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3/28/97: We have been discussing the question, “What is music?” in class, and I am interested in your opinion.

To me, music is “organized sound.”

But that does not take into account “chance” music—the music of John Cage and others, for example. Does it? Do you consider that music?

It is music because it is not really chance. Those composers plan and organize their pieces to have a certain effect—even if they do not plan exactly what each note will sound like. Improvised music is not planned out note-for-note either, but it is still music.

If a man walks down the street, falls, and screams, that is not music. If a composer writes a piece that requires a man to walk down the street, fall, and scream, that is music even if the composer does not know, in advance, precisely what it will sound like in every particular. Or, you might say, even if the composer does not specify as much as he or she might in other genres.

©1997 by Joseph Rescigno. The text here may be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is given.

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