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Ontology of Music Essay

Recently, the central questions to the ontology of music may like these: What sort of entities are works of music; are they physical objects, ideal kinds, imaginary entities, or something else; how are the various works of music related to the mental states of artists or viewers, to physical objects, or to abstract visual, auditory or linguistic structures and under what conditions do works come into existence, survive, or cease to exist.

It seems that only a few people may have a ready answer to the question of the ontological status of the work of music, some relevant considerations are built into our common sense understanding of works of music and practices in dealing with them. Normally, some scholars may think of works of music as things created at a certain time, in a particular cultural and historical circumstance, through the imaginative and creative acts of a artist, composer, or author.

Once created, it can be reasonable to think that of works of music as relatively stable and enduring public entities that may be seen, heard, or read by a number of different people who may enter legitimate arguments about at least some of the work’s features. While these features characterize our understanding of all sorts of works of music, our understanding and treatment of works of different sorts diverges regarding other features. In this paper, I shall analyze the ontology of music in related to the practices.

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Then I will put forward two conclusions. First, having considered the Platonism, ontology of music is not simply defined as an physical object. Secondly, ontologies of music may be changeable or flexible on the grounds of that they are ‘not separable from the practices of music’ then musical ontology could as human practice. 1 ‘Music as one’s own are objects’ In general, in the human activities, the music is seen as the type of performance, or the composing of work.

Although it may have many copies, or different types, the works of music themselves are cannot be bought or sold as literally as diamonds, pearls, and works of painting and sculpture; instead, performance rights, reproduction rights, or copyrights of the works of music may be sold. Similarly, they also cannot be destroyed2. The only things which can be destructed are their copies or any other substantial things unless it can be clear out from memories. It is an obvious view that the works of music are physical objects. However, they does not be constituted as ontological status of our familiar sticks, stones or pieces of marble.

Arguably, as Collingwood emphasised, a composer may create a work of music merely “in his head”, by imagining the relevant tune, without ever having to write a score or play a note. 3 Thus, its object does not limited within the scope of physical objects. In addition, when we listen to the music, it is quite often for us to invoke our imagination. Therefore, the ontology of music cannot be simply defined as an mere object.

Further, regarding to the philosophy of Platonists, such as Wolterstorff, ‘a composer does is to select a work; he does not create work’. Thus, it is possible to claim that the music has pre-existed. A composer can take their experience into account to select ‘music’ upon his works of music. Then these work will favour of his own, so-called ‘his music’. His music ‘may be accompanies one through a difficult or especially joyous time, it also may be the music one knows best, about which one exhibits a special knowledge or exercises a special control. ‘5 Then his music is distinguish with other’s music. This is because his music have special meanings, which the others does not perceive.

For example, as we normal think, ‘Beethoven’s music is, inter alia, an expression of romanticism and no abstract type pre-dating the foundation of the world can have that expressive character’. 6 Therefore, even so that we have the notation as well as his, but we have never merely apes his works. As Bohalman pointed out, the music of one’s own might provide a tool of resistance, ‘a set of action that one protects against those who don’t possess the same music. ‘7 However, whatever the person he is, a composer or performer, whatever he does deal with music, it is merely the work of interpretation.

Moreover, in some influential articles, some one concludes that music works are display many close similarities to naturally kinds. 8 Then we may constructs the idea that music relates to nature, even music exists in nature. It is often claimed, for instance, that the music itself derives from nature, or inspired by nature: When bird-song is perceived as naturally melodic, and then is representaed by a singer or composer as a melody itself, say among the Kaluli of Papua New Guinea or by Olivier Messiaen in his Catalogue d’oiseaux.

Arguably, this natural sort of entity in a music system is a sound object. A sound object may not sound or be heard unless it is somehow converted into a music object. Therefore, if its natural entity is removed, ‘a sort of ontological fear sets in, a fear that one is no longer really experiencing music’. 10 Then, Nelson Goodman extended the ontology of music. Accordingly, the work of music is the class of performances which comply with a notation. 11 Thus, this approach places a premium on fidelity to the composer’s intentions.

