The dualism associated with the subjectivity and the human mind and the objective when it comes to the rest of nature is one of opinion versus facts (Davidson, 2001). The following in part one of three takes both positions about the domain of music and considers the correctness of interpreting such facts and why. The second part applies subjective and objective moral facts about music and considers which interpretation is the best and why. The third and final part compares and contrasts the domain of facts to the moral facts about music.
Part 1 Domain of Music – It is About the Beat
Bringing attention to the domain of music and considering the phenomenon of the beat found in all musical pieces. Among musical cultures a regular beat remains widespread and is such because of the function of the beat. The beat in music functionally coordinates synchronized movement in particular for music intended to use for dancing. Human societies and even some human cultures use the same terms for dancing as they use in music. Another transparent function of a musical beat provides a temporal reference in an ensemble performance of different instruments. According to Patel (2008), “Indeed, a cross-cultural perspective reveals that ensemble music without a periodic temporal framework is a rare exception (p. 99).” Even in the case of music from Indonesia having no periodicity in its ensemble music the functional role of the tempo (beat) becomes filled by other means (Patel, 2008).
The listener perspective is subjective about the beat of music and often links to the synchronized movement form of the beat and for many people it is this aspect of music that is natural to their own experience of the music requiring little effort. The subjective surprise in the case of synchronized movement humans hear in the beat of music is that humans remain the only species that according to Patel (2008), “spontaneously synchronize to the beat of music (p. 100).” Despite this “fact (objective)” about humans that does not mean that beat perception automatically causes a body to move but when it does it is purely subjective in response to beat perception. From the individual cognitive aspect of human response to musical beats and derives from individual preference for tempo range in beat perception. This is a highly subjective process. While individual people will respond to one specific level of rhythmic structures in music, subjectively, but nonetheless, at will can move their preference to other rates of the synchronized tempo (Patel, 2008).
The cultural variability that exists in different music and their tempo is another subjective beat perception. Indeed, according to Patel (2008) review of research on this area of understanding, implications of the findings show that individual beat perception is not a passive response of a person’s auditory system but rather there is a cultural influence possibly relating to a person’s sensitivity to the grouping of notes to create a particular tempo.
Both subjective and objective facts hold true to understanding how musical beat is set according to specific mathematical precepts and at the same time are subject to the individual views of humans listening and responding to a beat or tempo of a piece of music. The mathematical facts of music are a universal truth. The delight of people in a beat either individually or as a group remains a personal perspective that is part of developing a personal identity.
Part 2 – Morality Aspect of Music Beat
From an objective position on the merits of music and its tempo or beat, looks to the way it intensifies human emotional experiences and is a part of the morality of humanity in worshiping God, in celebrating the spirit of music philosophically. The joyful and the sadness evoked from music and the tempo its beat produces are historically documented as with such classical music as “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. There is no intellectualization of the music it is merely enjoyed through the uplifting tempo as an expression of joy in the beat. According to Nortz (2002) this is an example of how music disposes man to virtue because it is specific to giving order to emotions for the right reason in celebrating the joy found in worshiping God through music. Virtues of fortitude and temperance that such music as “Ode to Joy” arouses in people are a means for perfecting human emotions so there is an ability to for increasing the capacity for loving truly and for unifying personal strength to both oppose and to overcome evil. In doing so the moral fiber including meekness, chastity, patience, sobriety, courage, and clemency develop.
When music beats possess people to absolutize their passions according to Nortz (2002) then they lose the pleasure principle for goodness and fall victim to the passions the beat raises in them toward libertinism, chaos, and rebellion. Poiger (2000) explains how major changes in society are associated with the way people responded to the beat of music as witnessed by jazz beats of post WWII generation and the emergence of Rock and Roll exemplified by Elvis Presley. The moral fiber of generations prior to this era of self-indulgence connected to the beat of Rock and Roll then moved into the 1960s. “Instead of Elvis Presley or Bill Haley, the main objects of scorn were now the Beatles and Rolling Stones, who allegedly contributed to the ‘moral disintegration’ of East Germany and who were apparently closely associated with the United States in spite of their British origins. (Poiger, 2000, p. 216).
Subjectively and objectively the above perspectives on how music engenders society toward a moral path or away from it hold validity. There is a pragmatic approach to considering the two extremes caused by the beat/tempo of music effect on people. Environment is a basic aspect of how people react to music. If the moral outcomes of listening to “Ode to Joy” creates a subjective response that heightens the virtuous characteristics of a person, then the objective view holds true. Conversely, the rebellious beat of Rock and Roll from its inception following Jazz beat rhythms was clearly the impetus for cultural changes in society from the status quo of earlier generations. This led to young people drinking, pulling down of barriers separating intimacies between young people, and affected governments to react as happened during this era of the Cold War in East Germany (Poiger, 2000).
Part 3 – Moral Facts vs. Domain Facts
Further to the comparison and contrast of the above considering moral facts vs domain facts from both the objective and subjective perspective shows the intention of moral facts is to give reason to the use of music as a spiritual tool guiding human development of virtues that fit the benefit of society. The domain facts both subjectively and objectively are different to the extent the is no ethical value applied as in considering the moral aspect of what musical beat potentially does to affect a human’s sense of virtue or the absence of it. In contrast the two morally indeed seem dissimilar because of the intention of morality either objectively or subjectively. At the same time, the comparative aspects of moral facts to the domain facts both subjectively and objectively about music beat is how the human element is the focus of both.
The above research, assessment, and discussion successfully provided insights into how objectivity and subjectivity about the domain of musical beat produces different sets of facts of nature and facts of the human condition. When the moral application to the two perspectives were considered about the domain of musical beat the facts took on different directions explaining this aspect but in the end the similarities came down to human engagement and interaction with musical beats.