Monday, December 17, 2012

It's deadline day, and no one has submitted a paper yet. I'm just saying, that's all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Yesterday, we listened to a bit of Miles Davis's "If I Were a Bell" from Live at the Plugged Nickel. Many people who are unversed in late post-bop, will claim that "it all sounds the same" while others will be able to recognize aesthetic variation in performances from the genre. I just Youtubed some Dillinger Escape Plan, which many might find inaccessible, although I must admit that it seemed poppy to me. I did like the video of "Milk Lizard."

So, let's go to music that is really on the edge. Person 1 is familiar with a certain genre or style, while person 2 isn't. Think about their respective phenomenologies. In general, for instance, will person 1 be able to attribute a full range of aesthetic qualities to the genre in question? Can there be (relatively) lyrical and serene death metal? Does person 1 have to know or even be aware of more facts than Person 2 while listening? What does "Getting it" involve? I'm just throwing off some ideas here, but I am really interested in questions like this. Any thoughts? Any other potentially relevant questions?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012



DUE: MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2012, but feel free to hand in your paper earlier so that I can get a head-start on the grading.

LENGTH: Feel free to make this paper a bit longer than six pages, especially if you haven’t written a longer paper yet. However, never ramble and never lose track of where you are, where you’ve been and where you want to go. Also please remember that my eyes glaze over when I encounter spaghetti structure and/or a parade of cryptic sentences. Chris’s eyes never glaze over, so save the horrible papers for him. 

TOPICS: Those of you who are comfortable to do so may write  on any topic that we’ve discussed this term, especially if it’s one of the topics we’ve discussed in the last few weeks. For those who would like a bit more guidance, here are some suggestions.

1) Tillman’s endurantism. Find a problem and see if it can be solved.

2) Kania’s Ontology of rock music as presented in “Making Tracks”. Find a problem and see if it can be solved. When I think about Kania’s theory I keep coming back to 1)  the nature and centrality for his position of the concept of manifestation and to 2) his account of covers. In addition, I worry about the analogy he draws between film remakes and  cover versions.

3) We really haven’t talked much of the ontology of songs. Kania discusses songs and their relations to tracks. According to Kania, the central works of rock music are tracks, not songs. You could explore a specific or a general question. An example of a specific question would be this: do Kania’s arguments against songs as works succeed? An example of a general question would be this: what are songs? How are they individuated? What is their role and centrality to an ontology of music? Of course, the general question  is huge. It constitutes an extended program of research. A paper on it would have to be pretty long and even then you’d only be making the first few moves in a treatment of the topic. Nevertheless, I find the topic to be fascinating.

4) Take a look at Kania’s refutation of Young and Matheson in “All work and No Play.” SAVE JIM AND CARL!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Musical Materialism

I thought I'd post a link to 'Musical Materialism' and also a paper I wrote with Joshua Spencer, 'Musical Materialism and the Inheritance Problem' (it's short) since the plan is to start with some of that stuff for next time. The papers can be found here: (I believe library access is required to get to them.) Please bring questions, comments, objections or new arguments in favor (one can hope!) for next time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love and Music

This post probably would have been more helpful a month ago... Levinson explores the relationship between music and love. For those of you who love PhilBites like I do:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alterenate second paper topic


Next week, we'll discuss Levinson's performance means criterion as laid out in section III of  What a Musical Work Is.". Take a look at his discussion of Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata in subsection (a) of section III. Then look at Kivy's criticism of Levinson on the Hammerklavier, p. 88-90 of "Orchestrating Platonism," and Levinson's reply to Kivy on p. 240-241 of "What a Musical Work is Again." I want us to come up with a good recap of the exchange.

Now, here's a paper topic that comes out of the discussion we'll have. If you're wrirting on fine individuation, you don't have to write on this.:

Levinson's Hammerklavier argument for the performance means criterion commits him to the position that any performance of the Hammerklavier is on a historically accurate fortepiano (and not on the piano). Discuss, with attention to the exchange between Kivy and Levinson on Hammerklavier.

Try to be as concise as possible. Stick to the point. Use quotations to show that you've intepreted L and K correctly. Feel free to use our discussion of the topic in class. Due Friday November 24.