In detail, the conception of music is deeply embedded in how musicians or composer think about their own art. Of course they may also challenge it when it demand ‘painful and revolutionary adjustments’. Although the Goodman’s ontology did not expand out of the justification of performance, it implied the importance of intention of composer, and the music essentially is a recreation. Thus, during the process of recreation or reproduction, music cannot be simply treat a mere object. Music is not purely objective but flexible

As I mentioned before, music itself can be treated as an ‘object’ when it become one’s own. However, it cannot avoid the influence of others. This reason also based upon that ‘my music’ is a result from recreation or reproduction. 12 First, the work music can be embedded in other activities, such as dance, drama, opera or any other else. When it incorporated into others, it become a new form of music, a sort of ontology of music. Then its value does not bound by its original object. Arguably, it also can be ontologically separable from those activities – inscribed on records, anthologized in hymnals.

To become ‘my music’. 13 However, when the ownership was bought or sold, then it may be reproduced, or transferred. Then ‘my music’ may become others’ music. Notwithstanding, even it can be bought or sold, this conduct still based on its ontological concepts. Nonetheless, as Jean Paul Sartre argument, works of music are never ‘real’ objects that can be simply perceived as painted canvasses are, but rather are imaginary entities, since seeing the aesthetic object requires imaginative acts of consciousness,14 thereby the music may not be simply recreated.

Thus this ontology of music still personal. Arguably, the composer also can be affected by various factors, then there may be a self-recreation thereby it may not wholly fail to lead itself to cross-cultural comparison. Furthermore, as previous point that unlike a photograph, ‘a musical work might have no physical object analogous to a photograph’s negative that may serve as the locus of change’. 15 However, the musical works can genuinely change with the passage of time. As Rohrbaugh argued that works of music are temporal entities with a ‘life story’:

They are all subject to change over time, and all, had their life stories gone differently, could have been somewhat different than they in fact are. 16 Arguably, it seems that the musical works are repeatable and they can change with the times of repeat and performance. 17 And the ontology of music upon items in the physical world that they are naturalistic entities rather than occupants of some kind of Platonism. 18 In other words, he denies that musical works fit into any antecedently understood ontological category and offers that the musical should drive new work in metaphysics. 9 There is no doubt that the music is flexible.

However, the arguments of Rohrbaugh lack of persuasive and conviction. As Julian Dodd put: It is quite true, for example, that we commonly describe works as being ‘revised’, but such talk is quite unreflective and, in any case, it is not obvious that we should regard as ‘revised’ work as a work that has changed, as opposed to being a work who composition was derived from study of the original…. That is , we would regard the works as distinct although belonging to the same broader type by virtue of sharing much of the same tonal structure. 0 Thus, they strike me another explanation of the ontology of music that works of music are flexible. In detail, for example, regard to the idea of ‘music alone does not exist’,21 the music could incorporated in the special groups, such as in ancient China, majority of works of music depended on the theories of Confucian with their special knowledge and intelligentsia power. While, in another area, as the music in Euro may involve the considerations of religion and in South India, the works of music belong to high-caste Brahmins. 22 Thus, music also be varied by the communities.

Sometimes, it is not difficult to find that the works of music only exist in one special group or in one community. Then the boundedness of group will limited their boundedness of works of music. However, when the culture expand over the its group, then the music may be expand. Then the ontology of music will be changed. This is also one of the reasons that why the music in difficult communities or nations may have some similar elements. Furthermore, to look upon the musical works, the tempo of the work seems vague, even if a composer specifies a piece’s tempo precisely.

Stephen Davies added that a tempo approximate to this is perfectly acceptable. 23 Nonetheless, this tempo may enable the work may to have different performances. Refer to the point of interpretations of composer, then the performer does the same job as them, to interpret the works of music. Therefore the music may have a few change between two different performance.

