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Music: Is it a science or an art?
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28 / M / Trudging on throu...
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Posted 11/28/07 , edited 11/29/07
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but PLEASE explain your reasoning. (no one word answers) (you'll be surprised to know that I am not a mind-reader... )


Recently, I came across two wonderful yet contrary quotes. The first one reads as follows:

"A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence." ~Leopold Stokowski

The second one states quite the opposite:

"The pleasure we obtain from music comes from counting, but counting unconsciously. Music is nothing but unconscious arithmetic." ~Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

So what do you think? Is music something abstract and infinite as art, or is it something tangible and scientific as mathematics?


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30 / M / Melbourne
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Posted 11/28/07
i believe its art cause of creativity.
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35 / M / The Other Side of Me
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Posted 11/28/07
It's an art... Music comes from melody.. and melody isn't formulate by science ! (bows) thank you
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20 / F / Canada
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Posted 11/28/07
I'd say art, its in the category for school report cards
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28 / around~
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Posted 11/28/07
Well if you have music sheets, then it's all about technique (and I guess science). If you are composing, then I would have to say art with a background of math.. sort of like architecture.
Posted 11/28/07
I'd take it as Arts, as most people interpret it.
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29 / M / Tiny Moon Clouds
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Posted 11/28/07
What makes you think that things can't be art and science at the same time?
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24 / F / Nansai Osaka, Jap...
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Posted 11/28/07
i am surrounded by a lot of music and i can ply a lot of instruments and imm gonna have to say both cause science cause the accuracy and precision in music but the creativity is something that makes the music alive
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27 / M / Kingston, Jamaica
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Posted 11/28/07
I play piano myself and i'd have to say that it's both an art and a science.
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27 / M / It be sleepy time...
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Posted 11/28/07
Music is both an art and a science, for in many ways science can be seen as the art of the world understanding the natural rules of the world and universe. How is understanding to mark paper with black ink forming a score any different than knowing a complex and intricate formulas that are part of everyday life. Yet it is art in the sense that is truly and expression of a person, making it no different than how an artist brushes his or her strokes onto a canvas adding an assortment of color putting feeling and life into their work. Music is indeed every bit of art, containing a life, a feeling and a flow all of its own. Yet it is too very much a science of calculated theories and formulas all to understand what it is that makes a great song.
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24 / M / Columbus, OH
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Posted 11/28/07
Conductors especially math like, keeping time and counting for an entire groups of different insterments. Players have a bit of both with counting, but also have to put feeling and soul into the song, if you just "play" the song it wont be nearly as good as what the composer envisioned, its what you add in too.

I guess conductors have some artistic feels in there methods, but IMO the actual thing a composer does has some artistic style too it as well, but is mainly math like.

Also nice question qweruiop

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34 / M / 中国
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Posted 11/28/07
What an interesting topic.

Coming from someone who has studied audio electronics... I'd say there is certainly some science to it. I've studied music a little and I can certainly vouch for the mathematical aspects as well.

I wouldn't be so quick to label it as art just because it requires creativity. Science requires a tremendous amount of creativity. The execution of science requires discipline - which music does as well. That special attention to detail required to make everything result without error. That and I think it takes a certain amount of creativity to be inspired enough by an apple falling on one's head or a trip to the Galapagos islands to change the way we view the world itself.

While rhythm is certainly mathematic in nature, is melody? I think it can be at times. Repeating patterns, etc. Other times... not so much.

In the end though I would still call it an art due to the presence and elicitation of emotion. I can measure the force of gravity no matter what mood I'm in, or whether I enjoy the experiment or not. The results don't change. However, in a musical performance, the artist can have a radically different interpretation of the notes on the page than another. All the notes may be played as exactly as they're written - but there is clearly a difference. Also, the listener can feel something. Sure you can feel impressed or surpised by science, but to the point were it elicit joy, sadness, or a host of other emtions... arguablly not (at least not for the science alone - your personal investment in the subject is a different matter).

Basically, it's the difference between emotional attachment and detachment in my opinion. Good science is completely emotionally removed (as least to the point were ethics aren't compromised). Good music is completely emotionally involved.
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Posted 11/28/07

azrael910 wrote:

What an interesting topic.

Coming from someone who has studied audio electronics... I'd say there is certainly some science to it. I've studied music a little and I can certainly vouch for the mathematical aspects as well.

I wouldn't be so quick to label it as art just because it requires creativity. Science requires a tremendous amount of creativity. The execution of science requires discipline - which music does as well. That special attention to detail required to make everything result without error. That and I think it takes a certain amount of creativity to be inspired enough by an apple falling on one's head or a trip to the Galapagos islands to change the way we view the world itself.

While rhythm is certainly mathematic in nature, is melody? I think it can be at times. Repeating patterns, etc. Other times... not so much.

In the end though I would still call it an art due to the presence and elicitation of emotion. I can measure the force of gravity no matter what mood I'm in, or whether I enjoy the experiment or not. The results don't change. However, in a musical performance, the artist can have a radically different interpretation of the notes on the page than another. All the notes may be played as exactly as they're written - but there is clearly a difference. Also, the listener can feel something. Sure you can feel impressed or surpised by science, but to the point were it elicit joy, sadness, or a host of other emtions... arguablly not (at least not for the science alone - your personal investment in the subject is a different matter).

Basically, it's the difference between emotional attachment and detachment in my opinion. Good science is completely emotionally removed (as least to the point were ethics aren't compromised). Good music is completely emotionally involved.


Wow you studied audio electronics? Is that like recording arts? I am a voice major, so that's why I am so interested in this topic. I want to know if I should study voice like a science or like an art. I believe music is an art, and I will explain my reasoning.

It all comes down to what one means by art and science. My belief is that science is...........well..........a natural tendency of the human mind to classify that which is infinite and incomprehensible, and attempt to make it finite and comprehensible. Basically it is the fruit of reasoning and logic.

On the other hand, I believe that art is just a label we use for that which we fail to classify with our limited reasoning. Art, I believe, evokes that which cannot be expressed by words or reasoning. It is, according to me, solid proof of our divine God. Art is not just the work of the artist, but also the perspectives of the audience. Although I am trying to 'scientifically' describe art, I know that my mind is limited and therefore I cannot express that which cannot be understood.

.....ok that was a bit confusing, but I hope you can understand my beliefs. What do you all think? Agree ........or Disagree? (be sure to explain please )
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26 / F / U.S.
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Posted 11/28/07
i think it's art cause it expresses emotion..
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B.C., Canada
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Posted 11/28/07
Personally, i thin kits an art. when ur at a concert ur not doing scientific stuff in ur head, ur just enjoying the art for your ears: music
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