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Musical Universalism a cross cultural dissection.

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1 Musical Universalism a cross cultural dissection

2 What is Universalism? “The single harmony produced by all the heavenly bodies singing and dancing together springs from one source and ends by achieving one purpose, and has rightly bestowed the name not of ‘disordered’ but of ‘ordered universe’ upon the whole” –Aristotle (399 a DE MUNDO) Musical Implications- the interconnectivity of different styles spanning across cultural and temporal realms of influence. As opposed to… Cultural Relativism- the argument that not all music can be interconnected; that certain musical styles can arise simultaneously, free of direct influence “The world is everything, that is the case” (Wittgenstein, I)

3 Genre VS. Styles Musical Genres- “Vague labels used as pigeon-holing techniques to sell a musical product to mindless consumers.” (Meadows)- i.e. Adult Contemporary, Top 40 Musical Styles- Particular sounds and idioms that are evocative of a larger musical framework. i.e. Jazz, Hip Hop, Baroque Music Why is it important to make the distinction? Genres within Western art music imply an empirical separation by means of ensemble. i.e. String Quartet, Choral works, Symphonies Styles suggest both taxonomical and influential advantages, allowing for the generation of new styles as well a preservation of the old. Ex. Jazz-Fusion/ Traditional Jazz duality

4 as a Historical Model Wagner’s Essay, Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1851), seeks to find the pinnacle of artistic expression- a synergy of dance, music, and poetry. German Linguist-philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein writes “Every artist has been influenced by others and shows traces of that influence in his works; but his significance for us is nothing but his personality” (23e) Emancipation of Dissonance- Introduction of non-western sounds and scales. Debussy begins to incorporates Javanese Gamelan while Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (1913) fuses folk song, complex rhythmic structure, polytonality, and dance. The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club (1967) uses the LP genre to conceptualize a unique Identity wherein the band is free to explore a vast diversity of musical styles. Included are Classical, the Avant-garde, British Music Hall, Rock, and Carnatic Indian music.

5 Identities and Universals “Objects make up the substance of the world. That is why they cannot be composite.” (Wittgenstein, 2.021) If an artist is to be truly universal, then he must have many identities to encompass the span of the artistic realm. Paul McCartney- Mastermind behind “Sgt. Pepper’s” concept. Continually uses nom de plumes as a means of branching out musically. Influenced in London Avant-Garde circles by John Cage, Stockhausen, and Cornelius Cardew (Peel, 33) Percy Thrillington (Free Jazz) The Fireman (Electronica & Dub)

6 as a Compositional Framework “The most important thing in art is THE FRAME. For painting: literally; for other arts: figuratively- because, without this humble appliance, you can’t know where The Art stops and The Real World begins.” (Zappa, 140) This notion of framing creates a universal dichotomy wherein every thing can either be labeled “art” or merely exist outside of the artistic realm As a composer, the use of framework has allowed to put into perspective the importance of making a true artistic statement, drawing from whatever influences are necessary to make said statement

7 Particular Manifestations Indian “Tihai” or transitory cadence has found parallels in nearly all strains of western music. WAM- growth via crescendo and accelerando leading into coda sections “Beat drop” in dub step as a larger cultural phenomena Busdriver’s “Imaginary Places”- also samples Bach’s Flute Solo from Orchestral Suite no. 2, Badineire

8 Universalism and Physiology The Pentatonic Scale is present in all cultures in one permutation or another Szabolcsi divides pentatonic material into two groups… Anhemitonic (without semitones) Hemitonic (with semitones) He also accounts for a third type which equally divides the octave, called a “distance scale” which can be traced back to Chinese and Hindu sources

9 cont. Five notes equally divided among the octave raise the question of the Third-Second Nucleus which argues, “that in rudimentary scales throughout the world, the succession of whole tone and minor third [or visa versa]… occur most frequently.” (Reinhard, 15) Explains that the minor third is the first interval above tonic in which feelings of “light” or “dark” can be expressed. “The minor third is also important in pre musical utterance: it is most noticeable in the cries of children and even of adults, which are onlu just removed from the realm of speech.” (Reinhard, 17) Conversely, a recent study has shown that major thirds were more common with regards to mother-infant interaction (Infant Behavior & Development; Vol. 33, Issue 4)

10 “15 mothers and their three month old infants during 5 min of free play in a laboratory setting. 558 vocal exchanges were analyzed, of which 84% reflected harmonic or pentatonic series.” (Infant Behavior & Development) “Vocalizations based on harmonic series appeared organized around the major triad, containing significantly more simple frequency ratios (octave, fifth and third) than complex ones (non-major triad tones)” (Infant Behavior & Development) “The octave, as it forms the boundary for scales cross –culturally, has been labeled as the focal point in cross-cultural music.” (Meyer, 1956, pp. 63, 231) Fig. 2-2

11 Sensory Universalism Described as synesthesia, or a cross-feed of sensory information. i.e. hearing a chord as a distinct color. “Synesthesia seems to go with an unusual degree of cross-activation between what, in most of us, are functionally independent areas of the sensory cortex- such cross-activation could be based on an anatomical excess of neural connections between different areas of the brain.” (Sacks, 193) The importance of synesthesia is that now we have neurological links to help fill the gap between art and our perceived notion of beauty. Can help fuel both art and research. (Synergy between arts, sciences and commerce.)

12 Postmodern Thought and Universals Following World War II (1946)- writers began responding to the massive growth of both information and population. Idea of Zeitgeist, which has opened up universals to a four- dimensional temporal realm in which any and all material is able to be drawn from. (Hip hop- Sampling and remixes) Notion that moving forward requires looking back. Stevie Wonder “Living for the City” Bridge theme orchestrated to fit the style of a Straussian tone poem.

13 Universalism and its Purpose The universalists framework is important to realize because it gives us as creators, databases from which endless possibilities of new art can be formed. The main purpose of universalism is to better understand the working of our world and how art can be a manifestation of a combined global culture.

14 Works Cited Greek text: Aristotelis Metaphysica. Ed. Werner Jaeger. Oxford Classical Texts. Oxford University press, Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1921) Tractatus Logico-Philisophocus, trans. C. K. Ogden (1922) revised by Wittgenstein. Dover reprint, 1999 Mineola, NY. Lavender, Zac (2013) Interview with Josh Meadows ( ) March 28 th. Wittgenstein, Ludwig Culture and Value, trans. Peter Winch (1980) The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Peel, Ian (2002) The Unknown Paul McCartney: McCartney and the Avant- Garde. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. Richmond, Surrey. Zappa, Frank & Occhiogrosso, Peter (1989) The Real Frank Zappa Book. Touchstone ed New York, NY. Szabolcsi, Bence Acta Musicologica Vol. 15, Fasc. ¼ (Jan. – Dec., 1943), International Musicological Society Reinhard, Kurt Journal of the International Folk Music Council Vol. 10, (1958) International Council for Traditional Music

15 Van Puyvelde, M., Vanfleteren, P., Loots, G., Deschuyffeleer, S., Vinck, B., Jacquet, W., Verhelst, W. “Tonal synchrony in mother-infant interaction based on harmonic and pentatonic series.” Infant Behavior and Development, Volume 33, Issue 4, Dec Meyer, Leonard (1956) Emotion and Meaning in Music, Pub. Feb, 15 th 1961, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN-10: Sacks, Oliver (2008) Musicophilia, Pub: Vintage Books, Random House, Inc. New York, NY. Vintage ISBN:


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