Of course there is a great deal of thinking about music, consider: Musicology, music theory, music criticism, informal music blogs, and so on. But there are certain “meta-music” topics that get amazingly little attention; one could put these under the heading of “thinking about thinking-about-music”.
Examples of topics that fall under the heading of “thinking about thinking-about-music”:
[a] What is the scope and what are the limitations of the Note-centric model of music?
[b] What is the scope and what are the limitations of the OMS model of music?
[c] What kinds of comprehensive models of music might there be besides [a] and [b]?
[d] How can music be described while respecting the subjectivity of individual experiences of music?
[e] Are reasonable rating systems possible for music? (If rating systems are possible for wine, why not for music?)
These are very interesting topics. But in researching and developing OMS, we have learned that few people are actively interested in such topics. Interest seems to be restricted mainly to “specialists” such as myself.
“… wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder” (Plato, “Theaetetus”)
It seems to me that every musical experience involves “wonder”: Wonder that music is so pleasurable, rich, and highly-organized; wonder that there is such a thing as music at all; wonder that music is so well-attuned to human perception and intelligence. As per Plato (and Aristotle), “wonder” naturally leads to philosophical thinking. So in this sense, every musical experience invites philosophical reflection and thought.
Music is a form of love that is transmitted via the recipient’s ears.
Ear-Love is not the most “mature” form of human love. For instance, music is mainly one-direction (from the composer/performer to the listener, very little from the listener back to the composer/performer); more mature forms of love are typically bi-directional (e.g. love between mother and child).
But music does have many characteristics which are associated with love: It is mainly pleasurable; it provides a variety of stimulation; it is organized for the benefit of the listener (it is “listener-centric”); it is unconditional (possibly a payment to initiate the music, but after that, no conditions); it is intimate; it is deeply satisfying.
One curious deficiency of music as a form of love: The love is typically delivered “from a distance”. I.e., the composer is typically far away, maybe even dead; if the performance is recorded, then the performer is far away; even if the performance is live, typically the performer is on a stage or in some other way “separated” from the listener. In many cases, the identity or persona of the composer/performer is not even known (a kind of secret lover?).
There is probably more to be said about Ear-Love, to be continued …
 It appears that over the last century, OMS ratings for popular music have been going up. For instance, a typical pop tune from the early 1950’s (such as Four Aces “Three Coins in the Fountain”, Patti Page “Tennessee Waltz”, Guy Mitchell “My Heart Cries for You”, Bill Haley “Rock Around the Clock”) rates around 100. Today, a typical pop tune (such as a winning performance by an American Idol winner) is in the range of 140.
 OMS ratings for classical music begin at about 170. Not much higher than what we hear on American Idol.
Here is an attempt at interpreting the above:
It appears that public tolerance/receptivity is increasing for music of greater complexity/richness. This would suggest that someone who likes American Idol performances is already somewhat predisposed to “like” certain kinds of classical music. And I would speculate that this kind of tolerance/receptivity will continue to increase.
To state another way: The apparent “chasm” between popular and classical music is narrowing, and is starting to become an overlap. As this overlap develops further, more and more classical music will become familiar, comfortable, attractive.
Why does my attention wander when I listen to a Brahms Symphony (or almost any piece of classical music)?
Partial answer: Consider just about anything that is highly stimulating in a continuous manner (no letup). E.g.
[a] The best steak you ever could imagine - sizzling, fragrant, oozing rich juices.
[b] NBA championship game, front row center court.
[c] Your loved one looks you in the eye and tells you for 15 minutes how wonderful you are.
In any of these examples, it would be natural for your attention to wander! In situations like this, sustained focused attention is just not doable for long periods.
The “problem” with a Brahms Symphony (or almost any longer piece of great classical music) is that the stimulation is sustained, without much letup. Sure, there are periods where the music is relatively “quiet”; but even then, there is plenty going on. Pick any passage from Brahms Fourth at random, and dwell on it, it is almost guaranteed to be a rich, satiating experience.
So the explanation for wandering-attention is: Too much sustained stimulation over a long period of time.
This is the lowest-rated item of music we have found to date. It barely qualifies (fails to qualify?) as music. The performer is Nora the Cat, who really just wanders at/on the keyboard. The performance generates only a little stimulation. Significant stimulation seems to include only the following (at a low level): structure; funny sounds; virtuosity. Actually, this is quite an accomplishment for a young cat; keep practicing Nora, we are excited about your future!
The following is a characterization of the concept of “beauty” via OMS:
Primary characteristics of musical works or passages that are considered beautiful:
[a] They impart significant pleasure
[b] The pleasure is intense or rich
[c] The pleasure is the the result of multi-stimulation: Not a single stimulation, but many kinds [melody, harmony, big structure, fine structure, sonic effects, “emotion”, “narrative”, “color”, “spatiality”, memory, … A complete high-level list could number over 100 kinds of stimulation]
[d] The above stimuli are organized or coordinated
[e] For the most part, [d] is “transparent” - i.e. the various stimuli can be be enumerated, described.
[f] However the is also an element of subtlety: Some elements of the stimuli are not easily described.
[g] Possibly some qualifications on the “kind” of pleasure. If conditions [a]-[f] are satisfied, but the pleasure is “crude” or “lower-level”, the music may not be considered beautiful. (Not sure about this)
Based on feedback and recent research, it is clear that OMS has a greater scope than is currently being addressed in this blog. Accordingly, the following next steps are planned:
 The scope of OMS will be expanded to cover most of the major and minor arts. So for instance, there will be: OMS-Music, OMS-Film, OMS-Literature, OMS-Poetry, OMS-VisualArt, OMS-Dance, OMS-Food, OMS-Wine, …
 These materials will be presented in the main website .
 The goal of the website will be to evolve into a book, with the working title “Art is OMS”. This book is envisioned as a successor to Aristotle’s Poetics.
 The present blog will focus on: Current developments with OMS; brief evaluations of sample music; brief articles.
The main website will continue to be www.omsmodel.com
A Delicious Moment (“DelMo”) in music has the following characteristics:
[a] It’s a moment (or a segment) which is highly pleasurable
[b] It grabs most of a listener’s attention
[c] It is fairly easy for a listener to recall (accuracy probably not perfect)
A DelMo is similar to what pop musicians call a “hook”, but not exactly the same. (E.g., some commercial jingles have hooks which are not pleasurable but they grab the listener’s attention and are fairly easy to recall).
Outstanding examples of DelMo’s:
- Theme from Elvira Madigan (Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21)
- Theremin in “Good Vibrations” (Beach Boys)
- “Eleanor Rigby” (Beatles) – almost an untinterrupted sequence of DelMo’s
- Moonlight Sonata, Mvt 1 (Beethoven) – pretty much one long DelMo
Much great classical music is rather sparse in the occurrence of DelMo’s (e.g. Brahms symphonies). Some of the best pop music is packed with DelMo’s (e.g. many Beatles tunes).
DelMo’s are so potent experientially that for some listeners they amount to an aesthetic standard (The good-ness of a piece of music is roughly proportional to the amount of DelMo material in the music.)
||There’s Nothing Impossible
This rating is for the music that accompanies a celebrated YouTube video entitled “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us” by Prof. Michael Wesch. (more…)