Fine arts/music

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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Matt Weiner »

I'm not really clear on what the basis for treating the academic/trash split in film exactly the same as in music is supposed to be. I'll also note for any Yaphian distributional conservatives out there that academic film has been a part of the acceptable misc arts answer space for as long as arts has been a category in ACF and elsewhere, whereas it's never, in practice, been acceptable to write music questions on rock/hip hop/pop music of the last 60 years for non-trash subjects.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

perlnerd666 wrote:I would protest the question as "ad hominem," but it's understandable—maybe 10 HS tournaments (plus HSNCT and NASAT), and then quite bit of packet reading.
So, uh, get over yourself. I have approximately a billion times more experience with quizbowl than you, having played hundreds of games since 2005 at basically all levels of the game imaginable, directing more tournaments by myself than you have played in your entire career (and been involved in the direction of way more), and moderated hundreds more games for tons of high school and college teams, again, at all levels of the game. I also am better at music than any other category in the game and have won arts tournaments in incredibly strong fields because of that knowledge. I in fact have many mountains of evidence more than you do to judge quizbowl, so as much as you may not like it and want to try and discredit that fact as "ad hominem" because it proves we're on unequal footing, I in fact deserve to pull that trump card here and tell you I know infinitely more about this than you, and just because you are a decent high school player who has played a large number of NAQT events, where they almost never ask about music, does not mean your opinion is inherently informed or valid. When people with way more experience are telling you you are wrong, maybe you should realize that means something, rather than rail against them as if the fact you are a person means you have an equally worthwhile opinion as every other person. Watch a lot of teams, especially bad ones, realize music is literally the category quizbowlers are the WORST at, without question, and actually try to figure out what people really know who aren't music experts, and then come back to the discussion.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by vinteuil »

As I understand it, this discussion is very much more a philosophical enquiry into the distinctions possible between "art" and "popular" music and film; I appreciate the fact that I have no experience with collegiate quizbowl, but the original question
Are there any other genres of music that might be considered art (as opposed to trash)?

Recently, it looks like the circuit has decided that art film can include modern films. Can the same be said about popular modern music? Or older music like blues or folk music?
does not require that sort of experience at all. I may have overstepped a few bounds in the ensuing discussion, I freely admit.

One possibility that occurs to me is adding 1/1 for "art movies and art popular music" or something else like that ("academic trash?") and somehow taking that out of the trash/misc./fine arts; however, I understand that suggesting such a solution does in fact put me in danger of erring on the wrong side of the discussion again (thanks to Leucippe and Clitophon for a very nice post as regards that).
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

theMoMA wrote:
felgon123 wrote:Anyone who studies film will study Martin Scorsese. I'm not sure it's true, though, that anyone who studies music will study The Beatles, and that's what seems to me to be the important distinction here. I don't study music, so I may be wrong about that; I'm just clarifying what the argument for newer film is.
I think, as John's characterization of Brian Wilson would indicate above, that you are wrong. I don't take issue with the tenor of your argument, to be clear, I just think there's a disconnect between what you're arguing for film and what others are saying about artists like Brian Wilson and The Beatles in this thread. It seems to me that Alien and Brian Wilson are both "pop culture" in the sense that we tend to approach them from that standpoint. But we can also approach both from a serious academic standpoint because they have independent academic merit and academics have studied them because of it.
You're kind of twisting John's claim here. John said Brian Wilson was an important composer that some people study; Tommy is claiming that some people may study Brian Wilson, but many or most do not. I see no contradiction between these viewpoints.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by theMoMA »

Even if those views are commensurable, my point is that it twists logic to claim that, for two sets of things that 99% of people approach from a pop culture perspective, one set is "art," while the other is not, despite the fact that both also have independent underlying importance in their respective areas of academic study. I'm fine with the idea that "some things are trash, some things are not, and delineating the categories is a difficult task that depends on the writer's feel." But if we're using vastly different ideas of what constitutes trash in categories that stand right next to each other in the distribution, well, why are we doing that?

In sum, if this is a valid argument:
The point of the academic/trash distinction is to make sure people do something other than listen to Pink Floyd in order to succeed at quizbowl. Yes, the Beatles are a good band. No, they are not what the arts distribution is for.
How is this not?
The point of the academic/trash distinction is to make sure people do something other than watch Schindler's List in order to succeed at quizbowl. Yes, Steven Spielberg is a good director. No, he is not what the arts distribution is for.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Cheynem »

I don't see anything incommensurate with those two statements.

I think the more accurate example for the second quotation would be something like "Raiders of the Lost Ark is not what the art film distribution is for." Even though Spielberg is widely studied and Raiders is offered as a good example of timing/tension, etc. in film studies classes, I don't think we need to ask about that--Schindler's List is probably more borderline, and within small doses, I wouldn't mind seeing academic questions on. My general criteria for academic film questions is: is it accessible (so, probably not asking about Jacques Tati for ACF Fall), is it "important" (most things are, but this means no questions on You, Me, and Dupree), and does it go beyond surface level popularity--i.e., is this something that requires a little more work than a typical trip to Blockbuster to see? (so this would rule out for me, stuff like Star Wars, E.T., Snow White--all pretty important stuff). There's borderline things--I personally wouldn't write an academic question on The Godfather because I think it's a bit too culturally familiar, but there was a very good one at NASAT about it.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by cvdwightw »

Matt Weiner wrote:I'm not really clear on what the basis for treating the academic/trash split in film exactly the same as in music is supposed to be.
I think what Andrew's arguing is that it's incumbent on Tommy to show that there is a basis for treating the academic/trash split in film differently than in misc. auditory arts (and other categories).

There are two ways of looking at the academic/trash split.

The argument generally made is that quizbowl's definition of "trash" is basically anything considered "popular culture" and "academic" is "anything with some academic merit that is not trash":
1. People should have to engage things other than popular culture to earn points at quizbowl.
2. There are borderline cases of whether or not something is considered "popular culture." Generally, writers and players become better at intuiting the "correct" distinction of these borderline cases with experience writing and playing quizbowl.

The argument I think Tommy is trying to make is that quizbowl's definition of "academic" should be closer to academia's definition of "academic" and that "trash" should be simply "not academic":
1. People should have to engage things in an academic manner to earn points at quizbowl.
2. There are borderline cases of whether or not something is engaged "in an academic manner." Generally, writers and players become better at intuiting the "correct" distinction of these borderline cases with experience engaging in a real-world study of the discipline.

