Meaning of "tell" - like tree in forest sound problem?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Billy T, May 15, 2014.

  1. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. Sound, like vision, itches, odors, pain* etc. all are sensenation created by the brain. Usually they result from some external stimulation but none is required. Evolution has produced this result as it normally aids survival. People do haulcine visions, have itches, and heard sound with no external stimulus. When sounds are heard with no physical cause it is:

    " Tinnitus is the medical term for "hearing" noises in your ears when there is no outside source of the sounds. The noises you hear can be soft or loud. They may sound like ringing, blowing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, humming, whistling, or sizzling. You may even think you are hearing air escaping, water running, the inside of a seashell, or musical notes.

    Tinnitus is common. Almost everyone notices a mild form of tinnitus once in a while that only lasts a few minutes. However, constant or recurring tinnitus is stressful and make it harder to focus or sleep. It is not known exactly what causes a person to "hear" sounds with no outside source of the noise. "

    Blue quote from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003043.htm

    * Many people have "pain in a leg" but the cause is in their lower back. Some the nerves normally providing the brain with signals to process about their leg's environment and internal conditions, are being simulated to discharge by pressure against them in the spinal cord.

    BTW: The correct answer to the tree falling in the forest is: There is no sound, IFF there is no creature's perception of it. There is only compression and refraction waves in the air.
     
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  3. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    The purpose of a koan is to provoke doubt. We should always question our definitions.

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  5. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    So if a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?
     
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  7. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    Nope. The trick is to change between "sound" (FR's response) and "noise" (SSB's response).
     
  8. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    If the wind blows through wind chimes in the forest and there's nobody there to hear it, do they make music?
     
  9. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    Not by any definition of music that I know. But IF I were to hear it, I suspect it would make a pleasant sound.
     
  10. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    I would define "music" as "pleasant sound".

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  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The common academic definition of music is:
    Sound that has the following three characteristics
    • melody
    • harmony
    • rhythm
    or the art of creating this sound.​

    There are many rhythmic sounds in nature, since oscillation is a common phenomenon, from the subatomic level on up. Melody is much rarer, and almost exclusively the creation of living things, especially birds. Harmony is almost nonexistent in nature.

    So music is essentially a creation of humans.
     
  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    And old people always complain that what young people listen to is not music because they're usng a narrow definition.

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  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No. On the contrary, I would say that they're using your definition: pleasant sound. That definition is totally subjective, and allows anyone to define any sound they find unpleasant as "not music."

    My elders said that rock'n'roll was sheer noise and, therefore, not music. Yet it had, specifically, melody, harmony and rhythm. Some of the melodies were indeed rather primitive (even I didn't care much for Little Richard), but they were still (barely) melodic.

    You have to fast-forward 25 years to the dawn of rap, in order to find sounds that were marketed as music, but did indeed lack melody. The lyrics were spoken in cadence (giving it rhythm), but not sung. All but the most hard-core recordings had instrumental backing, which provided the harmony.

    Interestingly, apparently the audiences wanted true music. Eventually rap morphed into hip-hop, with alternating singing and rapping. These days, even a band that is uncontroversially accepted as rock'n'roll, Linkin Park, still alternates rapping with singing.
     
  14. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    I don't like rap music or hip-hop but I don't like your definition of music either. Is "primitive" tribal drumming not music? Is one person singing alone (without harmony) not music?
     
  15. btr Registered Member

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  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    It's not my definition. It's what you'll be taught in any university-level beginner's music course.

    No it's not, if that's all there is. But premodern people have been chanting for thousands of years, which is (minimally) melodic, so they've got two-thirds of it.

    You misunderstand what constitutes harmony. And since it's difficult to explain, that's hardly remarkable. You don't need two sequences of notes (or two notes sung together) to comprise harmony. What you do need is harmonic construction, or what we usually refer to as melody.

    The Greeks discovered that notes whose frequencies are in the ratio of small integers are pleasant to listen to in sequence. They don't have to be heard simultaneously. The ratios of the frequencies of the notes of the major scale are (going up from do to do an octave higher) are:
    • 9:8
    • 10:9
    • 16:15 (half-tones like E to F or B to C are the least harmonious, which is why there are only two in the scale)
    • 9:8
    • 10:9
    • 9:8
    • 16:15
    (Forgive me if I got any of those ratios wrong, I'm in a hurry.)

    So by simply composing a melody that uses those notes, you've automatically got harmony. Obviously you get much richer harmony if you produce two of those notes at the same time, much less three or four (which make a chord.)

    Primitive chants often use only three or four notes, so their harmony is a little too simple for our ears, but it's still harmony--so long as the frequencies of the notes are in the right ratios, and everybody is singing the same notes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  17. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    What would you be taught in a university-level beginner's anthropology course?
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Sorry, I'm a musician. You'll have to ask an anthropologist.

    However, the oldest musical instrument that has been discovered is a flute in Europe carved out of a mammoth tusk about 35,000 years ago. (This was around the time when Homo sapiens began to migrate out of Asia into Europe, so it could have been made by either a Neanderthal or one of our people.) It's been analyzed and tested, and the holes are in exactly the right configuration to produce a pentatonic scale. (A five-note scale with no half-tones that is the ancestor of the modern seven-note major and minor scales. You can hear a pentatonic scale in the key of Db by playing the black keys on a piano, within any octave, in sequence.) Obviously these people understood the concept of harmony and carefully built their instruments to produce notes whose frequencies are, indeed, in the ratio of small integers.

    In any case, anthropologists study the entirety of human culture. If you're interested in the minutiae of any single aspect of our culture, you'll usually get a more detailed answer from a specialist in that field, rather than a generalist. In other words, if you're interested in music you'll learn more by talking to a music professor than an anthropology professor. Unless you happen to meet one who is a musician.

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  19. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    But I'm interested in what people think music is, not what professors think music is. I suspect that those early humans thought pure drumming was music just as much as fluting was.

    What's "music to our ears" is music.

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  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    A good professor is as much a student as a teacher. I would expect him to have studied the music of many cultures and to know the differences between their various repertoires.

    Nonetheless, there's hardly any controversy over defining it as sounds that are built around melody, harmony, and rhythm. I'm sure you could go to any country and talk to a musician who has studied his art formally (thereby learning the vocabulary needed to talk about it articulately), and somewhere in his explanation would be the phrase, "melody, harmony and rhythm."

    Music in every post-Paleolithic culture has these attributes. I'd guess that harmony is usually the last of the three to develop, but as we discovered from that mammoth-ivory flute, even Neolithic Europeans had it--either Neanderthals or the Cro-Magnon Homo sapiens invaders.

    Since they hadn't invented written language, we may never know.

    And you could say exactly the same thing about chanting. They both have rhythm, which is necessary for group dancing, so the people don't trip over each other.

    For all we know, our ancestors may have developed music before language. Until about 70KYA, the activities of which we have evidence could conceivably have been performed by people who were also using their hands to communicate in signs. But there's a huge discontinuity at that time, after which there was an explosion of intricate, complicated group activities that required both communication and the use of both hands.

    Considering how sophisticated that flute from 30KYA is, it's not inconceivable that music is as old as, or older than, speech.
     
  21. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    I would.

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