AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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Music, Theology, and Philosophy: A Conversation with Artist-Theologian Julian Reid

Image courtesy of Julian Reid

Artist-Theologian Julian Reid interviewed by Alex King

Julian is an artist-theologian who plays, speaks, and writes at the intersection of music, faith, and story. He is a founding member of the jazz-fusion group The JuJu Exchange and has two personal projects, including his solo show Inherited and his devotional series Notes of Rest. He also works with the grassroots organization Fearless Dialogues. He studied theology and the arts at Candler School of Theology and, before that, philosophy at Yale. He and his wife Carmen are based in his beloved hometown of Chicago. You can learn more about Julian on his website and keep up with him at @julianreid17 on Twitter/Instagram.

During or after you read this interview, please enjoy the sounds of the JuJu Exchange.

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The Philosophy of Jazz

lewis-jazz-band

Norman Lewis, Jazz Band (1948)

What is the philosophy of jazz?

In a sort of order of strength of the foundational questions philosophers of jazz often research and pursue we have:

  • What is jazz? Can it be defined?  Does it have a musical essence? Are there necessary and sufficient conditions for a musical performance to be jazz? How does one determine if free jazz, or jazz-rock fusion is jazz?  Was the movement to free jazz inevitable?
  • Could Martians who know nothing about music on planet Earth play jazz? Why or why not?
  • What is improvisation? Why is improvisation important to jazz?  Can improvisation be taught?  Are improvised (spontaneously composed) works inherently inferior aesthetically to pre-composed ones?
  • What is a musical work? Does jazz have musical works?  Can an improvised jazz performance be a musical work?
  • What does the ideal jazz musician need to know? Why?
  • How does the brain and mind work when playing and improvising jazz? What happens in a groove state or a flow state as it occurs during a jazz performance?
  • Improvisers spontaneously compose creating fresh melodies over the continuously repeating cycle of chord changes in a song. Why should this be admired as aesthetically valuable activity?  Why is this good?
  • Can mistakes occur during a jazz improvisation? Which ones are not mistakes?  How are mistakes possible?  What kind of mistakes can occur during a jazz performance?
  • Does playing jazz make a musician more spiritual? How has jazz contributed to freedom and creativity in the world?
  • Does jazz have emergent properties?

And we have barely scratched the surface.

So writes David C. Ring (Orange Coast College), editor of the website Philosophy of Jazz and co-organizer of the Jazz and Philosophy Intermodal Conference, would like to invite readers to pursue these topics and questions (and enjoy some jazz jam sessions!) at the conference, May 5-7, 2017. Details below the fold.
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PUNK MUSIC AND THE ONTOLOGY OF ROCK RECORDINGS

What follows is a guest post by Christopher Bartel.

The standard view of the ontology of musical works in the Western classical tradition holds that musical works are some kind of abstract entity and they are intended to be instantiated in live performances. I take it that this is the typical starting point for the debate. Disagreements arise over the kind of abstract entity that a musical work might be, and over how works are to be individuated. I have some skepticism toward these latter ontological projects (Bartel, 2011). But, I am not thereby opposed to other kinds of ontological projects. Actually, I think some do rather helpfully clarify exactly what is going on in our musical practices.

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