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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Progressive Music as Objective Music
    Posted: November 04 2009 at 10:41
Objectivism is a philosophy developed by Ayn Rand that advocates:

1.     Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
2.     Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
3.     Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
4.     The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.”
We can see the application of this philosophical system to music in the following way: most “pop” music followers are, as Rand describes in her novel “The Fountainhead”, a shelf of other people’s tastes and opinions (which are concentrated in listings like Billboard’s and magazines like Rolling Stones) which constitutes the aberration of a “collective soul (or mind)”. Added to this, most pop music has no lyrical message or musical depth to be rationally enjoyed.
On the other side we have progressive music (including classical, 20th century, jazz, progressive rock, etc.) which has a rational content lyrically (in the case that there are lyrics) and musical, this substance can be translated in humor (Frank Zappa, Genesis), deep philosophy (Rush, Pink Floyd), optimism (Yes) or any other message or feeling that the musician wants to deliver. Now we have that progressive music followers don’t look for popularity charts but for virtuosity and meaning, an example of this is that albums not as popular as Close To The Edge (Yes) or Selling England by the Pound (Genesis) are more appreciated than 90125 (Yes) or Invisble Touch (Genesis) which did peak at the charts but where less complex and showed less virtuosity. In the words of Ayn Rand, the primary purpose of the artist “is to bring his view of man and of existence into reality” in other words, to deliver his views, feelings and/or opinions (content).
Progressive music, specifically progressive rock, has been called pretentious and it is as pretentious as the first architect that designed a skyscraper defying all previous establishments (as progressive music allways did with people as revolutionary as Mozart, Bach, Bartok, Joplin, Monk, Davies, Emerson, Wakeman or Fripp). Because this pretentiousness and grandiloquence that can compared to Michelangelo’s Sixteenth Chapel are an exaltation of human capacity and nature. This concepts have been presented by Rand in “The Fountainhead” (talking specifically about architecture), “Anthem” (written as an anthem to the man) and “Atlas Shrugged” (an example of this are the compositions of composer Richard Halley which are described as complex and with an implicit message). Rand describes the process of music appreciation in several steps: “from perception—to emotion—to appraisal—to conceptual understanding”. Being the last two the ones that involves reason and therefore impossible in a context in which there is no message or complexity.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 14:02
Michelangelo's Sixteenth Chapel? 

There are some Rand fans here, but I could never get into Objectivism. Maybe it's because I'm religious (sort of), but it always seemed to me like trying to justify being a bad person, which is not to say that all objectivists are bad people.

Otherwise, I'm not really sure what you're talking about.
if you own a sodastream i hate you
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 14:53
The problem with this analysis is that it's disconnected with the historical context of the creation of progressive rock: this genre is born from the "collective soul" of the 60's counter-culture.
It also presents progressive rock as an elitist genre: Michel-Angelo, really?
Moreover, I would tend to see RAP as the true "objectivist" music...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 15:03
Progressive music is "super subjective". It's over any kind of objectivity. It's what brings many subjects to feel one of the deepest emotion when discovering a work of art created by other subjects that try to communicate this emotion to the public. 
“Art is the proper task of life. ”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I am not afraid of Death, I just don't want to be there when it happens".
- Woody Allen


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 15:11
What is the problem with Michel-Angelo (It was just a moment of inspiration... )? wouldn't you consider Close to the Edge a work of art of such magnitude? and why would rap be objectivist?

the only way in which what I said could be interpreted as progressive music being elitist is considering that some people can't appreciate complexity or understand meaningful lyrics....its like a painting, you don't have to be very educated to appreciate a nice landscape drawn with vey complex painting techniques...... but I do think that prog is an elitist genre in the way that its followers are only the people that are aware that popularity isn't a synonym of quality....
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 15:21
true...that is why I said “from perception—to emotion—to appraisal—to conceptual understanding”....you first listen to it, you feel it and then you analyze it.... take Tarkus for example: the first time I listened to it I recognized the beautiful work of art it is and its amaizing message (lake’s anti-war lyrics linked with the extremely emotional music), and then I listened to it more closely, that’s when I realized the complexity of the music…. This two elements (and listens) allowed me to see the whole picture and appreciate the song as the masterpiece it is…..
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 18:18
honestly i think that saying that progressive is a truly objective form of music is rather rediculous, but saying that it is THE objective music is downright insulting to artists everywhere. When prog came out it was somewhat revolutionary, but even then only somewhat. Prog musitians can be entirely true to themselves when creating music, but not as a rule. Punk, it could be argued, is atleast as objectivist. When the Sex Pistols came out their sound was LESS POPULAR than prog and it expressed some things that, no matter how rediculous, were what the musicians felt, it was thier outlook. it was objective. I think you could find your so called objectivist artists in any genre of any artform. Including pop.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 18:20
Also i feel that it would be pop rather than prog that would dominate in your "perfect" capitalist world
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 20:48
I'm apparently one of the few people here who have actually read these novels and understand them. Wink

And I know exactly where you're coming from.