If the standard argument is valid for music, literature, and most other categories with an academic/trash distinction, then why should film be held to a different standard? If film's definition of "quizbowl academic" moves closer to "what is studied by people who study film," then why can a similar argument not be made in other categories?
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by felgon123 »

felgon123 wrote:With all due respect, Andrew, this is a misrepresentation of my argument. I do not think that film should encompass both "film that we engage from an artistic standpoint" and "film that we engage from a pop culture standpoint." Rather, I think it should encompass "film that people studying film engage from an artistic standpoint," and that alone. Part of the logic behind my thinking is that refusing to ask questions on a newer director like Martin Scorsese is truly robbing people who study film of potential points. Anyone who studies film will study Martin Scorsese. I'm not sure it's true, though, that anyone who studies music will study The Beatles, and that's what seems to me to be the important distinction here. I don't study music, so I may be wrong about that; I'm just clarifying what the argument for newer film is. Also, with film, the scholarship keeps up with the new material coming out pretty vigorously, so the time delay for critical evaluation that John skillfully described is much less significant. The relative newness of film as a medium may explain this to an extent. I imagine (again, I might be wrong) that a large portion of musicologists couldn't care less about The Beatles, let alone contemporary bands, but most film scholars, even those that specialize in something as esoteric as Nazi cinema, are nonetheless interested in what Christopher Nolan is putting out.
I'm reposting that because no one has directly responded to it yet, and I still think it's valid. I'll put it in slightly different terms. The idea that you could take even an introductory survey of film without encountering Martin Scorsese (or Steven Spielberg, or The Godfather) is absurd. Maybe I'm just really out of the loop here, but I'm pretty sure you could spend your entire life studying music and never be required to analyze The Beatles. Martin Scorsese is central to the canon of film history, with a position comparable to, say, Haydn in music history. I'm sorry, but film is a popular medium, and a lot of people have seen some great films. Some are referenced in popular culture quite a bit, but so is Romeo and Juliet, and I don't see anyone saying that Shakespeare is too popular and should be counted as trash. Again, maybe I'm missing something here, but excluding Brian Wilson from fine arts doesn't seem to be doing any grave injustice to quizbowlers who study music. Excluding modern English-language films (because many people have seen them?) is cutting an entire artistic canon in half. So yes, supposing that The Beatles objectively qualify as fine arts (which I actually don't believe), I would argue that film should be held to a somewhat different standard than music, the reason being that following Dwight's first academic/trash definition severely cripples the distribution, which makes film different from all other categories.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by vinteuil »

felgon123 wrote: I'm reposting that because no one has directly responded to it yet, and I still think it's valid. I'll put it in slightly different terms. The idea that you could take even an introductory survey of film without encountering Martin Scorsese (or Steven Spielberg, or The Godfather) is absurd. Maybe I'm just really out of the loop here, but I'm pretty sure you could spend your entire life studying music and never be required to analyze The Beatles. Martin Scorsese is central to the canon of film history, with a position comparable to, say, Haydn in music history.
I'm going to have to strongly disagree with that. Maybe an introductory survey of english-language film. And let's consider that, say, Grout and Palisca (the most-used survey textbook for Music History) include Public Enemy as well as the Beatles.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Horned Screamer wrote:
perlnerd666 wrote:I would protest the question as "ad hominem," but it's understandable—maybe 10 HS tournaments (plus HSNCT and NASAT), and then quite bit of packet reading.
So, uh, get over yourself. I have approximately a billion times more experience with quizbowl than you, having played hundreds of games since 2005 at basically all levels of the game imaginable, directing more tournaments by myself than you have played in your entire career (and been involved in the direction of way more), and moderated hundreds more games for tons of high school and college teams, again, at all levels of the game. I also am better at music than any other category in the game and have won arts tournaments in incredibly strong fields because of that knowledge. I in fact have many mountains of evidence more than you do to judge quizbowl, so as much as you may not like it and want to try and discredit that fact as "ad hominem" because it proves we're on unequal footing, I in fact deserve to pull that trump card here and tell you I know infinitely more about this than you, and just because you are a decent high school player who has played a large number of NAQT events, where they almost never ask about music, does not mean your opinion is inherently informed or valid. When people with way more experience are telling you you are wrong, maybe you should realize that means something, rather than rail against them as if the fact you are a person means you have an equally worthwhile opinion as every other person. Watch a lot of teams, especially bad ones, realize music is literally the category quizbowlers are the WORST at, without question, and actually try to figure out what people really know who aren't music experts, and then come back to the discussion.
To address Charlie's correct argument in a generic sense:

An ad hominem attack has the form

A: I assert that p!
B: Hey, everyone, you shouldn't believe that p! After all, A has disgusting hygiene and is stupid!

and that's not followed through here. It's true that it is entirely possible for anyone, of any qualifications or background, to speak to the theory of distinctions between art and popular culture, and their specific experiences in life or personal properties (whether +highschooler or +blueeyes or -redhair) are not in and of themselves reasons to doubt their distinctions. But it's not true to extend that to the way that that distinction can translate into quizbowl. And no one is saying that it is impossible for p to be correct. But they are saying, effectively, that we ought to weight your evidence proportional to your quizbowl experience. When we have several hundred tournaments directed on one side of the argument, and a few dozen tournaments played on yours (including people who have taken similar positions to you in the past, at the time that they took them), it's appropriate for us to weight the evidence appropriately. Does that sound fair?
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by eliza.grames »

cvdwightw wrote:The argument I think Tommy is trying to make is that quizbowl's definition of "academic" should be closer to academia's definition of "academic" and that "trash" should be simply "not academic":
1. People should have to engage things in an academic manner to earn points at quizbowl.
2. There are borderline cases of whether or not something is engaged "in an academic manner."
Just to add to the confusion of what is "Trash" and what is "Other Academic" - a large portion of my classes study pop culture and related topics, which makes them academic in that context. Any topic can be the subject of academic discussion; for example, you can do a semiotic analysis of Dolce and Gabbana gang-rape ads, watch Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire to discuss rhetorical theory (which I've done in three separate classes), or do a study of intertextuality in R. Kelly's "Trapped in a Closet" and South Park. People in the comm department have even done dissertations on pornography, which is a perfectly academic subject in that context. This doesn't mean that R. Kelly is academic - it just means that he can be studied in an academic context, so the above point #1 doesn't really hold up. Pop culture can be a subcategory under "Other Academic" when it is studied in an academic matter. "Trash" is really just pop culture minus any academic context (e.g. if you watch "Trapped in a Closet" without any discussion of intertextuality).
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by theMoMA »

felgon123 wrote:The idea that you could take even an introductory survey of film without encountering Martin Scorsese (or Steven Spielberg, or The Godfather) is absurd. Maybe I'm just really out of the loop here, but I'm pretty sure you could spend your entire life studying music and never be required to analyze The Beatles.
Yes, you have correctly identified the fact that "film" is one thing, while "miscellaneous auditory arts" is many things. You could spend your entire life studying music without studying The Beatles. You could also spend your whole life studying art without ever watching a film, but that wouldn't validate the argument "film is not art." Your argument above has a similar sticking point.

