April 15, 2018 at 10:22pm

Should only technically-challenging pieces be deemed as being aesthetic? The following is a good read:

of 13
Goh Zensen

I think I did post it here (via another thread). Once I've done the recording with our local soprano Karen Aw, I will post the entire video clip on Youtube (public domain).

May 30, 2018 at 8:30am
Gavin Koh

The Search function on the forums here is non-existent. You have to do it via Google. The link that Zensen mentions is this:... See More

The Search function on the forums here is non-existent. You have to do it via Google. The link that Zensen mentions is this: https://www.thepiano.sg/discussion/post/2017/11/29/1469-1511955896-275

May 30, 2018 at 9:05am
Michael LS

Thanks for link. Looking fwd to the recording Zensen mentioned.

May 30, 2018 at 11:01am
Goh Zensen

Thanks, Gavin!

May 31, 2018 at 8:59am
November 21, 2017 at 9:49pm

Music as art? Will Synthesia redefine music for the modern era?

Imagine a piano piece embellished with more than 100,000 notes for art's sake. Can we play it? No. But a computer sure can!

Here is a Christmas Black MIDI piece for you. BLACK because if you were to print out the score, you'd smear the whole paper black with the "thousands of" (or sometimes "millions of") notes.

Is this visual artistry perhaps just a passing phase?

... See More

Music as art? Will Synthesia redefine music for the modern era?

Imagine a piano piece embellished with more than 100,000 notes for art's sake. Can we play it? No. But a computer sure can!

Here is a Christmas Black MIDI piece for you. BLACK because if you were to print out the score, you'd smear the whole paper black with the "thousands of" (or sometimes "millions of") notes.

Is this visual artistry perhaps just a passing phase?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5l3557hyp4

of 6
Gavin Koh

To achieve the snowflakes effect you see in the video, you only need to copy and paste a group of notes resembling a single snowflake. To displace the snowflakes across the horizontal axis, you... See More

To achieve the snowflakes effect you see in the video, you only need to copy and paste a group of notes resembling a single snowflake. To displace the snowflakes across the horizontal axis, you only need to transpose these groups.

November 23, 2017 at 11:44pm
Mabel Ong

I can't keep up with the everything flying here and there. Lol! Who in the world has the time to make this kind of song?! ?

November 29, 2017 at 9:42pm
Gavin Koh

I am hoping it will be Generation Z, Alpha Generation and beyond, who will take any form of music and make it into a visual spectacle.

November 29, 2017 at 9:56pm
Michael LS

What did I just see!? ?

January 15, 2018 at 5:56pm
April 21, 2017 at 11:54am

Let's discuss another highly divided topic in Music Aesthetics. In order for a piece of music to be regarded as highly aesthetic/beautiful (好听/优美 in Chinese), does it need to be infusing advanced music concepts or elements (please note that it isn't about being technically challenging such as having to run very fast passages, etc.), such as the use of advanced chords (over and above the basic ones), the deployment of good modulations and counterpoints, or the utilization of sophisticated... See More

Let's discuss another highly divided topic in Music Aesthetics. In order for a piece of music to be regarded as highly aesthetic/beautiful (好听/优美 in Chinese), does it need to be infusing advanced music concepts or elements (please note that it isn't about being technically challenging such as having to run very fast passages, etc.), such as the use of advanced chords (over and above the basic ones), the deployment of good modulations and counterpoints, or the utilization of sophisticated rhythms?

In other words, can very simple pieces (say only using three basic chords like I, IV & V) using the straightforward diatonic scale (and 4/4 time signature) without having any modulations can sound as nice and superior as those above?

of 2
Tea Zhi Yuan

Hi Zensen:) Really enjoyed your post. My own belief is that simplicity is its own beauty and and piece (or song) doesnt require all the complex rhythms, not-so-commonly-used chords etc etc. I seem... See More

Hi Zensen:) Really enjoyed your post. My own belief is that simplicity is its own beauty and and piece (or song) doesnt require all the complex rhythms, not-so-commonly-used chords etc etc. I seem to prefer a clear, "pure", and accessible melodic line and accompaniment rather than one with complex devices. I think that a perfect example of "simple yet beautiful" music is Mozart's music. The melodic lines of his works are clear and accessible (for sure) but yet this is something alluring in his music to the point it almost mysterious! Allow me to quote pianost Artur Schnabel who once explaimed:" Mozart's sonatas are too easy for children, too difficult for (serious) artists"

April 30, 2017 at 6:26pm
Goh Zensen

Hi Zhi Yuan, I'm glad to hear your viewpoints on this! Proponents of your school of thought also cite traditional folk music which are so simple and yet so beautiful! For example, who doesn't like... See More

Hi Zhi Yuan, I'm glad to hear your viewpoints on this! Proponents of your school of thought also cite traditional folk music which are so simple and yet so beautiful! For example, who doesn't like Home on the Range?

