i stand behind the claim that cognition is recognition, in some form or another. The argument goes into human cognitive theory and epistemology, which i dont want to get into because im pretty much ignorant of most of the subject, BUT if we accept this concept (sounds sound enough to me) then there are certain concepts relating to music, 20th century music, which should be mentioned.
The seralists will have a serious problem if they accept this claim. If the listener can not recognize something in the music, if the pattern can not be deciphered auditorily (since the medium of music is sound, not images), then it is failing to give the listener much intellectual material to work with, aside from pure sonic material. It makes perfect sense that most people, even many serious musicians, have trouble enjoying 12 tone music.
How can we really cognitize music that never gives us something to recognize? I once became thrilled in the middle of a Schoenberg concert because i recognized the tone row... briefly, then it went away and i never heard it again. I then fell back into a strange state boredom - interested in the sounds themselves and not interested in the music beyond that. The same is true often in the avant-garde, im fascinated by the sonic experiences but the musical material is often uninteresting. (the counter to this is that there is no division between musical material and sonic experiences, that they are one in the same)
In Berg its understandable, since he imprinted serialism with such passion, in Webern, even, understandable, since he discovered new possibilities in sound and a different mode of intensity and expression (however cryptic) all together. But still, to enjoy the webern and the berg to a greater extent i have to hear the music more than once. I will go Anablog and open one of those windows and listen to about 5 minutes of a 30 second Webern piece. Im not really comfortable leaving one before that
So it could turn out, surprisingly, that repetiton in some form actually increases intellectual stimulation for the listener instead of diminishing it, that for the listener, a chopin ballade may use more brain power than the most solidly intellectual piece of Boulez, more interest for our intellect than something that never repeats or is unrecognizable.
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