Music is NOT all created equal, in a sense, almost nothing is anyways in a non-religious context. I detest anyone who thinks that 50 cent's music has just as much OBJECTIVE artistic quality as Mozart.

With that premise in mind, we can say that progressive music is, in a sense, objectivist music in the sense that most of us here are just as MENTALLY, and thus rationally, stimulated by prog music (which is also why most of us prefer classical music to pop) as we are emotionally stimulated. I resolve, as elitist as anyone might consider me, that prog music in a literal sense (as in educated composition with meaning and inventiveness) is superior to mainstream popular music, which from an analytical standpoint usually has little essence whatsoever. I resolve that progressive music is OBJECTIVELY superior in compositional quality, PERIOD. Let the slandering begin. Tongue


Edited by Isa - November 04 2009 at 20:53
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 20:52
I don't think that progresive rock is objetive music as you try to define.
 
You can't put the progressive rock in a context like Rand  try to develop in their novels.
 
And agree with proletariat pop would be dominate far more than truly do in the real world.
 
Is like to say that progressive rock is full of Plato's ideas.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 20:54
Originally posted by ProgressiveAttic

true...that is why I said “from perception—to emotion—to appraisal—to conceptual understanding”....you first listen to it, you feel it and then you analyze it.... take Tarkus for example: the first time I listened to it I recognized the beautiful work of art it is and its amaizing message (lake’s anti-war lyrics linked with the extremely emotional music), and then I listened to it more closely, that’s when I realized the complexity of the music…. This two elements (and listens) allowed me to see the whole picture and appreciate the song as the masterpiece it is…..
 
You do not have to read Rand to understand Tarkus.LOL
 
Better read this from a more musical point of view:
 


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 04 2009 at 23:32
Some people apparently did not read OP's post about ObjectivISM since it's not even an issue of objectivity.

In general, the philosophical approach to appreciating art is tedious and boring. As opposed to maybe metaphysics, aesthetics does not seem to have an actual point to it, to me. It might only perpetuate "higher" forms of art, which more people can then say is superior to other scribbles or notes. It all gets one giant MEH from me.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 02:49
Many express distaste at the idea of 'elitism'. You do realise that this proves that elitism is important? Let me explain. We live in a money-class run capitalist society. The 'elites' - the bourgeoisie - dislike the idea of elitism because they hate anything more elite than them. The 'working man' - us, believe it or not - picks up on this idea and figures that being elite is a bad and unmoral thing to be. After all, the elites are the ones who got us into whatever mess/war we're in!

This example may sound like it's taken from some 1940's european country but it's actually still true today.

As for the idea of objectivism, well, I don't actually believe there is an objective truth or reality... just our perception. We can't ever prove prog is better... sadly, because everyone here knows it is. Also don't go aroudn saying all prog is based on complexity or virtuosity. Some of the old proggers will rage at you like nothing else.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 03:18
Originally posted by CPicard

The problem with this analysis is that it's disconnected with the historical context of the creation of progressive rock: this genre is born from the "collective soul" of the 60's counter-culture.


Yeah. The connection between progressive rock and Objectivism didn't exist until Rush and they've to my knowledge been more influential on heavy metal than on progressive rock both musically (I think Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden's biggest influence is Alex Lifeson) and maybe also ideologically. At the very least Objectivism is more compatible with the Nietzschean Übermensch powertrip sensibility of metal than with the hippie movement.

For the record, I also think there right now are too many retro-prog bands for the genre to be a mirror of the artistic ethos that The Fountainhead promotes if the reviews I've read of that book are accurate. The person alive right now who'd be the best candidate for "the Howard Roark of rock'n'roll" might possibly be someone like Mike Patton if we're going from big name musicians.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 09:13
I don't buy into Ayn Rand's political philosophy or those who admire it politically and economically speaking.  Noam Chomsky or Orwell anyone?  I'd recommend you check out their writings too if you haven't.