May 1, 2017 at 12:49am
April 17, 2017 at 8:56am

While most people would ignore the following "contrasting videos", Dr Eugene, the Head of the Music Department at the National Institute of Education (NIE) was most intrigued by it! Would like to hear your comments, please!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qanSwhxhPKs

April 15, 2017 at 10:45pm

What makes one piece of music "beautiful", "captivating", "catchy", "moving", "memorable" etc, but not another piece of music?

(Pop music composers often talk about this "musical hook" that makes a song captivating .)

How does the mind decide what's a musical hit and what isn't?

of 13
Corrine Ying

But I am still interested to hear about the quantitative method that Zensen spoke about.

April 16, 2017 at 1:26pm
Goh Zensen

Pardon me; as I've been reminded by my Master Trainers and potential investors about this; it is better that I run through all the various schools of thoughts in determining aesthetic quality via... See More

Pardon me; as I've been reminded by my Master Trainers and potential investors about this; it is better that I run through all the various schools of thoughts in determining aesthetic quality via my talk.

But in order not to whet your appetite too much, I will share the 4th school here, which is easier, reserving the 2nd school (quantitative method) at the talk, since it is rather sophisticated, requiring graphs and diagrams, etc.

The 4th school of thought hinges on the notion of nostalgia. There has been extensive research done on this field: Generally, people tend to like music that they listen to a lot during their late teens to young adulthood (20s), thereby finding these songs highly aesthetic. For example, my mum would feel pop songs in the 50s and 60s very appealing and beautiful, while those in my generation (80s and 90s) are no good. Interestingly, by the same token, I will have the tendency to find pop music in the 80s and 90s to be superior, and current hits are degenerating. Teens will feel otherwise!

The researchers attribute this to the phenomenon that during teenage and young adulthood period, we are most impressionistic about the music media we expose to, attaching lots of sentimental values to them, etc. However, as we grow older, many of us will be focusing more on developing our career, starting a family, etc. leading to the situation whereby we listen less to popular music thus feeling less receptive to the "new culture" or style.

There are several implications for this school of thought. For example, if we are organising a concert meant to let our audience indulge and enjoy the pieces, and if we know our audience are all around the age group of 70s and 80s, then probably we will choose our repertoire of oldies in the 50s and 60s (instead of say in the 80s).

April 16, 2017 at 11:52pm
Goh Zensen

So Corrine is right at the micro-level sense. But once we extend it to the macro-level, it will be a case of being beyond Person's A subjectivity vs Person B's subjectivity. Case in point: I am... See More

So Corrine is right at the micro-level sense. But once we extend it to the macro-level, it will be a case of being beyond Person's A subjectivity vs Person B's subjectivity. Case in point: I am about to go overseas (together with a team of others) for an exchange programme at their music fraternity. And I am supposed to select a few pieces of Singaporean works that are aesthetic to perform there, so that it will well represent the cultural superiority of Singapore.

What should govern my choices? If I simply go by my personal subjectivity, that's it. It will ruin everything. Why? For example, I personally don't like the melody of Home, but this will probably go into my repertoire because of several reasons (taking into consideration on other schools of thoughts in determining aesthetics beyond my personal subjectivity).

Thus the discipline or study of Music Aesthetics has widespread practical applications. It doesn't stop at personal subjectivity differences. It goes into factors that shape mankind's individual subjectivity (one of which is nostalgia).

April 16, 2017 at 9:27pm
Chris Khoo

Amazing!

April 16, 2017 at 10:22pm
April 9, 2017 at 5:32pm

Many have asked me to unpack the meaning of "music appreciation". When someone asks you, "Are you able to appreciate this piece/genre of music?", what exact does that mean?

Music appreciation has different levels:

First Level: I like that music / enjoy listening to it but I can't explain why.

Second Level: I like that music / enjoy listening to it but I can only explain why I like it in non-musical (layman's) terms.

Third Level: I like that music / enjoy... See More

Many have asked me to unpack the meaning of "music appreciation". When someone asks you, "Are you able to appreciate this piece/genre of music?", what exact does that mean?

Music appreciation has different levels:

First Level: I like that music / enjoy listening to it but I can't explain why.

Second Level: I like that music / enjoy listening to it but I can only explain why I like it in non-musical (layman's) terms.

Third Level: I like that music / enjoy listening to it and I can decipher/analyse why I like it by relating it using music concepts and terms.

Fourth Level: Not only am I of the above (3rd Level), I can also play it if a score is given.

Fifth Level: Not only am I of the above (4th Level), I can also play it by sight-reading and also by ear.

Sixth Level: Not only am I of the above (5th Level), I can also play it by improvising it so that it adopts the style of another genre.

(Source: My synthesis of Reimer's Aesthetics Philosophy, Elliot's Praxial Philosophy & Revised Bloom's Taxonomy)

of 4
Sng Yong Meng

Classically trained pianists who learn mainly by reading scores might challenge the order of level 4 and level 5, which of course is another highly debatable topic of its own. Any thoughts?

