AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


2 Comments

BRO-COUNTRY, WALMART COUNTRY, AND AUTHENTICITY

kerobia.jpg

At her blog, L. M. Bernhardt has written a response to John Dyck’s recent post defending country music. In her post, “…but it’s all right.” she articulates something that worries her about Dyck’s presentation of country music as unsophisticated.

There is an important difference between the music born from the life of farmers and miners and the music that deploys that life as a sign of authenticity for consumers who don’t necessarily live there anymore.

She goes on to explain:

it’s a major feature of contemporary bro-country, which tends to be an assembly-line-produced mess of redneck identity signifiers masquerading as “authentic” country music. A pop-country performer like Brad Paisley (who is good at his job — don’t get me wrong!) bears little to no resemblance to someone like Ralph Stanley or Hazel Dickens. He and his usual co-writers produce songs about country as an identity. Hazel Dickens wrote and sang from it, and I think that makes a big difference — or should make a big difference — in how our aesthetic judgements handle these things. Country music like hers isn’t bad music or unsophisticated music that uses its messiness to signify authenticity — it’s representative of a distinct body of styles with its own natural history and quality markers, which is exactly what constitutes its authenticity.

Readers should check out the whole thing. Bernhardt writes from the perspective of both a performer and a philosopher, and her thoughts on the matter are really interesting.

We’ve given John Dyck the opportunity to respond. His response follows. Continue reading


7 Comments

IN DEFENSE OF COUNTRY MUSIC, BY JOHN DYCK

paisley.jpg

I used to hate country music. I would hear it at my grandparents’ house. I remember hearing my grandma sing along to those drawling voices and crunchy fiddles. My nine-year-old self cringed inside. The music was so gauche and uncultured. My grandparents grew up poor and uneducated, and I could hear it in their music. Continue reading


Leave a comment

ARTIST INTERVIEW: MICHAEL THOMAS CONNOLLY

mtc.jpg

Musician, recording engineer, and producer Michael Thomas Connolly interviewed by Alex King for AFB

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Michael Thomas Connolly is a musician, recording engineer and producer in Seattle, WA. Obsessed with learning new skills, Michael is avid multi-instrumentalist and performs professionally on fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, accordion, piano, Hammond organ, guitar, dobro, bagpipes, flute and pennywhistle. He runs the venue and recording studio, Empty Sea Studios, and has engineered approximately 100 full-length records in approximately 20 years of multitrack recording. He has performed and toured with Coyote Grace, and has appeared on ABC’s The Gong Show. He is a ham radio enthusiast, computer geek, motorcycle rider, and cat lover, and has recently switched to decaf. Continue reading


4 Comments

PUNK ROCK PHILOSOPHY 3: AMATEURISM AND THE MYTH OF SID VICIOUS

In this, my third post on the aesthetics of punk rock, I will continue my examination of Jesse Prinz’s idea (as detailed in “The Aesthetics of Punk Rock”) that punk rock (in its various forms) is characterized by three qualities:

  • Irreverence
  • Nihilism
  • Amateurism

The topic of this post and the next is amateurism. (See here for the introductory post, and here for the post on nihilism. As already noted in previous posts, I don’t have much to say about irreverence.) Continue reading


4 Comments

PUNK ROCK PHILOSOPHY #2: NIHILISM OR ACTIVISM?

I began this series of posts here, setting up the issues and summarizing Jesse Prinz’s main points in his groundbreaking “The Aesthetics of Punk Rock”. Readers of that post will recall that Prinz identifies three characteristics of punk rock that he thinks are central to the genre:

  1. Irreverence
  2. Nihilism
  3. Amateurism

Readers of that post will also recall that I have nothing at this point to say about irreverence (of course, there likely is much to say about the exact sort of irreverence that is at work in punk rock, but I’m not going to do that today). Thus, we’ll move on to the second topic in the list: nihilism. Continue reading


1 Comment

HAPPY ARTSY HALLOWEEN!

Eleven-in-tank.jpg

In the past, AFB has posted a few appropriately themed music videos for the holidays (see, e.g., here and here). But we’ve decided to take it up a notch!

When a holiday rolls around, various regular contributors to AFB will spotlight holiday-appropriate works of art. These are not necessarily works that the particular contributor thinks are the absolute best (although they might be), and they are not necessarily unfamiliar or particularly avant-garde. But hopefully the mini-essays included will introduce you to a new perspective on at least some of these works, or even just remind you of really cool works that fit that into the holiday mood!

In the future we plan on setting these up as a series of week-long mini-posts leading up to the holiday in question, but this Halloween we’re just going to throw a few of them at you all at once. So here goes! Continue reading


11 Comments

PUNK ROCK PHILOSOPHY: INTRODUCTION

The following is the first post in a series on punk rock. Click here for entry #2.

In a 2014 article in Philosophy Compass titled “The Aesthetics of Punk Rock” Jesse Prinz (who guest-blogged for AFB here!) presents an aesthetic analysis of punk rock aimed at both fostering a deeper understanding of the genre and at teasing out larger lessons for the philosophy of music (and the philosophy of art more generally).

His analysis comes in two stages. First, he provides a framework for understanding punk rock music (and the punk subculture within which it is produced and consumed) in terms of three central themes:

  1. Irreverance.
  2. Nihilism.
  3. Amateurism.

Prinz then uses this three-part story to draw two larger conclusions:

  • Punk rock involves an explicit rejection of traditional aesthetic norms, illustrating the plasticity of taste (and as a result serious consideration of the genre recommends a rejection of global norms of “goodness” or “good taste”).
  • Punk rock provides a fertile testing ground for the idea that art and identity are (often) irreversibly intertwined, and thus a full understanding of (at least some) musical genres is impossible without an accompanying story about social identity formation (including fashion, politics, and lifestyle) within the subculture.

Over the next few months, I will be posting a series of essays further exploring and complicating Prinz’s discussion of each of these ideas (in posts titled Punk Rock Philosophy), with the possible exception of “irreverence” (about which Prinz’s discussion seems straightforward to me, and pretty much exactly right). In this initial post I want to set up some of the requisite background, and outline the approach (and one or two controversial assumptions) I will be making in the posts to follow. Continue reading


2 Comments

PHILOSOPHER-ARTIST INTERVIEW: ANNELIES MONSERÉ

Philosopher and Musician Annelies Monseré interviewed by Alex King for AFB

Annelies Monseré is a post-doctoral researcher at Ghent University (Belgium) and a musician. Her philosophical work focuses on definitions of art. Her PhD thesis investigated the metaphilosophical assumptions underlying the project of defining art. Currently, she is working on the implementation of a normative approach to defining art, an approach she defended in her thesis. Annelies has been a recording and performing artist since 2000. Her music has often been described as minimal, dark and experimental. She has put out two LP’s and many EP’s. A third record is to be released soon. Moreover, she has collaborated with other musicians, most notably Jessica Bailiff, and she is currently playing her music with a band. For more, visit Annelies’ Bandcamp Page.

Continue reading


2 Comments

EDITOR-ARTIST INTERVIEW: PETER MOMTCHILOFF

OUP Editor and Indie Rock Legend Peter Momtchiloff interviewed by Christy Mag Uidhir for AFB

Peter Momtchiloff has been philosophy editor at Oxford University Press since 1993. He studied classics at Oxford. He has played guitar in many bands, including Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, and currently the Would-be-goods and Les Clochards. Continue reading