways to discover their music than ever. Music seems to have split in two – the homogenous corporate product that is spoon-fed to consumers and the diverse independent music that finds devoted fans online and at clubs across the country.” (Rasmussen & Shapter, 2006)

The film throughout demonstrates an uneven balance of power due to the clout held by the biggest commercial record companies.

“What is put at the disposition of the public is what the public hears. And what the public finds itself actually listening to, because it’s offered up, reinforces a certain taste, underlines the limits of a well-defined listening capacity, defines more and more exclusively a schema for listening.” (Boulez & Foucault, 2000 p.165)

The record industry has power over the general publics choice in music, as it controls the distribution of music. The record industry is an industry and as such its inevitable goal is profit. This places value on sales and as such the most salable music is the most valuable. This is no different to the music publishing business.

(International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Online)

Music videos are a later example of technology helping to define an ideology. Of the technology available to consumers, particularly the shift in economic power within middle class teenagers during the 80s: “in this social group television also plays a dominant role in involvement with music” (Wicke, 2000 p.205).

The modern music business today is the synonymous with the record industry. The modern music industry originated in the early twentieth century, reflecting technological advances in the late nineteenth century.

“The music business began to assume its modern form as an unanticipated consequence of the development of recording in the 1880” (Martin, 2000, p256)

Overall recording has changed not just the way music is consumed, but provided the facilities to change how we perceive as music. It has contributed to the development of both new types off music and scenarios for the appreciation of music. Music has changed since the introduction of recording and has given music greater cache within society; recording has revolutionized both music and the sociological environment it influences.

Bibliography

Apple Inc. (n.d.). Apple – iPod Classic – Features. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from Apple Inc.: http://www.apple.com/ipodclassic/features.html

Boulez, P., & Foucault, M. (2000). On Music and its Reception. In D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture and Society (p. 164). Oxford: University Press.

Chew, V. (1967). Talking machines, 1877-1914. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Eisenberg, E. (2000). On Phonography. In D. Scott, & D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture, and Society. Oxford: University Press.

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. (n.d.). The Broader Music Industry. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from International Federation of the Phonographic Industry: http://www.ifpi.org/content/library/the-broader-music-industry.pdf

Lines, T. (2009). Beyond the Moment. BMus 3 – Music in Society.

Martin, P. (2000). On Changing Technology. In D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture and Society (p. 209). Oxford: University Press.

Moore, A. (2000). On the Pop-Classical Split. In D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture and Society (p. 163). Oxford: University Press.

McNulty, B., Rasmussen, J. (Producers), Rasmussen, J., Shapter, A. (Writers), & Shapter, A. (Director). (2006). Before the Music Dies [Motion Picture]. BSide Entertainment.

Scannell, P. (2000). On Music and its Dissemination. In D. Scott, & D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture, and Society. Oxford: University Press.

Schoenberg, A. (1975). Style and Idea. (L. Stein, Ed., & L. Black, Trans.) New York: St Martins.

Taylor, T. (2001). Strange Sounds. New York: Routledge.

Wicke, P. (2000). On the Economics of Popular Music. In D. Scott, & D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture and Society. Oxford: University Press.

Writing for the Bassoon and Contra Bassoon

Bassoon

  • Is in the key of C
  • Written in both the Bass and Tenor Clef
  • It has a small dynamic range
  • (It’s not too loud, but can go quite quietly)
  • F# is a loud note
  • They do use mutes occasionally, but prefer not to.
  • Bb is the lowest note in its range
  • Top E is the highest note in its range
  • If you do use the top notes, you have to slur towards them, you cannot just play high notes. Occasionally you can change crook to make the upper register clearer.
  • Bassoonists like well-shaped phrases
  • When playing the top notes, work your way up to them, and start low
  • The sound of the bassoon is very rich at low range
  • It is important to specify which fingering system you are writing for if you use fingerings or multiphonics. The most common system is the Heckle system.
  • French fingering is different
  • Overblowing produces harmonics in the lower register
  • In the middle register use lots of staccato
  • Bassoonists can double tongue – this is a bit like tremolo for strings, but is very difficult and lots of bassoonists don’t know how to do it. Don’t go to quick, the middle register is the only time this works.
  • Flutter tonguing can be done in the middle register, but is difficult. It is important to leave time before and after flutter tonguing for the bassoonist to change their embouchure.
  • Bassoonists can’t sing and play at the same time
  • Can bend notes in the middle and higher registers. They can bend up to quartertones. Bends should go downwards, not upwards.
  • Trills can be written in as normal
  • Enharmonic trills (same note trills) can be played (but not to quickly)
  • Multiphonics can be used
  • Other instruments have to be very quite in bassoon solo passages
  • Bassoons and flutes go very well together
  • The sound in the upper register is thin

Contrabassoon

  • Is in the key of C
  • Notes sound an octave lower than written
  • Is the lowest sounding instrument in the orchestra
  • Lower than double bass or tuba
  • No Glissando’s
  • No multiphonics
  • Lowest note is Bb
  • Can play notes quietly
  • Requires more time to breathe
  • Prefer to use the lower register
  • Can produce loud notes, but not sustain them
  • The middle register is quite bright in tone
  • The higher register (notes written above middle C) is where the instrument sounds worst
  • It can’t play loudly in the upper register
  • Double tonguing doesn’t work
  • Harmonics can’t be produced
  • Good for legato and staccato
  • There is no high note crook
  • Do not write circular breathing passages – at all. This is very dangerous for the performer.
  • When playing lower notes you have to breathe more often
  • Chromatic slurs can go quite fast in the lower register