Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Social Functions of Music Explained

Music can serve a few social functions:

Reception and values 

The sociology of music shows how the reception of music calls on a common memory between the source and the recipient, memory which makes it possible to rely on a certain number of references and suggestions. It then approaches the field of the cognitive . Two categories of music continue to coexist: written music - music of the eye - and music whose transmission is only oral, the prerogative of most non-Western music. For this extra-European music, a branch of musicology has emerged, ethnomusicology : anthropology of the musical fact, she considers it in its dimensions which are both formal, aesthetic and socio-cultural, and extends her research both towards musical creation and towards the relations between musicians and society (art or shamanism , aesthetics or trance , etc.).

Creation and values 

The artist, in these two totally different cultures , is confronted with the concern for relevance - in the cultural context of his creation, namely geographical , historical , but also structural and philosophical . It is subject to the same problems as for any attempt at communication: the workand its author are relations to the world, and in this sense, a concern for effectiveness guides intentions and transmutes the desire to respect the authenticity of tradition. The memory of the work builds a certain future which will influence the creation to come. The sociology of music does not seek so much to analyze universal cultural foundations but rather investigates how collective memory is built around forms of composition and their reception.

In the West 

In Western music , sociological analyzes of Max Weber demonstrated trends of musical forms evolve toward abstraction, calculation, rationalization, trends confirmed the 20th  century but were actually ubiquitous. The historical analysis of the evolutions of this complexification proves, if it were necessary, that the composer has reached a stage where it is difficult not to confuse complexity and complication: composers are generally only complicated when they are not. do not know how to be complex; in these complicated musical works, only decoding - in the sense of information theory- remains more difficult, but the content of the music is not necessarily richer. Art does not try to be in step with the times. But, insofar as he handles a material by unheard principle and the receptivity of the new material cannot be freed from the progressive phases of an initiation into this new sound and musical world, the Western composer operates a real creation without know the cultural bases of reception.

Remember that the two senses of art are sight and hearing , because their fields of operation extend from immediacy to the depths of the unconscious.. Music should establish a balance between the reception of data from our environment and its formatting, but with criteria other than those of immediacy specific to sight. There are therefore forms of learning social reception - learning that can be more or less long - which make it possible to participate in the construction of listening behaviors. Music assumes that listening strategies are taken into account, the composer's inner listening, external listening specific to social reception. These strategies run through the musical work through a sensitive process seeking to reach the depths of the sociological personality of each being. This is, among other things, the basis of what Hans Robert Jauss describes as the aesthetics of reception: theaesthetic gap would measure the distance between the listener's expectation of the work and what the work itself contains. Listening strategies would then become learning to reduce this gap; but for Jauss this in no way means that the aesthetic value increases or decreases as a result.