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rock music

The first issue is to be more precise about the musical
terminology being applied to the discussion.  Syncopation
appears in many different types of music, including very
religious genres of music in Western and non-Western
cultures.  Syncopation is the accentuation of a weak
beat.  I view this as occurring in rock music far less
frequently than in other types of music.  For example,
in North Indian classical music it is highly common for
performers to improvise by going away from the tala,
or rhythmic cycle, and then returning.

I have to guess at what the question actually and what
the musical technique referred to actually is.  I wonder
whether Biggs is really referring to the tendency
in jazz to start sounding a note just slightly before
the beat, so that the note kind of glides into the beat.
It's a more subtle effect than a suspension in counterpoint
in Western classical music.

This leads to a question of the relationship of meaning
to musical gesture, and after the storm of discussion
about Susan McClary's book several years ago, the tide
among music theorists has generally become more favorable
to relating music to extramusical meaning, although clearly
not as simple sign.  In some historical periods it would
be appropriate to think of symbol, in the sense that
the musical signal is underdetermined with respect to
meaning.  But I don't think symbol or symbolism are the
issues here.

I would not easily dismiss an argument that the starting
of notes just slightly before the beat and the gliding into
the beat would support the ability of rock music to
stimulate one's physical energy, for sex or dance, work
or sports.  As a musician and not a psychologist, I
can accept the idea of rock or jazz as stimulating
sexuality, although not necessarily in a measurable
way that can be reproduced in experiments.  Whether
music would have enough of an effect to incite a person
to violence is another matter, but I suppose that it
could contribute along with a lot of other factors.
I would guess that the issue of violence is a lot
different from the issue of sexuality as far is music
is concerned.  One could argue the opposite point of
view, that rock music could relieve stress in people
and reduce the tendency towards violence.

Linda Seltzer

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