How we value music as an art form

Aesthetics, in the context of music, deals with how we perceive and value music as an art form. It involves aesthetic judgment, a process where we evaluate or appreciate music based on its artistic and beauty merits, rather than its practical utility or factual content.

In 1735, Baumgarten, through his work "Meditationes philosophicae de nonnullis ad poema pertinentibus," differentiated between knowledge and perception. He categorized aesthetic perception as part of the 'lower faculty,' implying a distinct realm for the science of perception.

Judging aesthetic qualities

Aesthetics is closely linked with interpretation or hermeneutics. Kant, in his 1790 work "Kritik der Urteilskraft" (Critique of Judgment), expands on this by exploring how aesthetic qualities can be perceived and rationalized. Kant proposes that to make a balanced aesthetic judgment, one should consider four aspects:

Kant viewed music's transitory nature as a weakness, as it limits its ability to articulate precise meanings. Hegel, on the other hand, saw this transience as a means for self-realization, perceiving artworks as embodying intrinsic beauty and significance, thus contributing to humanity's deeper interests.

Transcending the phenomemal world

In the 19th century, philosophers like Nietzsche and Schopenhauer further engaged with music, highlighting its subjectivity and meaning. Schopenhauer saw music as a profound art form, transcending the clarity of the phenomenal world and resonating deeply with the human experience, representing his concept of the Will.

The 20th century brought modernism and critical theory into the mix, leading to new perspectives on the significance and aesthetic understanding of music. Lawrence Kramer, in "Musical Meaning: Toward a Critical History," revisits the question of musical meaning, challenging traditional interpretations and incorporating a wide range of musical styles.

This ongoing debate raises questions about the universality of interpretative strategies in music. Can the same aesthetic principles apply to all music genres, from classical to metal, or do different music types demand unique responses? For instance, how do we approach the beauty and social impact of genres like metal, or bands like Sleep Token, known for their distinct blend of musical styles, both 'popular' music and extreme? These questions highlight the evolving and diverse nature of music aesthetics.

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