James Tobin wrote:
>>...does one need to know about some aesthetic to judge music or should
>>the music be judged on its own terms? It seems to me that good music
>>defines its own aesthetic.
>I guess I can say yes to all of this! But the trick for the listener
>is understanding just what the music's "own terms" or its "own aesthetic"
>is. That's not always evident, especially if it is different from what
>you already know or if it departs from a familiar tradition. Surely it
>is possible for an articulate composer to help us out verbally in such
If a composer tries to help us out, what should they tell us?
I think of the "Tristan" chord. It seems to my ears to be a natural
progression, but then I have often heard augmented sixth chords...I am
reminded of a class exercise where we had to write a "conventional"
resolution to that phrase of music...I still remember how we all
laughed...you would have to have been there and been a theory nerd to
find the humor. But what could Wagner have told us that might have
helped us to understand better his use of that chord and his "resolution"
One of the best hints I think I ever got from a composer came from a
message Ives wrote on the margin of one of pieces. The message was to
his copyist...it was something like, "the wrong notes are right, please
don't correct them."