I want to reiterate that I'm not taking the position that we must write art tossups on Brian Wilson, Pink Floyd, or The Beatles. I'm also not condemning art tossups on popular film. I'm just saying that it's entirely incoherent to say that film art can draw freely from the realm of popular culture while all other areas of art must never encroach on that realm.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by felgon123 »

Andrew, you keep responding to arguments I didn't make rather than the ones I did make. Put that quote back in context and you'll find it doesn't mean what your response implies it means. Also, my post explained exactly why it's not "incoherent" to treat film differently. I suggest you re-read it.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by theMoMA »

felgon123 wrote:Andrew, you keep responding to arguments I didn't make rather than the ones I did make. Put that quote back in context and you'll find it doesn't mean what your response implies it means. Also, my post explained exactly why it's not "incoherent" to treat film differently. I suggest you re-read it.
The gist of your argument is that "film scholars" treat modern film differently than "music scholars." I'm countering that "film" is a single academic discipline, while "music" (in the context of "other auditory arts") is not, so treating the issue as if we're comparing "film scholars" to nonexistent "other auditory arts scholars" is incoherent. There is no such thing as the latter, so of course you can study music without studying Brian Wilson, just like you can study music without studying choreography, or ballet, or opera. "Music" is a category that encompasses many subdisciplines; "film" is not.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by theMoMA »

Here's my attempt to sum up the arguments so far.

1. "The point of the academic/trash distinction is to make sure people do something other than listen to Pink Floyd in order to succeed at quizbowl." (the Weinerian argument)

2. When we "engage with [an artist] in the same ways and in the same venues in which we engage with his more artistically-minded contemporaries," then his work becomes art. (the Lawrencian argument)

3. "I think [art] should encompass '[art] that people studying [art] engage from an artistic standpoint,' and that alone." (the Casalaspian argument)

None of these arguments, taken to their logical conclusion, works in conjunction with any of the others.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by magin »

This argument seems to be getting a little far afield to me; I think it might make sense to bring the discussion back to what advice could be useful for question writers.

For music, I think that the blues/Tin Pan Alley/the Great American Songbook/some musicals are solidly askable in the other arts subdistribution. (John has articulated the reasons why better than I can.) However, I wouldn't write a ton of questions about that stuff--maybe one or two per tournament, and I wouldn't lose sleep if a tournament didn't have any questions in those areas.

For film, I think it's wise to err on the side of caution. If an answer is in a gray area and you're not sure whether it's appropriate for an academic tournament, I'd choose an answer you're more comfortable with or consult with the editors of the tournament before writing on it. I think it's great if people with film knowledge write some questions that gradually move the answer space, but if you don't have that knowledge, it's not the worst thing to stick to classic film.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Khanate »

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
4) Consider an album like Pet Sounds that is simultaneously popular and (at least to some extent) considered to have artistic and technical merit. There is obviously a way to write a tossup on this album that is very clearly trash. Is there a way to write a good tossup on this album that focuses exclusively on its musical/artistic/production techniques, similar to what Tommy might do with a tossup on Alien? If so, does such a tossup belong in the "misc. auditory fine arts" distribution?
I think without question Brian Wilson is one of the major American composers of the 20th century, but he also belongs in the Trash distribution. This is an instance where the Trash / Fine Arts distinction is not a value judgment. Certain elements (what we hope are the best elements) of "pop culture" become simply "culture" with time. It is not true that all classical music today is simply popular music of a different era. There were distinctions between art and popular genres back then, too. Were we playing quizbowl in the 1870's, Brahms (most of his stuff, anyway) would be in the Fine Arts distribution and Johann Strauss Jr. would be in the Trash. Now, we are fine with putting Johann Strauss in the Fine Arts distribution. We can only do that because we are in age where his continued presence in our midst is no longer as part of "pop culture", and we now engage with him in the same ways and in the same venues in which we engage with his more artistically-minded contemporaries. We are in a post-jazz age, and so enduring culturally significant jazz goes in Fine Arts instead of Trash. Until we're in a post-rock age, we can't put Brian Wilson and The Beatles in the Fine Arts just yet.
Note: As a person who has only played in probably 5 college tournaments ever, I may accidentally consider things from an HS perspective that aren't applicable to College.

I agree that this looks like an excellent way to classify "fine arts music", but I fail to see how jazz prevails as we are in a "post-jazz" age, but how something like grunge would not, even though we are in a "post-grunge" age. We are also in a post-disco and post-funk age. Also I fail to see how this separates a popular folk song writer like Steven Foster from another important folk-esque group like Simon and Garfunkel (who are also nearly 60 years old as well). You could say that the group is "rock" but I think that is looking too far into expansions of rock, as we don't even see consistent drums in their music.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

You do know that jazz is a much larger genre of music than "grunge," and that you are comparing apples to oranges by conflating it with a subgenre of rock. If you wanted to fairly compare grunge to something, compare it to, like, hard bop, otherwise, it's a pretty inaccurate framing.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by grapesmoker »

Oh man, if only classical music tossups could finally be on individual songs from In Utero, I'd finally show Aaron Rosenberg the what-for!
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

grapesmoker wrote:Oh man, if only classical music tossups could finally be on individual songs from In Utero, I'd finally show Aaron Rosenberg the what-for!
And we now have the first glimpse of what quizbowl will look like in 2100
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by gyre and gimble »

Out of curiosity, how would people's respective arguments approach the following:

- Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, in comparison to John Cage compositions
- Church of Anthrax, a collaboration between John Cale and Terry Riley
- someone on the threshold of contemporary classical and experimental rock like Glenn Branca
- free jazz ranging from Albert Ayler to Sun Ra to generally-categorized-as-a-rock-band Sun City Girls, all of whom probably had underground followings similar to those experienced by your Sonic Youths and Beat Happenings, before becoming more exposed after their prime.

I think borderline examples like these are where different stances should really be evaluated.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Muriel Axon »

gyre and gimble wrote:Out of curiosity, how would people's respective arguments approach the following:

- Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, in comparison to John Cage compositions
- Church of Anthrax, a collaboration between John Cale and Terry Riley
- someone on the threshold of contemporary classical and experimental rock like Glenn Branca
- free jazz ranging from Albert Ayler to Sun Ra to generally-categorized-as-a-rock-band Sun City Girls, all of whom probably had underground followings similar to those experienced by your Sonic Youths and Beat Happenings, before becoming more exposed after their prime.

I think borderline examples like these are where different stances should really be evaluated.
I believe Sun Ra was tossed up at CO (edit: Lully Fine Arts) a few years ago. I think free jazz ought to be considered fine arts per John Lawrence's argument earlier in the thread.

Glenn Branca is closer to a true borderline case. A clue about him on a question about something related wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. If you want to write a question on Branca himself, my approach would be to write it, submit it (as other fine arts), and see what kind of response you get.

