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Subject: 'Alien To Your Taste'?
From: Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 8 Jun 2017 22:56:49 -0400

text/plain (67 lines)

This is from the introduction to "Music and Humanism, An Essay in The
Aesthetics of Music" (Oxford University Press) by Robert Sharpe.


If music is for you, as it is for me, a serious passion, then from time to
time you will probably have been confronted with this problem:

1) How do you distinguish between what is alien to your taste and what is

2) Furthermore, how do you tell what music merely demands extra time and
hard work in order to appreciate it and what music is not worth the effort,
either because it is music which is technically competent but dead, or
because it is music which is good but which will never appeal to you?

I have also been exercised by the dictatorial nature of my own taste. I
cannot see anything but crudity in the famous counterpoint in the "Die
Meistersinger" prelude. The Liszt piano concertos strike me as commonplace
in ideas and invention. On the other hand, that any music lover could not
worship Berlioz seems to me astounding. I am not thinking of music which
once moved me but does so no longer, such as the Brahms symphonies (with
the exception of the second), I am thinking of music that has generally
left me cold -- for example, nearly all of Handel. This is music, like the
operas of Wagner, which is of the highest quality, but music which I fail
to appreciate. Am I so entrenched in my taste that I cannot give a fair
hearing to this? Was I born a devotee of Bach rather than Handel?

Any reader will be able to find examples from his or her own taste. Are
such differences primitive, irresolvable, like basic differences in
sensitivity to others? Or are they merely the result of adventitious
differences in circumstance and upbringing, of associations and ideology,
bearing on a taste which is initially unformed and uniform and which, left
to itself, would enable us to admire the best in everything?,204,203,200_.jpg


First, I don't understand why he substitutes "taste" for like/dislike. We don't
talk about something being "alien" to our taste either (at least I've never
heard that usage). One doesn't ordinarily have a taste for this or that
passage but for whole works or genres. That's the main conceptual mistake
he makes. Sure one can "love every note" of one work and only like parts of
another. Or there are gradations in which one might like a work but find
that some part of it is "inspired" whereas another part is 'pedestrian',
etc... I don't think "taste" as applied to music lends itself to
quantification, in contrast to wine connoisseurship.

These analytic philosophers - especially those associated with Roger
Scruton at Birkbeck College - should stop trying to pontificate on
music.... They are usually very bad at it. LOL.

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