It has been said that there are not different types or categories of music, only good music and bad music. How can we know the difference between good and bad music however? Well, on some accounts, there are indeed different types (‘low’ vs ‘high’ art), some of which are by definition bad, others good. Yet, on other accounts, music is music – there are no essential differences in kind, and it is simply each listener’s favorable or unfavorable reaction to any given song or piece of music that decides its quality. In very broad strokes, these two contrasting orientations represent attitudes common in modernist and postmodernist theories, respectively. In the former, Western classical music was privileged (unjustly, in some respects) above all other kinds. However, the latter orientation, which is currently in fashion, seems to reduce all musical meaning and appraisal to little more than our own mental projections. In this presentation, a third, alternative way to identify musical types is proposed, one that seeks to illuminate meaningful musical distinctions in the natures and functions of three musical kinds (folk, mass, and art music), with some surprising results. A brief piano performance will precede the talk.

Monday, December 11, 2017 at 6pm. This event is part of the Philosophy Series at The Cornelia Street Café, located at 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014 (near Sixth Avenue and West 4th St.). Admission is $10, which includes the price of one drink. Reservations are recommended (212. 989.9319)

Jason Cutmore is a concert pianist, teacher, and the founder and director of the Canadian music festival, Alberta Pianofest. He has performed solo piano and collaborative recitals across much of North America, Europe, and India, and has published articles in peer review journals and trade magazines. Mr Cutmore lives in New York City, and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center.