I've never heard Church of Anthrax, so I can't really comment on it. I can't see the album ever being tossed up anywhere. If you use it in a clue for a Riley tossup, I think it's fine as classical music (unless the focus is on Riley's poppier efforts, in which case general fine arts?). If it's a clue for a Cale tossup, trash may be better, but it depends on the other clues you use.

There's not much distinctive to Metal Machine Music (I listened to all of it, qualifying as an idiot by Lou Reed's standards) so I can't see it being tossed up. A question on Lou Reed would almost certainly be trash, in my opinion.

I wrote in the other thread:
In those areas where classical and pop/rock music seem to blend together, use common sense. Yes, Nico Muhly worked on Veckatimest, but that doesn't make Grizzly Bear classical. Yes, Glass wrote symphonies borrowing themes from Bowie albums, but he's not rock or pop. If it really could go either way, write it and we'll see if the quiz bowl world is ready.
Your cases are more borderline than the ones I gave, and I think that for packet submissions, the "write it and let the editors decide" philosophy works pretty well. If you are one of the editors - well, I wouldn't know, but it's your call.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by gyre and gimble »

The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote:
I believe Sun Ra was tossed up at CO (edit: Lully Fine Arts) a few years ago. I think free jazz ought to be considered fine arts per John Lawrence's argument earlier in the thread.

Glenn Branca is closer to a true borderline case. A clue about him on a question about something related wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. If you want to write a question on Branca himself, my approach would be to write it, submit it (as other fine arts), and see what kind of response you get.

I've never heard Church of Anthrax, so I can't really comment on it. I can't see the album ever being tossed up anywhere. If you use it in a clue for a Riley tossup, I think it's fine as classical music (unless the focus is on Riley's poppier efforts, in which case general fine arts?). If it's a clue for a Cale tossup, trash may be better, but it depends on the other clues you use.

There's not much distinctive to Metal Machine Music (I listened to all of it, qualifying as an idiot by Lou Reed's standards) so I can't see it being tossed up. A question on Lou Reed would almost certainly be trash, in my opinion.

I wrote in the other thread:
In those areas where classical and pop/rock music seem to blend together, use common sense. Yes, Nico Muhly worked on Veckatimest, but that doesn't make Grizzly Bear classical. Yes, Glass wrote symphonies borrowing themes from Bowie albums, but he's not rock or pop. If it really could go either way, write it and we'll see if the quiz bowl world is ready.
Your cases are more borderline than the ones I gave, and I think that for packet submissions, the "write it and let the editors decide" philosophy works pretty well. If you are one of the editors - well, I wouldn't know, but it's your call.
I think you misunderstood me. I'm obviously not asking whether it's all right to briefly mention something in a tossup that's not really about that thing. I'm also not asking you for advice on whether I should submit by Glenn Branca tossup to ACF Fall. I'm asking how these examples fit into people's ideological stances on what constitutes quizbowl fine arts, because I find that an interesting and important question for this thread.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Muriel Axon »

gyre and gimble wrote:I'm obviously not asking whether it's all right to briefly mention something in a tossup that's not really about that thing.
I wasn't answering that question; I was saying, "well hey, even if Mr. Conservative Editor doesn't think Glenn Branca is fine arts, it may be more acceptable to add a Glenn Branca clue in a tossup on [insert related topic] which is definitely fine arts (as long as you use lots of definitely-fine-arts clues."
I'm asking how these examples fit into people's ideological stances on what constitutes quizbowl fine arts, because I find that an interesting and important question for this thread.
I don't see how this is a distinct question. If topic X is not fine arts, one shouldn't submit it as fine arts, and if topic X is fine arts, it's okay to submit it as fine arts. I think we've also established that there are "fuzzy" areas in what counts as fine arts. I went ahead and said "okay, I think this stuff is fine arts, and I think this other stuff isn't" (based on reasoning others expressed earlier in the thread and a pinch of my own arbitrary judgment). So that's how those examples fit into my ideological stance of what constitutes fine arts.

I admit my post could have used a bit more explaining. For example, I wrote "I can't see X being tossed up" to clarify that I wasn't going to deal with the case of whether X is fine arts or not; I would deal with some artist or other entity with which X is associated, and for which X could potentially be a clue. The question of whether Metal Machine Music is fine arts loses interest for me because Metal Machine Music stands no chance of realistically being asked, and my preferred approach is not to formulate abstract principles based on hypothetical situations that will not occur. On the other hand, people who do like to consider questions like this in the abstract may be more interested in whether MMM is fine arts if they want to clarify their own positions. But that's not me.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by gyre and gimble »

The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote:
I don't see how this is a distinct question. If topic X is not fine arts, one shouldn't submit it as fine arts, and if topic X is fine arts, it's okay to submit it as fine arts. I think we've also established that there are "fuzzy" areas in what counts as fine arts. I went ahead and said "okay, I think this stuff is fine arts, and I think this other stuff isn't" (based on reasoning others expressed earlier in the thread and a pinch of my own arbitrary judgment). So that's how those examples fit into my ideological stance of what constitutes fine arts.

I admit my post could have used a bit more explaining. For example, I wrote "I can't see X being tossed up" to clarify that I wasn't going to deal with the case of whether X is fine arts or not; I would deal with some artist or other entity with which X is associated, and for which X could potentially be a clue. The question of whether Metal Machine Music is fine arts loses interest for me because Metal Machine Music stands no chance of realistically being asked, and my preferred approach is not to formulate abstract principles based on hypothetical situations that will not occur. On the other hand, people who do like to consider questions like this in the abstract may be more interested in whether MMM is fine arts if they want to clarify their own positions. But that's not me.
So that's where you're misunderstanding me. Arbitrary judgment is not the same as an ideology and my question was, like you say, intended for a more "abstract" (though I'm not sure if that's the right word) and less quizbowl-practical discussion. How people like Andrew, Tommy, or Jacob who have actually presented ideological, as opposed to practical or personal, opinions in this thread would deal with topics like the ones I mentioned would help clarify the more broader discussion of popular music. Saying, "OK well I don't think this will ever come up so whatever" is not a valid approach to this question because it is literally avoiding the question. Unless you're saying that question shouldn't be answered at all, in which case I'm confused why you bothered to reply to my post in the first place.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by ThisIsMyUsername »

gyre and gimble wrote: So that's where you're misunderstanding me. Arbitrary judgment is not the same as an ideology and my question was, like you say, intended for a more "abstract" (though I'm not sure if that's the right word) and less quizbowl-practical discussion. How people like Andrew, Tommy, or Jacob who have actually presented ideological, as opposed to practical or personal, opinions in this thread would deal with topics like the ones I mentioned would help clarify the more broader discussion of popular music. Saying, "OK well I don't think this will ever come up so whatever" is not a valid approach to this question because it is literally avoiding the question. Unless you're saying that question shouldn't be answered at all, in which case I'm confused why you bothered to reply to my post in the first place.
You don't mention me by name here, but I assume your question was also directed at me, and since my ideological stance has been invoked in other posts, I'll take a stab at your examples.
Out of curiosity, how would people's respective arguments approach the following:

- Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, in comparison to John Cage compositions
The fact that Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music might have more artistic principles in common with (let's say) the work of John Cage or Steve Reich or whomever than it does with his own work with the Velvet Underground is irrelevant to the metrics I suggest we apply. It may be "sound art" as opposed to pop, but it is still "sound art" written in a rock-oriented rather than jazz-oriented or classical-oriented way, and therefore does not belong in the Fine Arts distribution, according to the criteria I have proposed.
- Church of Anthrax, a collaboration between John Cale and Terry Riley
- someone on the threshold of contemporary classical and experimental rock like Glenn Branca
I have no knowledge of this Terry Riley album, or of the work of Glenn Branca, so I can't speak to them directly. It might be valuable, however, for me to further explicate my views on artists crossing over between genres in general terms, and then to discuss how I would attempt to apply it to situations. The reason, let's say, Paul McCartney's classical music (or Dave Brubeck's, etc.) should probably not come up in quizbowl is that it is utterly insignificant classical music that almost no one engaging with classical music cares about. The reason we exclude it is not because Paul McCartney's main body of work exists in excluded genres, but rather because his contribution to the genres we do care about is insignificant. However, let's say that he actually manages to write a great classical piece worthy of inclusion; then, the following things should be true (by my logic): 1. If that work appears in the Fine Arts distribution, it should be as Classical Music rather than as Misc. Fine Arts, so long as it is in a genre that would not normally be in Misc. Fine Arts (e.g. opera). The fact that Paul McCartney primarily writes non-classical music would not change the fact that this piece is classical. 2. The fact that Paul McCartney had finally written an important work of classical music would not suddenly make the rest of his (non-classical) works fair game for the Fine Arts distribution, because they are still written in the genres we exclude from the Fine Arts distribution.

So, Philip Glass' symphonies based on David Bowie are (explicitly) classical and are fair game, but David Bowie himself is not. The fact that Terry Riley has written classical music does not automatically mean that any musical project he is involved in should be considered as such. If the examples you mention were presented to me as an editor, I would probably research them to try to determine: 1. Whether they belong to one of the genres/traditions that we include in the canon (my arguments about approaching this can be found in an earlier post). 2. Whether they are significant enough to that genre/tradition to merit inclusion. My instinct for both of these examples would be "no", but I'm not terribly informed on their particulars, and could be convinced otherwise.
- free jazz ranging from Albert Ayler to Sun Ra to generally-categorized-as-a-rock-band Sun City Girls, all of whom probably had underground followings similar to those experienced by your Sonic Youths and Beat Happenings, before becoming more exposed after their prime.
Free jazz is an avant-garde sub genre within jazz. It definitely falls within the Misc. Fine Arts distribution. My own attempt to include this in the canon (a tossup on Ornette Coleman I submitted for 2010 ACF Nats) was cut, but I would support inclusion of questions on the subject (though, I think even someone like Sun Ra is not quite ready to be tossed up outside of the auspices of a side tournament; free jazz is still probably mainly bonus fodder, for now).
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Cheynem »

I asked about Sun Ra in my trash tournament.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by vinteuil »

gyre and gimble wrote: So that's where you're misunderstanding me. Arbitrary judgment is not the same as an ideology and my question was, like you say, intended for a more "abstract" (though I'm not sure if that's the right word) and less quizbowl-practical discussion. How people like Andrew, Tommy, or Jacob who have actually presented ideological, as opposed to practical or personal, opinions in this thread would deal with topics like the ones I mentioned would help clarify the more broader discussion of popular music. Saying, "OK well I don't think this will ever come up so whatever" is not a valid approach to this question because it is literally avoiding the question. Unless you're saying that question shouldn't be answered at all, in which case I'm confused why you bothered to reply to my post in the first place.
At some point, if this turns into the purely ideological argument for which I mistook it at first, then this should thread should be split and that section put in "off topic"—and I will certainly post.

The post that caught my attention most here was that players don't want their already-tiny section of the distribution being encroached upon, and I think that's very very fair. I (personally) would love to see most of the Sousa or Offenbach that's asked about excluded by the same rule of thumb, but since the NY Phil can be caught playing them, it makes sense to me that players would expect to see them in this section of the distribution. [Then again, bits of the Detroit Philharmonic played on Motown albums, and if I recall correctly, George Stauffer once mentioned a Rutgers Symphony/Jay-Z collaboration to me]
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo »

perlnerd666 wrote:I (personally) would love to see most of the Sousa or Offenbach that's asked about excluded by the same rule of thumb, but since the NY Phil can be caught playing them, it makes sense to me that players would expect to see them in this section of the distribution. [Then again, bits of the Detroit Philharmonic played on Motown albums, and if I recall correctly, George Stauffer once mentioned a Rutgers Symphony/Jay-Z collaboration to me]
I'm confused by this statement. Do you mean that Sousa and Offenbach belong in fine arts because orchestras play them all the time? The fact that a piece is played by an orchestra doesn't mean we writers put it in the fine arts distribution automatically; heck, classical orchestras give pop concerts all the time, and they play on popular albums all the time. Sousa and Offenbach are in the fine arts distribution because, like John said, they have moved from "pop culture" to "culture" with time (Offenbach more so than Sousa, but anyway...). Jay-Z's performance with the Rutgers Symphony is still pop culture because, even though it features instrumentation more commonly used in classical music, it is still constructed within a pop/rap/non-classical framework. The standard symphonic repertoire goes in the fine arts distribution because it consists of pieces written within the classical framework specifically for classical orchestra.

I've stayed out of this thread until now but I'll add my two cents. For what it's worth, I submitted a bonus on Terry Riley to ACF Nats 2009 that mentioned Church of Anthrax and John Cale in the leadin, and IIRC, it made it through, though I have no idea if the editor recognized who John Cale is. Had I made it a bonus on John Cale, it would have gone to the trash distribution, even though Cale is a classically-trained violist, because we primarily engage with him as a popular musician. Yes, there is a grey area of answer space between the domains of serious music and popular music. But history, not quizbowl, is the force that decides what becomes "fine arts" and what does not. As Jonathan and John have advocated upthread, we can probe the grey area in a few questions per tournament because it consists of works that, for one reason or another, have become a less ubiquitous part of the popular culture framework from which they were born, and thus cannot be immediately dismissed as trash. If a tournament were to fill the entire "other" fine arts distribution with works from the grey area, I expect the ensuing discussion thread would degenerate into an ideological battle over the nature of art, because if we tried to draw the dividing line within the context of quizbowl, we couldn't separate the ideological from the practical.

