In a recent article in this journal, Lee B. Brown criticizes one central kind of project in higher-order musical ontology—the project of offering an ontological theory of a particular musical tradition. I defend this kind of project by replying to Brown’s critique, arguing that musical practices are not untheorizably messy, and that a suitably subtle descriptivist ontology of a given practice can be valuable both theoretically and practically.
In this essay, I investigate musical silence. I first discuss how to integrate the concept of silence into a general theory or definition of music. I then consider the possibility of an entirely silent musical piece. I begin with John Cage’s 4′33″, since it is the most notorious candidate for a silent piece of music, even though it is not, in fact, silent. I conclude that it is not music either, but I argue that it is a piece of non-musical (...) sound art, rather than simply a piece of theatre, as Stephen Davies has argued. I end with consideration of several other candidates for entirely silent pieces, concluding that two of these are in fact pieces of music consisting entirely of silence. (shrink)
In this article, I first consider the metaphysics of musical recordings: their variety, repeatability, and transparency. I then turn to evaluative or aesthetic issues, such as the relative virtues of recordings and live performances, in light of the metaphysical discussion.
I investigate the widely held view that fundamental musical ontology should be descriptivist rather than revisionary, that is, that it should describe how we think about musical works, rather than how they are independently of our thought about them. I argue that if we take descriptivism seriously then, first, we should be sceptical of art-ontological arguments that appeal to independent metaphysical respectability; and, second, we should give fictionalism about musical works—the theory that they do not exist—more serious consideration than it (...) is usually accorded. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Aaron Ridley has recently attacked the study of musical ontology—an apparently fertile area in the philosophy of music. I argue here that Ridley's arguments are unsound. There are genuinely puzzling ontological questions about music, many of which are closely related to questions of musical value. While it is true that musical ontology must be descriptive of pre-existing musical practices and that some debates, such as that over the creatability of musical works, have little consequence for questions of musical value, none (...) of this implies that these debates themselves are without value. (shrink)
I discuss Gregory Currie’s taxonomy of explanations of the fictional. On the one hand, there is an important kind of relation between internal and external explanations of some fictional truths that Currie leaves out, where both are salient and yet in a relation of harmony with each other. On the other hand, I do not see that he has established that there is a genuine relation of tension between some pairs of internal and external explanations, and thus I question the (...) usefulness of the category of collapse. I also consider a further kind of explanation: the exterior explanation. (shrink)
Gregory Currie, arguing against recent psychoanalytic and semiotic film theory, has defended various realist theses about film. The strongest of these is that ‘weak illusionism’—the view that the motion of film images is an illusion—is false. That is, Currie believes film images really do move. In this paper I defend the common-sense position of weak illusionism, firstly by showing that Currie underestimates the power of some arguments for it, especially one based on the mechanics of projection, and secondly by showing (...) that film images exhibit neither garden-variety motion, nor a special response-dependent kind. (shrink)