Re: How To Evaluate-Judge-Quantify

Philly the Kid (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 19:25:03 -0500

>The whole purpose of music creation or any creation is to try to produce
>something worthwhile and beautiful, whether it's mainstream,
>contemporary, experimental, etc. The purpose should not be to produce
>music according to the rules of some "academy" or "school." In this
>regard, we shouldn't care who it comes from.

Whoaaa..hold on a sec there Larry -- a lot of heavy assumptions being
thrown out there...:-) "Worhtwhile and Beautiful" hmm...those sure seem
like pretty loaded and subjective terms. Could you start by trying to
define them as they exist for you? And could you explain why you value such

>Whatever you do and however you listen, so long as you are trying in
>some way to forward beauty and a better world for yourself, you are
>doing a good thing.

This does sound rather noble but is this the only reason to create musci or
art, to better the world and make beauty? What about artists who see the
world differently and are trying to not make beauty, is all self-indulgent
art unworthwhile and are all self-absorbed artists who may be creating NOT
to further the progress of mankind or better the world but merely for
catharsis or to indulge in exhibitionism not doing a good thing...?

But having said that, it is critical that education,
>in the real purpose of that word, shouldn't be looked down on. Quite the
>opposite. By education, I mean a grounding and knowledge of the subject,
>an openness to the new and the ability to create, partly based on that
>knowledge. Education certainly should not mean a pedantic and inflexible
>adherence to some formula, set of rules or school of composing and
>performing. One of the major problems in this country is a combination
>of contempt for "education" and lack thereof. One result, for example,
>and there are many other, all bad, is ridiculously low pay and status
>for people who take our youth in their hands.

Does education only take place in a formal setting with codified materials?

I have taught highschool - Music class. I often had students who couldnt'
read a ntoe, or play a note, nor could they read and write in English too
well...but they could tell great detail and subtle differences within
certain musical styles - say Hip Hop from Oaklnad vs. Hip Hop from
SF...have they found another means to educate themself in this regard? Some
of them can express the knowledge and some can only recognize the
differences or sameness. When they discuss good and bad it isn't arbitrary
- they know exaclty why and what it means. Now it is also true that i had
great difficulty pointing out these phenemona to them in concrete terms let
alone getting them to apply said s;ef awarenss and critical skills to other
forms and styles...

At the start of my 2nd year teaching I told tham that there were two things
i had observed and wanted to address. 1) to deal with music and to
extrapolate anything requiring attention, that lasted longer than 3-5
minutes. And 2) to deal with music that was not pulse driven or motoric or
metricly patterned. This was no easy feat. I found them uncomfrotable -
they had to frame of reference. They would try harder if I could paint a
colorful descriptive set up and it helped with those who tried if I could
give them some things to listen for. Mostly they needed to try to compare
such foreign music to something anything - whether it was a video game or

Basically they had little patience and in one case - the poor 15 year old
girl just jumped out of her seat and said she couldn't take it anymore! "No
offense but I gotta get out of here!" This was both funny painful and
puzzling to me.

Now what i have similarly observed, is that those who feel cultured and
educated and let's say also can make some distinctions with European
Classical, feel just as alienated with popular forms and often tend to
dismiss them as insophisticated. Well, what you aren't familiar with - may
be hard to understand and what YOu hear maybe different with what someone
else who is familiar hears?


>While the "level" of one's formal education in music shouldn't determine
>whether one listens or creates, or our reaction to such creation, what
>does matter is what one does with what one has. In that regard, an
>education, in the best sense of that word, is a good thing.
>Larry Hewes