Who knows? At some point maybe In Utero will be considered fine art. It may not happen in our lifetime, but that's just how it is. Quizbowl isn't the proper arena for making the world accept grunge as art.

edited to correct quotation sources and grammar
Last edited by Lagotto Romagnolo on Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Muriel Axon »

The Superfluous Man wrote:I'm confused by this statement. Do you mean that Sousa and Offenbach belong in fine arts because orchestras play them all the time? The fact that a piece is played by an orchestra doesn't mean we writers put it in the fine arts distribution automatically; heck, classical orchestras give pop concerts all the time, and they play on popular albums all the time. Sousa and Offenbach are in the fine arts distribution because, like John said, they have moved from "pop culture" to "culture" with time (Offenbach more so than Sousa, but anyway...). Jay-Z's performance with the Rutgers Symphony is still pop culture because, even though it features instrumentation more commonly used in classical music, it is still constructed within a pop/rap/non-classical framework. The standard symphonic repertoire goes in the fine arts distribution because it consists of pieces written within the classical framework specifically for classical orchestra.
I think what Jacob is trying to say is that he, personally, would love to see Sousa and Offenbach removed from fine arts (at least in some cases), but that other people might like to see them remain because they're thought of as classical and other people think of them as classical. That puts his remark about the DSO and Motown into context, since Motown music presumably belongs in the trash distribution, yet an orchestra played on some of it. The difference is that nobody thinks of Motown as fine arts (for the purpose of quiz bowl, at least). So I'm 99% certain Jacob would agree with you here.

That said, I'm not sure anyone actually made the arguments he's attacking. I guess I'm not really clear on what's going on here.
I've stayed out of this thread until now but I'll add my two cents. For what it's worth, I submitted a bonus on Terry Riley to ACF Nats 2009 that mentioned Church of Anthrax and John Cale in the leadin, and IIRC, it made it through, though I have no idea if the editor recognized who John Cale is. Had I made it a bonus on John Cale, it would have gone to the trash distribution, even though Cale is a classically-trained violist, because we primarily engage with him as a popular musician. Yes, there is a grey area of answer space between the domains of serious music and popular music. But history, not quizbowl, is the force that decides what becomes "fine arts" and what does not. As Jonathan and John have advocated upthread, we can probe the grey area in a few questions per tournament because it consists of works that, for one reason or another, have become a less ubiquitous part of the popular culture framework from which they were born, and thus cannot be immediately dismissed as trash. If a tournament were to fill the entire "other" fine arts distribution with works from the grey area, I expect the ensuing discussion thread degenerate into an ideological battle over the nature of art, because if we tried to draw the dividing line within the context of quizbowl, we couldn't separate the ideological from the practical.
Yeah, I would say that I broadly agree. I would add that there doesn't have to be a "fact of the matter" about what ought to be considered trash and what ought to be considered fine arts. No amount of abstract theorizing is going to remove the grey area, and that's perfectly fine.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by theMoMA »

I'll reiterate (and perhaps condense) what I said before. Assessing whether something is "art" for the purposes of a particular subdistribution should be a two-step process. Ask:

1. Do people interact with the person or piece in question as art?

2. Can a quizbowl question test knowledge of the person or piece as artist/art, or will the question inevitably collapse into testing pop culture knowledge?

Consider Paul McCartney for the purposes of the classical music category. He has composed works in the genre, and yes, people interact with it as classical music. But very few people do, so any question on McCartney would probably go dead until rock clues started coming up. So it's very hard to say "yes, toss up McCartney in the classical music distribution," because no one knows clues about McCartney as classical composer.

Now consider Paul McCartney for the purposes of the "other musical arts" distribution. He has composed both classical and rock music that people interact with as art in those genres. And it's possible to test for knowledge of both of those genres (classical stuff as perhaps a lead-in, and rock stuff as the body of the tossup).

As a side note, a body of serious scholarship and artistic appreciate undeniably exists around rock music, and for major artists in that genre, it's possible to test for that knowledge. The Weinerian argument holds something like "you shouldn't be rewarded with art points for listening to popular music," but I don't see an issue with rewarding people for listening to enduring rock music any more than I see an issue with rewarding people for watching popular films that also happen to be art, or looking at famous paintings that happen to be particularly prominent in the popular consciousness. If it's art and you can test for it as such, do it! Any question on anything should focus on why that thing is academically important, so I'd frown on a trashy tossup on Paul McCartney (filled with, say, music video clues) just like I'd frown on a trashy question on Citizen Kane or John Philip Sousa or whatever.

Obviously, knowledge of relatively minor genres, such as rock and folk music, should be kept to a proper scope (zero to two questions per tournament, perhaps). But this is more a reflection of the fact that "other musical arts" encompasses many things worth asking about (ballet, jazz, blues, dance, and blues among them already) than an attack on those forms as legitimate expressions of artistic merit. And classical music already has a privileged place in the distribution (at 1/1 per packet, as opposed to the usual one question per packet of other musical arts), and the popular genres we're talking about here are in contention only for the other arts spots, so that would serve to keep these genres correctly sized.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Cheynem »

I'm uncomfortable with tossing Paul McCartney up in the fine arts distro (mainly because it seems to rest on the premise that McCartney's rock music, which 90% of any audience would be buzzing on, is "art in those genres," because, well, almost anything can be an "art in a genre"). Is there serious scholarship around rock music in which people interact with it on an academic level? Yes. There is also serious scholarship around television shows (I should know, that's my thesis), rap music, video games, and well, just about anything. Are these all art? I could write a question on why American Idol is academically important. There are academic papers on Supernanny and my adviser wrote an influential article on Judge Judy, for example. I think in tossing Paul McCartney up as fine arts, it would inevitably fail your #2 question (just like questions on American Idol and Judge Judy would as well), unless you have a different definition of what "academic Paul McCartney knowledge is" (is it something different than songs or lyrics or albums?).

However, rather than get into a one-on-one argument with Andrew over this point, I'll just say that overall I think I agree with his general point about "scope." Matt Weiner said at one point that he wouldn't write a tossup on ___, but if one tossup on it appeared in a tournament, he would take it. However, if a whole tournament had like four tossups on '60s rock musicians in the other fine arts, well, that's a problem. So I guess if you want to push the envelope, give it a whirl, but don't push it too far.

Also, I'll say that I think opera appears way too much in quizbowl. Way, way too much.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by theMoMA »

I wouldn't be opposed to seeing artistically important television shows in the "other visual arts" category from time to time. The cinematography of the most groundbreaking TV shows seems potentially on similar footing with the artistic merit of film. Again, this is a once-a-tournament sort of thing, and only if done well.

