Philosophy of the Arts

Royal Conservatory

Philosophical Conversations on Music

How does music mean?

A Kind of Depiction? Would one recognise exactly what is depicted by some piece of music? Try this experiment: Perform a piece of music notable for its pictorial nature, hand out a piece of paper to everyone in the audience, and have them sketch the scene depicted. A translation Perhaps it is a viable thought…

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Jazz and classical music

1. While listening to John Coltrane, this thought came up:jazz musicians play on a favourite instrument. And, sometimes, the instrument they pick does not really connect with them. [Multi-instumentalist Anthony Braxton seems best when playing on a soprano; Coltrane on a tenor sax, etc.]. This is not merely due to an accidental preference on behalf…

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Performers of classical music

Performers of classical music seem better off than pop or jazz musicians, in that in classical music the relevance of the score for the performance is uncontested. You don’t (always) have to invent your means to bring a score to life; in large measure, you must make sure to perform it correctly. Maybe, however, this…

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Timeless or outdated? Some arguments.

1. What kind of property is ‘timeless’ (or its counterpart “outdated”)? It is not a normal, objective property, like ‘loud’, or ‘in D minor’. These latter properties have clear rules of application. Instead “timeless” is a value; ‘is outdated’ is its negative counterpart, also a value. 2. How should we understand this value? Either nominally,…

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When is Philosophy?

The form of the question “When is Philosophy?” is intended. Every philosopher claiming to know what philosophy is will be confronted with others denying it. One thing they may all agree upon is that philosophy is a kind of thinking, but that might not seem very instructive. Beyond that, disagreement may start quickly. For instance,…

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The paradigm of art creation

The model for thinking about the creation of art that we shall be talking about in the next weeks, is this: the artist sees himself or herself confronted with ‘inert’ material, i.e. material that ‘merely exists’ and does not carry any artistic meaning yet. An artist confronts the challenge of making something artistically meaningful with…

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Welcome, musicians!

On the website of Philosophical Conversations. Philosophy for Music Students, you should be able to find all the information needed to successfully finish this course. In fact, the site consists of two separate sites, one for each of its series. This is the present series’s address: First series starting September 2004: The pages you…

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