Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Debating on Music

How does one debate about music? Well, in the same way as one might debate on anything else. We begin with a good question. Whether Mozart’s music is better than Beethoven’s or whether the trumpet is superior to the violin is a matter of opinion and best saved for informal discussion rather than formal debate. Debate questions can be “yes” or “no” questions, but must include a “why” with either answer, and have a relevant significance to the topic as a whole. A good debate question, for example, would be more along the lines of “Does knowledge of music history positively influence a piece’s performance?” This question can be answered with a yes or a no, but is best answered with a “why”, and its resolution carries implications for the music world.

As with any debate, the question is only answerable using facts to support a point. The main difference between musical debate and, say, historical debate, is the evidence used for this support. Whereas in historical debates, dates, documents and historiographies are used for evidence, the musical debater must use recordings, literature on music, scores and other less tangible sources. If I were to argue in favor of the aforementioned debate question, I would have to find examples of performances (sound and video recordings) or studies that indicate an improvement on the piece with knowledge of its history. It’s always better to show than tell in debate. The best points are backed with solid, unbiased evidence that clearly illustrates your position.

Really, musical debate is no different from any other debate – you pick a side, you find facts that defend your side, and you present your arguments in a neat manner. Is it better than regular debate? Now, that’s a matter of opinion.


At 9/10/2006 6:59 PM, Blogger Renee said...

the trumpet is indeed superior to the violin! there's nothing to debate! hehe

At 9/10/2006 7:10 PM, Blogger Becca said...

Well, the voice is superior to both of them... juuuust kidding =)

At 9/10/2006 7:32 PM, Blogger Becca said...

I'm noticing that I'm getting more angry in my comments, or argumentative if you will. It's like I want to argue for my view of how to debate on music! But I don't want to make anyone mad, because a) that'd be rude, b) I see you guys everyday, and c) I'm drawing on my own experience of debate, and I know you guys have different experiences, so who's to say mine is the "right" one?

This is messed up... my head hurts.

At 9/10/2006 7:38 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

Becca you made really good points by simply stating what a debate is, and in all debates clarity is much appreciated.

At 9/10/2006 8:55 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

I like how you put the fact that there has to be a "why". You have to be able to back your point up.

At 9/10/2006 9:11 PM, Blogger Godfather Outlaw said...

you made your points clear and easy to read. good job.

At 9/10/2006 10:34 PM, Blogger Vera Lynn Waters said...

hey becca. i like your last paragraph. good conclusions always mark a good essay/paper. and just for the record, beethoven is better than mozart cuz mozart is a pain in the behind to play. and we all know that the violin completely dominates over the trumpet (sorry renee, but it's true).


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