notes on representation

mar 25 23

There are certain appeasing qualities of creative works that immediately may not seem to be representational--that is, it invokes some emotion without an explicit reference to a certain 'thing' in the 'real' world. It's not much of a mystery why looking at a political cartoon might incite some feeling but it's not so apparent how a musical resolution can be moving. And music is an obvious art to focus on, because of how many aspects are not immediately referential. As will be determined, however, each component of a musical work is full of references on references that derive from reality, and that the whole of a piece of music can be determined by enough specificity in intent to be communicated. There can't be any 'purely formal consideration', art is entirely political. Our experience with art is virtually always accompanied by interpersonal signifiers--our first impression of the lullaby is being comforted as a child. Those songs are slow and quiet, in comparison to normal speech, and the body language of slow, gentle movements accompany it as well. And this brings us to the main point: there's substantial overlap between characteristics of verbal language, body language, visual art, and music. They are all means of communication, which is often said but it's true in the most literal sense. Not only that, but we are able to further metaphorize qualities and apply them in new ways. When we are hurried our movements are faster, which feeling translates into music with elements at smaller time intervals, even though the two are not immediately related, we've created a referential motif that contains that information. In the case of the lullaby, the same association is created; 'soft' tones with 'soft' body language. There is a very rich body of contextual elements that we take from in the production of a new creative work. Without the cultural context, there is no art, there is no intent. Intent requires a background to work against. This is by definition; a declaration is only meaningful in relation to something else. New words (which come from a need to express a new idea) are necessarily created by concatenation, abbreviation, borrowing a related concept from another field, or any combination of those. Meaning only exists in relation. Older generations are reactionary in aesthetics for this reason--the new elements are challenging, intentionally different. New sound and visual 'symbols' are created. It has to be different, in fact--otherwise there would be no separation. And these symbols exist at arbitrary size. In a previous post I use the term 'convention', but it really means the same thing. The musical rondo as a symbol is more complex compared to the examples discussed so far; it's defined as an alternation between 'themes', which are themselves made up of 'motifs' which are made up of notes. And themes and motifs (and notes, but this symbolic idea is so ubiquitous that its being a convention is pretty invisible) all have existing contexts for usage as well as being symbols themselves. Back at the level of the rondo, the 'meaning' from usage of this form has changed over time; first, as something 'new', and associated with contemporary composing, then as an established convention, and now music written in rondo form from those centuries can be considered dated or 'classical' against the background of everything that has occurred since. So the rondo form includes a whole hierarchy of further nested symbols, and can also be used in every symbolic manner itself, just like any 'lower' symbol it implicitly builds from. Additionally; formal consideration Our capacity for symbolic interpretation is flexible enough to even extend an appeasing quality directly to the 'fine craftsmanship' of an artwork. Immediately, this may seem to be an 'isolating' of the formal qualities of an artwork; instead of making any reference to the interpersonal collection of ideas, observation and appreciation could be founded entirely on the sensory qualities of the artwork. However, our perception is inundated with symbolic augmentations from our 'culture' down to the lowest level. It's established that sensory input is highly processed by the brain, 'filling in the gaps', so that no observance is untouched. Without a larger background to tap into, art based around these acultural 'observances' could take any shape, which is also to say that they have no shape. In a previous post I mention that a form being 'boxy' or 'curved' is a generalization; it can only be given description or be formulated as a concept at all because of language, which develops from the necessity of interpersonal communication.