April 11, 2017 at 6:15am
Goh Zensen

There are two parts to this. First, the defined Level 5 here is not just having the ability to play-by-ear. It refers to those who can sight-read PLUS possessing the play-by-ear ability (dual... See More

There are two parts to this. First, the defined Level 5 here is not just having the ability to play-by-ear. It refers to those who can sight-read PLUS possessing the play-by-ear ability (dual skills). In other words, they are progressive in nature. Incidentally, and statistically speaking, there are indeed more who are able to sight-read than those who are able to play-by-ear, thus portraying the right pyramid structure.

Second, according to the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy, playing-by-ear is a higher -order thinking skill-set because while a computer can play out a piece of music when a MIDI score is fed onto it, it lacks the ability to play-by-ear (relative pitch, not absolute pitch because the former requires musicality while the latter does not). It is akin to newsreaders who can read a passage extremely well (with good diction and intonation) but are unable to speak well in the impromptu/off-the-cuff sense (when relating an incident).

April 11, 2017 at 9:18am
Chris Khoo

I agree with Yong Meng. For those who can play by ear, most of the time it's pretty effortless (it's an innate talent which can be cultivated further I believe ), whereas playing by score often... See More

I agree with Yong Meng. For those who can play by ear, most of the time it's pretty effortless (it's an innate talent which can be cultivated further I believe ), whereas playing by score often takes hard work and concentration (unless of course you can sight read effortlessly :)

April 11, 2017 at 9:18am
Chris Khoo

There are those who can't read music notes but can play a piece by ear even better than one who can read the score !

April 11, 2017 at 9:19am
April 5, 2017 at 7:38pm

I've just listened to an atonal work. To summarise it in two words, I would use the acronym, "Organised Mess". Please note this has nothing to do with its superiority, beauty or aesthetic level.

of 7
Goh Zensen

"The Clothed Woman" does have tonal sections!

April 5, 2017 at 9:13pm
Wenqing

Like schoenbergish atonal?

April 5, 2017 at 9:43pm
Sng Yong Meng

Lol, Zensen's baby piano is a Schoenberg! Ok, I sidetracked. =D

April 7, 2017 at 1:46pm
Goh Zensen

Haha, Yong Meng, you do have a photographic memory!

April 7, 2017 at 3:10pm
March 27, 2017 at 9:18am

Do music need to be technically challenging in order to be superior or aesthetic? This is a highly divided issue in Music Aesthetics. Would like to hear your views and rationale!

of 8
Goh Zensen

Expressions or interpretations aside, pianists who can run fast passages skilfully (with precise notes and precise rhythm/duration) may perceive that they can play both fast pieces and slow music... See More

Expressions or interpretations aside, pianists who can run fast passages skilfully (with precise notes and precise rhythm/duration) may perceive that they can play both fast pieces and slow music with similar precision/accuracy. But others who have difficulty playing fast passages can only play slower works. Thus their argument might be: A sports car can be faster than a regular car, but it can be as slow as a ergular car too, if it wants to be. But a regular car can never be as a fast as a sports car.

March 27, 2017 at 8:12pm
Goh Zensen

In fact we are dwelling into a topic that encroaches into social-politics. How do we comfort or encourage someone (who has the aspiration to be a doctor and has been working hard towards it... See More

In fact we are dwelling into a topic that encroaches into social-politics. How do we comfort or encourage someone (who has the aspiration to be a doctor and has been working hard towards it throughout his life) who is janitor, because he failed to make it to becoming a doctor or any other white-collar professions? By the same token, we know of several instrumentalist-aspirants who have been learning to master the playing of piano for decades but they can never reach the technically-challenging levels required of most classical piano concertos. What should we be telling this person?

Verdi, as we know him, is one of the greatest composers, especially in writing Opera music. But did you know that he was very poor in playing the piano? But his music works are supreme! Which explains I don't agree with Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, which sees Musical Intelligence as one unique factor in mankind. My point here is: While someone is excellent as an instrumentalist but poor at composing, other are the opposite.

March 27, 2017 at 8:31pm
Corrine Ying

Zensen: In terms of performing ability, there are more objective methods to measure this. However, if we're talking about composing ability, like what you said, it's a different matter altogether... See More

Zensen: In terms of performing ability, there are more objective methods to measure this. However, if we're talking about composing ability, like what you said, it's a different matter altogether. That is why, very few child prodigies grow up to become geniuses who change the world. Because while these prodigies are excellent at playing music or are very knowledgeable in whatever field they're in, they rarely produce anything original.

I am neither a concert pianist nor a composer, but I don't consider myself a failed musician because, my mission is to spread the lifelong love of piano music to others, and that's enough meaning and purpose for me.

March 30, 2017 at 1:13am
Goh Zensen

Corrine, well said! If you trust my musical judgement, your performance standard is on par with concert pianists'!

March 30, 2017 at 1:15am