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I am listening to the theme music of a movie soundtrack. While I enjoy the theme

I am listening to the theme music of a movie soundtrack. While I enjoy the theme music there is nonetheless something about it that strikes me as inauthentic and hallow. The thing is that I can't point to what it is that I find inauthentic. Maybe I might say that the music tries for an unconvincingly and excessively cinematic vastness and grandeur of emotion. But much equally ambitious cinematic music does not strike me as inauthentic. Is it philosophically incoherent to speak of a piece of music as lacking certain virtues such as authenticity when you are not even certain how a piece of music might be called authentic in the first place? How could it make sense? It seems odd to me that I can make such judgments.

Interesting! The topic of authenticity in music has been a lively one, especially (for some reason) in the 1980s and 1990s. The topic was usually defined by disputes about whether a musical performance of, say, Bach, could be authentic if it was performed with instruments that were unknown to the composer. Might it be the case that to really hear Bach's B Minor Mass one has to hear it on instruments modeled on those employed by the great German Baroque era composer? I believe Peter Kivey has a good book on authenticity in the arts, especially music. I think that the majority of philosophers who have considered this question concluded that authentic Bach does not require using only Baroque era instruments.

But quite apart from concerns with instruments or questions about when music is faithful to a composer's intentions, etc (which you did not ask about!), I think there are other ways of talking about authentic music. In your case, I don't think it is odd at all to think in terms of authenticity or inauthenticity. If someone described a piece of music as inauthentic and filled it out, as you have, with the observation that the music was unconvincing and excessive, I would think the music was unsuccesful insofar as it detracts from the movie or it somehow renders the film incredible or I might think of the music as sentimental and manipulative. In each (or all) of these respects I think one may reasonably think of inauthentic music as somehow failing to convince one of the drama or narrative of the film (e.g. the music that is supposed to overwhelm us with joy seems merely sacharine and smug).

I can also imagine that a movie sound track might sound inauthentic or hallow if listened to without the visuals. In that case, perhaps one's sense of inauthenticity and hallowness comes from the fact that some music is explicitly composed and intended to be part of an audiovisual experience, just as some visual experiences are reproduced in film that are intended and edited to include a movie sound track. Possibly, when you are only listening to the theme music you are only experience a fragment of wrok of art. The theme music without the visuals really is hallow and inauthentic, but matters change when experiencing the work of art as a whole.

Interesting! The topic of authenticity in music has been a lively one, especially (for some reason) in the 1980s and 1990s. The topic was usually defined by disputes about whether a musical performance of, say, Bach, could be authentic if it was performed with instruments that were unknown to the composer. Might it be the case that to really hear Bach's B Minor Mass one has to hear it on instruments modeled on those employed by the great German Baroque era composer? I believe Peter Kivey has a good book on authenticity in the arts, especially music. I think that the majority of philosophers who have considered this question concluded that authentic Bach does not require using only Baroque era instruments. But quite apart from concerns with instruments or questions about when music is faithful to a composer's intentions, etc (which you did not ask about!), I think there are other ways of talking about authentic music. In your case, I don't think it is odd at all to think in terms of authenticity...

Does music exist without a listener? This is kind of a corollary to the tree

Does music exist without a listener? This is kind of a corollary to the tree falling in the woods question- but it definitely deviates. Does the noise exist without someone to hear it? If music is created by a musician, does it really matter if anyone hears it? Does music have more value than random noise- because it was created with a purpose? Does this purpose give it more value than other waves?

Great questions. If by 'music' one means actual auditions (sounds), then it seems that the same reply works with the tree in the woods. There would be no sound and thus no music without auditions and thus without someone or thing to hear it. And the definition of music in terms of sound is an important one in the philosophy of music. Jerrold Levinson, for example, defines music as follows:

Sounds temporily organized by a person for the purpose of enriching or intensifying experience through active engagement (e.g. listening, dancing, performing) with the sounds regarded primarily, or in significant measure as sounds.

But if we change things a bit and think of musical composition, then your question about the musician seems very tempting. After all, imagine a musician composed a piece like the ninth symphony, perhaps writing out all the score, but the piece is never played. In that case, I think many of us would say the muscial composition exists even if there is no sound made at all based on the score. I would even say it is possible that all manner of musical compositions exist (or can exist) even if not written down, so long as someone simply composes the pieces in her head (so to speak!) and never tells a soul.

As for random versus purposive noise, Levinson's definition seems to rule out as music sounds produced by non-persons (e.g. birds) and mere noise (e.g. the wind's impact on trees). You may wish to challenge his position on that front. But one reason for thinking that persons and pursposiveness comes into play with music, is that most of us believe that music has expressive qualities or moods (joy, anger, sadness...) and it is difficult to think of noises that are non-purposive as possessing such expressive qualities. Making matters more complicated, however, is that some contemporary musicians make great use of random sound waves. For a philosopher who has done excellent work on the philosophy of music, check out Peter Kivy.

Great questions. If by 'music' one means actual auditions (sounds), then it seems that the same reply works with the tree in the woods. There would be no sound and thus no music without auditions and thus without someone or thing to hear it. And the definition of music in terms of sound is an important one in the philosophy of music. Jerrold Levinson, for example, defines music as follows: Sounds temporily organized by a person for the purpose of enriching or intensifying experience through active engagement (e.g. listening, dancing, performing) with the sounds regarded primarily, or in significant measure as sounds. But if we change things a bit and think of musical composition, then your question about the musician seems very tempting. After all, imagine a musician composed a piece like the ninth symphony, perhaps writing out all the score, but the piece is never played. In that case, I think many of us would say the muscial composition exists even if there is no sound made at all based on...