If there's serious art scholarship (cultural scholarship is another thing, and I think you're possibly conflating the two) about a genre, that indicates to me that people interact with that genre as art. If testing about that interaction is possible, then I think a particular answer is a defensible choice for the arts distribution. If the question would devolve into "here's a bunch of music video and popular-culture clues, now here's some words your probably heard on a top-forty station on the way to the tournament," then I don't think it's a good question. If the question is a bunch of quacking for 99% of the field followed by "name this dude who was a Beatle along John, George, and Ringo," then I don't think it's a good question either. Every question we write still needs to test about what's important and what people actually know. That's basically the thrust of my framework: first, see if it's important, and second, see if the reason it's important is something that people can actually buzz on. If the set of meaningful clues and the set of buzzable clues don't overlap much, then it's not a good answer.

I also don't see any problem with clues about lyrics or instrumentation in more popular musical genres. (The argument seems to run that this is unacceptable because you could have heard these words on the radio while having fun, instead of while consumed in study in a cloister, which is presumably how people learn classical music.) Testing about things that people experience as art can include testing about the experience of watching or listening to the piece itself, even if some might have interacted with it as popular media. Asking about the plot and cinematography of The Godfather is fine, even though it's a popular movie that people watch for fun.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by AKKOLADE »

You guys making the McCartney might have a slightly better case with Joe Jackson (I still think it's wrong).
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Cheynem »

I see your point about the cultural/art studies discussion--yeah, I was conflating them. Sorry about that.

The thing about the "having fun while ___" thing is that it's not about "having fun," it's doing something beyond than the everyday activities of people, if this makes sense (the "effort" argument I was trying to make last night). You can hear Paul McCartney on the radio all the time--I hear him, my students hear him, my mom hears him, etc. It requires no effort, skill, or anything to listen to a Beatles song or a Wings song. Furthermore, almost 90% of any quizbowl audience (probably more) is going to know about Sir Paul's music from this simple fun interaction--listening to him on the radio or on a CD or whatever--and not from any academic study.

With classical music, you can obviously hear it on the radio and people do listen to it for fun, but it takes a little effort/skill to listen to the music and understand what's going on. If I were to poll my class on how many people had ever heard a Beatles song, I'd bet almost all of them had, but if I asked them the same question about a Mozart symphony, probably that number would drop considerably. Furthermore, a good portion of a quizbowl audience will have studied Mozart on some level of academic study.

This is why I generally try to avoid super popular films to ask about in the fine arts distro (I might avoid The Godfather, although it's been done very well before and it's sort of borderline) because of the "effort" thing and also the reason why I think several popular novels don't fit into the lit distro--almost all of the audience would not have confronted it within an academic setting. In terms of literary quality and impact, you could make an argument that Harry Potter probably deserves to be equally asked about as any number of shitty works quizbowl has no problem asking about, but the vast majority of people just don't interact with Harry Potter as anything besides a recreational setting. I think quizbowl works best in my opinion when it tries to go beyond the things that people interact with in their everyday, normal lives.

I am, of course, willing to accept a few experiments in this nature here and there, and this is just my opinion.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Come on guys, look at yourselves! You're really ready to say that rock music, which is still one of the predominant forms of popular entertainment, and which has been designed to be not especially complex music for mass consumption from day one, is a fine art now? Seriously? And TELEVISION? Cut this crap out, there's already a place for rock and television, and it's the pop culture distribution, and there's nothing that is solved by shifting trash over into the fine arts distribution and taking questions away from more academically rigorous topics, and freeing up space to ask about EVEN MORE trash! For the record, I am now also officially opposed to Tommy's move to introduce popular modern movies into the fine arts distribution on the same grounds, even though I am at least willing to acknowledge that those movies are occasionally more artistic than rock and TV, but we already have a space for them to come up, and they still are fundamentally popular culture right now.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Seriously, sometimes you people get all up in your heads with a bunch of crappy arguments which have a semblance of logic in them but which are still crappy arguments, and then you run with them forever, and it makes me think you need to get your good sense slapped into you.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by grapesmoker »

the mountain goats are fine art
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by theMoMA »

Horned Screamer wrote:You're really ready to say that [film], which is still one of the predominant forms of popular entertainment, and which has been designed to be not especially complex [visual media] for mass consumption from day one, is a fine art now? Seriously?
Considering that works just as well, we're somewhat obligated to figure out how to demarcate the line between what's art and what's not. I'm all for writers and editors making reasonable decisions based on their judgment, but this board is for discussion of quizbowl theory as well as practice, and I don't really think that the "come on guys" standard has any rigor or explanatory power.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Yeah but it's painfully embarrassing to read such ridiculous arguments about, like, what is, like, art, man?
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by AKKOLADE »

"Edie Brickell is fine, Art" - Paul Simon
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man »

Some of rock music and television is art. The only people who dispute that are braying, Bloomian (take your pick) windbags. The question is whether rock and television are academic. For a question to be considered academic, the content of the question should only contain things that most people would experience only through intellectual engagement. On that criterion, a question about Harry Potter that talks about its plot obviously would not be academic, while a question about Harry Potter that only contains references to Harry Potter scholarship obviously would be academic. However, a question that contains plot elements from episodes of Playhouse 90 could, I think uncontroversially, be included in the fine arts distribution because the vast majority of people who could get the question would have gained their knowledge through intellectual engagement. I'm sure that a question about Jimi Hendrix containing only clues that would be learned predominantly through intellectual engagement could be constructed, and it would be snobbish and odd to deem such a question "not academic."
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

To bring this discussion back to seriousness, I wanted to float another idea. It seems as though lots of tournaments already have a 1/1 Pop Culture-Your Choice distribution, and there's no reason why those pop culture tossups have to be written in such a, well, "trashy" way. If we want to honor a culturally significant TV show/borderline book/film/musical with a question that focusing on the artistic merit or whatever music theory, cultural insight, visual clues, etc. are usually overlooked when thinking of it as trash only, there's no reason those clues can't be accepted by editors in the pop culture area we have now. To the extent that trash is still in regular academic tournaments, I think it'd be interesting to start seeing things like a Billy Joel tossup leading off with a musical clue (cf. last year's BHSAT), or some of the fun things a Mike Cheyne type might have to say about Leave it to Beaver's cultural mores, in the packet's one trash question, and we're not crowding out other clear cases if we do so. At any rate, it'd be more interesting than the status quo where everyone flocks to their favorite childhood video game, a sports star, or the latest Nicki Minaj hit.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Stained Diviner »

Matt's right.

Also, the purpose of this board is to discuss quizbowl with an eye towards improving quizbowl.
The question is: "Will including Paul McCartney and S&G in the fine arts distribution improve quizbowl?"
The answer is, "No, not at all. Actually, it will make it worse."
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Cheynem »

Just so Charlie is clear, I was not advocating that television or rock music is fine arts.

