Comments for academics


[1] OMS is a model , not a monolithic theory. What this means is:
ttttt – It is intended as a practical aid for composers, performers, producers, listeners, analysts, …
ttttt – It may be modified in various ways
ttttt – Its value is to be judged mainly in terms of its practical value

There are aspects of OMS that could be tested empirically. But being a model, it is not critical that the entirety be capable of validation. (There are many examples of models which cannot be entirely validated. E.g. models for acting [e.g. Method acting, Meisner technique, Mamet’s model, …] cannot be tested empirically; they are really advisory frameworks for actors.)

[2] How good is the specific profile/scorecard that is presented here? The profile has about 90 theoretical “receptors”. How realistic are these receptors, how good is the list of 90? Here are some comments:

ttttt – There are many more receptors that could be included. We speculate that about 1000 – 3000 total receptors could be quickly defined, simply by surveying common vocabulary and concepts that are used by critics in evaluating music. However, we think that our list is a good “cross-section” in the sense that an OMS Profile with our list gives a fairly good idea of the the range of stimulation of a piece of music. But there are other lists of receptors that could do a good job.

ttttt – How did we construct the list of 90? We started by studying middle-period Beethoven, and wrote down as many receptors as seemed to be implicit in the music – based on common critical writings, and also common-sense examination of the music itself. We chose middle-period Beethoven, because it is widely considered to be top-quality music that is central to the canon of western music. After working with middle-period Beethoven, we examined certain more-recent classical/contemporary music which we consider canonical; and then we did the same for other genres (jazz, contemporary pop, some best-known world music). We discovered that Beethoven provided probably 80% of all of the information that we needed; it appears that Beethoven has permeated most genres of music from the point-of-view of listener perception.

[3] What do the OMS Profile composite scores mean?

I interpret them as a composite measure of the total stimulation provided by a given musical performance. More detailed interpretations as follows (partial comments):

000 – 050  :  Stimulation so minimal, it would only be acceptable to a child
050 – 100 :   Good childrens music, light pop/folk/world music
100 – 150:    A great deal of commercial pop music is in this range
150 – 200:    High-quality pop music, also some light classical
200 – 300:    Music that provides a memorable experience; for some experience the memory
………………may last for many years or even a lifetime
300 – 400:    An unforgettable experience, rare, will probably be remembered for a lifetime
400 – 500:    The experience of a lifetime. May feel almost like a religious or spiritual experience
500+        :   Mind-blowing. May feel as if one’s neurons are being re-progammed.

The highest score we have found (680) has been for a great performance of Beethoven Piano Sonata Op. 110. When I heard Schnabel’s recording of this, I screamed at the end ! (Fortunately I was in my car). Is a higher score possible? I don’t know, I suspect only the greatest composers might be able to clarify that question.

[4] Is OMS “scientific” ?

The broad field of SCIENCE  is a large family of disciplines, with significant variation in terms of procedures, verification/validation, criteria for what is “good”.  A great deal of  OMS certainly belongs somewhere in that big family.

Three disciplines that I think have scientific character and which relate to OMS are: Artificial Intelligence (see photo at top of this page, that’s Marvin Minksy with a robotic device);  Psychoanalysis;  Schenker Music Theory/Analysis. All three of those disciplines are heavily involved in fact and observation; are intended for “practical” application (not just armchair theorizing).