I don't have a problem with reality though.  The selfishness aspect is where it falls apart as a functioning philosophy for how to run things in human societies.  Laissez-faire capitalism is all about having masters and slaves.  Those with money and power are the masters, the rest of us are their slaves.  Another way to look at it is leeches and hosts.  All of these are of course over simplistic...

Edited by Slartibartfast - November 05 2009 at 09:14
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 16:03
you don't have to read rand to understand tarkus..... that's only a philosophic analysis of the process of appreciation of music....
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 06 2009 at 08:43
Just gimme Mike Angelo's SEVENteenth chapter, any day!
I'm sorry but this popular (?) thinker's theories just don't make any sense.

"Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival."

This is simply untrue.

We perceive most of reality through our (limited) senses.
We try to make sense of it by using reason.
Perception and reason (or logic) are two different things.
Furthermore, we are not only guided by reason but also by our instincts and emotions.

"The pursuit of [man's] own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."

This is a contradiction in terms. Moralism is concerned with the way human beings interact. How could your own SELF-interest ever be "the highest moral purpose of your life"? And even if Ayn Rand were not contradicting herself, what gives her the authority to pontificate on our highest moral purpose?


"Most pop music has no lyrical message or musical depth to be rationally enjoyed."

This is plain silly. ANY old lyric can be studied, analysed or, erm, "rationally enjoyed", from 'Singin' in the Rain' and 'Billy Jean' to 'The Revealing Science of God'. This doesn't mean, of course. that all lyrics are equally beautiful, but they all are a form of human communication and therefore, to some extent, rational.

Finally, I'm a classic rock/prog/jazz/and classical music nut, and I'm aware that Mozart's operas (to give just one example) are technically more sophisticated than any rock opera you can think of. I also happen to think they're great fun and deeply moving. But who's to say that they've got more "musical depth" than Abba's greatest hits?

First of all, what does "musical depth" actually mean? And secondly, it's well known that Abba's melodies, vocal harmonies, lyrics and instrumental arrangements are sophisticated. They certainly were good enough for the Swedish mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter, who devoted an entire album to them - and not to any other rock band! Von Otter made her name singing Mozart, Handel, Gluck, Richard Strauss, Schumann, Grieg and many other greats. She wouldn't touch Abba with a bargepole if there were nothing in it.

In other words: what may seem shallow to you, will be more than deep enough for plenty of other people.


Edited by fuxi - November 06 2009 at 09:32
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 06 2009 at 09:51


Interesting post and a fine conversation starter.  
Still, as others have already pointed out, Objectivism is a deeply-flawed philosophy (okay, all philosophies are, but there's a reason no reputable Philosophy departments give any space to Rand's system of thought).  
Simply stating that "reality exists as an objective absolute" doesn't make it so.  More to the point Rand never offers a convincing proof that this is the case or is beyond debate.  
Philosophers have long contended with what's called the fact/value distinction (people steal is a fact, stealing is wrong is a value, but we can't say that stealing is wrong is a fact).  This is the ground of Rand's claim.  The problem is that Randists want to believe their value system is outside values, which is obviously a flawed claim, either as self-contradiction or outright hypocrisy.  Furthermore, Rand makes a false and overgeneralized binary of objective/subjective; they are many other gray areas between. 
 
Rand's faith in free-market capitalism is also, obviously, not value-free and hardly objective (or objectivist) in any way.  The only figure who has put Rand's radical economic vision into place is Milton Friedman (who, and here comes my value system a-singing, is a name people should be more aware of and couple with Hitler and Stalin).  Friedman's radical free-market capitalism was put into place in Pinochet's reign, was the ground for Reagan and Thatcher's gutting of help for the poor but not the rich, and part of the thinking behind the invasion of Iraq.  In case, this sounds conspiratorial and nutty, read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine and David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism.  Rand's economic vision has been tested again and again and what has been shown is that a true free-market capitalism only exists under dictatorship, and usually one that employs torture.  
So, no Rand fan here.
What all this has to do with progressive music, I have no idea.  The music of an Objectivist (capitalist) world will be Britney Spears and all her successors not Yes, ELP or Univers Zero.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 06 2009 at 09:54
People on this forum are so misinformed about Rand's ideology.

You should have never posted this thread; you'll mainly get sh*t responses. Most people around here take any chance they get to bash it; I've since stopped even mentioning it.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 06 2009 at 09:56
Honestly, as a composer myself, I'd say I naturally have always approached composing and music much like Roark approached architecture.

Whether certain progressive composers felt the same way, I don't know. But like I said, this thread will become a useless piece of garbage, unfortunately.
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