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Music Unbound - Forum







Resuscitating Art Music (NARAS Journal), John Steinmetz

Subject: Re: Defining Art Music

As Dan Krimm's comments suggest it is quite a tricky problem to define Art Music.

I would suggest that the problems are more fundamental than Dan suggests, and it is trying to define what Art is that is at the root of the problem.

People have long been trying to define what is and is not art, and ultimately the only definition that can really be said to apply to all of its forms is something that has had work put into it that has a meaning for someone. This is not the best way that this idea has ever been phrased, but hopefully any readers will understand what I mean.

If one takes the point of view that any work that has a meaning for anyone else is 'Art', then one also finds oneself resting in the 'Reader as Author' position, where it simply the fact that whatever the audience takes something to mean is at least as important as what the author meant the work to be.

Put back in context, I feel that John Steinmetz's definition works, as long as the idea that 'music that has to be paid attention to' is never going to be universal. If I listen to a pop-record (or even a piece of Muzak heard in a lift!), that for my own reasons gives me a space to reflect on my life and its meaning, then that record is a piece of art work - FOR ME - but does not have to be for anyone else.

Essentially I feel that both John and Dan are right, they just needed to bring their ideas together.


-- Pete Otaqui
posted 2/6/99