I also don't really understand what was so horrible about the arguments being waged.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Muriel Axon »

If I were to poll my class on how many people had ever heard a Beatles song, I'd bet almost all of them had, but if I asked them the same question about a Mozart symphony, probably that number would drop considerably.
As importantly (and as you imply), any seven-year-old could spew out the lyrics to "Yellow Submarine," while very few people have listened closely enough to any Mozart symphony to say anything important about it. But we should be careful with this kind of reasoning, lest people start thinking it's okay to write fine arts questions about Einsturzende Neubauten.
You're really ready to say that rock music, which is still one of the predominant forms of popular entertainment, and which has been designed to be not especially complex music for mass consumption from day one, is a fine art now? [bolding mine]
I agree with you, Charlie, but about the bolded part - huh? (I guess this is an argument we shouldn't get into now...)
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

There is nothing new under the sun.
Illinois Open 2008 wrote:4. Along with Carl Davis, this composer released an eight-movement oratorio named for his hometown in 1991, while he more recently released another oratorio called Ecce Cor Meum. His early work was heavily influenced by John Cage in the use of tape loops, while Howard Goodall credits this man's most famous collaborative group with saving Western music from atonalism, as well as bringing back the use of modulation. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 inspired this man to add a piccolo trumpet solo into a piece about his childhood in the suburbs. A fan of Karlheinz Stockhausen, whom he put on the cover of one of his recordings, this man also brought back the use of plagal cadences in works like "She's Leaving Home" and "And I Love Her". For 10 points, name this musician and writer of songs such as "Maybe I'm Amazed", "Yesterday", and "Hey Jude", the writing partner of John Lennon.
ANSWER: Paul McCartney
This certainly isn't a great question, but it does attempt (and, to some degree, succeed at) an academically-oriented exploration of Paul McCartney's work. Also, based on the presence of a tossup on Olivier Messaien in the same packet, I'm assuming it was categorized, as it should have been, as "other fine arts".

Also, while I'm here:
RyuAqua wrote:To bring this discussion back to seriousness, I wanted to float another idea. It seems as though lots of tournaments already have a 1/1 Pop Culture-Your Choice distribution, and there's no reason why those pop culture tossups have to be written in such a, well, "trashy" way. If we want to honor a culturally significant TV show/borderline book/film/musical with a question that focusing on the artistic merit or whatever music theory, cultural insight, visual clues, etc. are usually overlooked when thinking of it as trash only, there's no reason those clues can't be accepted by editors in the pop culture area we have now. To the extent that trash is still in regular academic tournaments, I think it'd be interesting to start seeing things like a Billy Joel tossup leading off with a musical clue (cf. last year's BHSAT), or some of the fun things a Mike Cheyne type might have to say about Leave it to Beaver's cultural mores, in the packet's one trash question, and we're not crowding out other clear cases if we do so. At any rate, it'd be more interesting than the status quo where everyone flocks to their favorite childhood video game, a sports star, or the latest Nicki Minaj hit.
This is an interesting idea, and I'd be happy to see more cultural-criticism-type clues in trash questions. However, I do want to add the early caveat that as long as a given tournament is asking about pop culture, I don't see any lost "legitimacy" or whatever if some of those questions are on current popular music, or sports, or video games, or other subjects with less prominent fields of scholarship*. Basically, while I think Matt's proposal is a fine idea worthy of future exploration, I don't think it's good as a mandate (not that I think that's what he was proposing it as!).


*implying that video games aren't a source of academic/critical clues, eh? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

RyuAqua wrote:To bring this discussion back to seriousness, I wanted to float another idea. It seems as though lots of tournaments already have a 1/1 Pop Culture-Your Choice distribution, and there's no reason why those pop culture tossups have to be written in such a, well, "trashy" way. If we want to honor a culturally significant TV show/borderline book/film/musical with a question that focusing on the artistic merit or whatever music theory, cultural insight, visual clues, etc. are usually overlooked when thinking of it as trash only, there's no reason those clues can't be accepted by editors in the pop culture area we have now. To the extent that trash is still in regular academic tournaments, I think it'd be interesting to start seeing things like a Billy Joel tossup leading off with a musical clue (cf. last year's BHSAT), or some of the fun things a Mike Cheyne type might have to say about Leave it to Beaver's cultural mores, in the packet's one trash question, and we're not crowding out other clear cases if we do so. At any rate, it'd be more interesting than the status quo where everyone flocks to their favorite childhood video game, a sports star, or the latest Nicki Minaj hit.
Considering the amount of time that quizbowlers waste by sitting around screaming "LETS ELIMINATE TRASH IT ALL SUCKS RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE" because of some shitty trash question, this seems to be a great idea. Just because people call Pop Culture questions "trash" does not mean that question writers have to write questions that are trash in the literal sense.
The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote:any seven-year-old could spew out the lyrics to "Yellow Submarine"
I don't really like this line of reasoning, simply because I bet I can find seven-year-olds who know more about Beethoven's 5th than, say, "A Day in the Life." That doesn't mean that McCartney is all of the sudden as askable as Beethoven, but the difference is much more complex than "rock music is popular therefore it can't be art" or anything like that.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Matt Weiner »

Like, the whole reason trash should exist in most quizbowl tournaments is because it keeps you on your toes as to the possible answer space and can be a good way to get newer/less talented players to feel more included in the games. Changing it from "popular culture" to things that are even more inaccessible than the most difficult academic categories (the average person/student/quizbowler does not, in fact, read academic criticism of race relations in My Mother the Car) seems like it will make the continued inclusion of trash a whole lot less justified, not more.
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Re: Fine arts/music

Post by Stained Diviner »

Questions on painting and classical music are good. A portion of the distribution is set aside for them, which is good. Sometimes other things intrude on that part of the distribution out of necessity, because that's the only way to get some jazz, sculpture, architecture, photography, film, and music theory into quizbowl. (Opera could be labeled classical music if push came to shove, but depending on who you ask it may be seen as an intrusion on classical music.) Including a little bit of those minor arts topics is worth it, though there is a real downside in that there are fewer questions on painting and classical music, and questions on painting and classical music are good. The more intrusions you allow, the fewer questions you get on painting and classical music, so only allow the intrusions that you really believe deep in your heart are necessary to make quizbowl legitimate, because otherwise you are decreasing the number of questions on painting and classical music, which is bad. Also, if you have a set number of fine arts intrusions, and you don't use them to write about jazz, sculpture, architecture, photography, film, and music theory, then there will be fewer questions on those topics, and there already are a small number of questions on those topics, so decreasing that number is bad.

Here are the two reasons I can think of to write a fine arts question on Paul McCartney:
1. You think there are currently too many fine arts questions that are clearly fine arts, and this is your way to decrease that number.
2. You want to make an academic point that Paul McCartney can be studied academically. You are going to prove that point to anybody who counts the number of questions in your packet by topic and discovers that the Paul McCartney question is classified as fine arts.

If your reason is #1, you are wrong.
If your reason is #2, you are correct, but you are doing something bad with that correct information.
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