This change could be refer to the work of flexible. In other words, music is flexible. Whilst, the idea of imagination also implies that the works of music may be also different, depend on something in the mind. Collingwood’s view, as he admits, entails that works of music cannot be heard, nor paintings seen, since imaginative activities cannot be perceived; and both views make it extremely difficult to see how one and the same work of art could be experienced and discussed by many different people, since each would seem to be engaged in her own imaginative activities and experiencing her own imaginary objects. ’24 However, the Platonist theories of music’ ontologies may have different approach. ‘Firstly, it concerns with the materials of music, hen the acts performed upon there by a composer or agent of creation.

Secondly, they also seek to explain the existence of musical works – in other words, pieces that obtain and retain their own identity’. 25 It prima facie seems to me that the first point may sophisticatedly fit my approach that the music is flexible. Whereas the second one express that the music retain their own. In fact, it could be said that the works of music are waiting to be discovered, then the human can bring it and make it as well as reification. As Neoplatonists’ claim, the identity of a musical work may be increasingly embedded in itself.

In addition, the music may be ontologically dependent on time, particular in performance. Australian Aborgines have imagined that the memory is fundamental to the connections through time to the past into the ontology of music. Accordingly:26 The ontological presence of music in time and outside time makes it possible to remember the past and imagine the future, to cross the boundaries between narratives experienced and those transposed on to other beings, and to embed music in cognitive and spiritual processes of knowing experiences and worlds other than one’s won.

Therefore, the ontology of music seems to be not comply with the intentions of performers. Rohrbaugh’s arguments are based on the temporality. 27 I. e. the musical works are temporally flexible. In other words, his claim could be said that the music is capable of being destroyed. 28 This point was argued by Jerrold Levinson, according to the ideal of ‘the residual pull’ of the works of music, the works once are created, last forever. 29 Arguably, the pieces of works do not purely exist as an physical object, thus it is hard to say it can be destroyed.

Moreover, there is another approach also show that the music may be flexible. This is point can be refer to the circumstances where the notated score is lost or if an orally transmitted work is forgotten. Then the post-composer or performer will attempt to interpret as their own ways. Thus, the performances of music may differ with the human intentions or activities. Thus taking seriously the view that there are works of music, and that their ontological status is determined by central beliefs and practices regarding them.

In addition, works of music seem to depend for their existence on certain human intentional states without being identifiable either with the imaginary creations of individual minds or with physical objects. It is reasonable to believe, in the part of determination the works of music, the human experience play a great role in this proceeding. For example, not only seeking to examine one’s own music or others’ music, but also referring to the music in one community or in others’ communities, all of these are relating to the human activities, then the ontology of music may depends on the ordinary of these.

Furthermore, when we look at the works of music in the performance, all of these also relate to the human experience, require them have special knowledge or other else. Therefore it would reasonable to think that the music does not exist if it is alone, even though the music work may independently exists. Conclusion The music cannot be simply treat as an ‘object’. In fact, it is not a purely physical object as painting or some purely substantial things else. This is because, it can be exist even though it has been physically destroyed.

It cannot be transferred physically, such as the intentions of human activities or composers, it could not be aped wholly. It is claimed that works of music not only reside in the physical and the everyday, but also in the beautiful and spiritual past histories and myths about the future. 30 Most importantly, ‘unlike the platonist’s abstracta, works of music do not exist independently; they can only come into existence through forms of human intentionality, and even once created, they are not independent and eternal, but depend for their ongoing existence on that of some copy or performance, or the means for creating one’. 1 The ontology of music of concept itself are complex and multiple. This is because, the embeddedness of music may be varied, such as time, cultures, space, performance or special experiences, although such actions may not directly affect. The music are always in the stages of recreations or reproductions. Thus, ontologies of music moves beyond the works of music themselves.

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