Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2008 April 20

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April 20[edit]

Complete Soundtrack Listing[edit]

<welcome to wikipedia - moved to Entertainment desk for a better chance>

Year founded?[edit]

I'm working on this article about the Long View Center. I'm having trouble finding out what to list as the founding year for the intro and category. The Center's website states it was in 1870. The NPS says 1879. The N&O says 1881. On top of that, the Long View's website also says the sanctuary was built in 1856. Does anyone know what year(s) I should add to the article? APK be confused. Thanks. APK yada yada 08:49, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Blacks in the hippie movement[edit]

Why there were virtually no Afro-Americans among hippies despite hippie cosmopolitanism? -- (talk) 10:51, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Jimi Hendrix? --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 14:06, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Hippies were largely white and largely middle-class. As someone said today on NPR, when we today say "Green" (as in Green technology, or the New York TImes Magazine's "Green issue" today) we often mean "white", much less of certain relatively affluent income groups. And please don't take the hippies at their word about the cosmopolitanism—sure, some of them were quite contemplative and cosmopolitan but many were just in it for the drugs and sex and fighting an unarticulated "man" who was responsible for their ills in some vague fashion. But of course one should not, either, overestimate the importance or the impact of the "hippies". Most people in the 1960s were not hippies and thought the hippies were ridiculous.
It's of note that many African-Americans of the 1960s were trying to do things that were of some distance from getting stoned in the Panhandle—the Civil Rights Movement was in full stride, racial tension was at a new height. While the San Francisco "liberated" were going to rock concerts to express their principles, people in the South were marching, getting beat up, and sometimes getting killed for their principles. One group believed in somehow creating a new humanity based around psychotropic drugs, muddled Eastern religious principles, and the tinny sounds of their day; the other was trying to directly fight against base hatred and discrimination. I exaggerate both positions, but I think you see what I am getting at, why they might not seem so akin to one another.
I should say, as a postscript, that I spend a lot of time today around people who consider themselves cosmopolitan, radical/liberal, open-minded, etc. (Cambridge academics). Some of them truly are. Many are just conforming to the expectations of the particular bubble they live in. In my experience, the people who proclaim the loudest that they love all people are the ones who think the least of the people they actually know, who consider them to fail in some ideal of what "people" should be. (I should probably note that I am a liberal myself, not a member of the much-parodied subset of angry campus Republicans.) --Captain Ref Desk (talk) 18:45, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
It's important not to stereotype imo, because that openness and change was part of the zeitgeist at the time in whatever way it was being expressed. The diverse mentalities fed into each other, all reflecting some kind of radical idealism expressed passively, actively, individually or in community and mixes of at least those. Afro is interesting too. Julia Rossi (talk) 23:51, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
There were very close links between white and black radicals in the 1960s. The Students for a Democratic Society, for example, worked with the Black Panther Party. "Hippie" was largely a slur heaped on people involved in the 60s counter-culture rather than a self-identifying term used by members of any kind of organized movement. If you were to hang out at a radicals' party in Berkeley in 1969, it's likely there would be both white and black people, but only long-haired whites would be called "hippies" by passers-by. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 02:02, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
I think it should be pointed out that "hippie" refers to a specific cultural style (though the term was not always used that way), which fit only some of the young people on the left at that time.--Pharos (talk) 23:42, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Racism in Conrad[edit]

Is it indeed true, as some have argued, that Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is itself racist, that it shows evidence of artistic imperialism, reproducing the very thing it sets out to condemn? Topseyturvey (talk) 10:54, 20 April 2008 (UTC)


I suspect, Topseyturvey, that you have some familiarity with the arguments of Chinua Achebe and Edward Said? If not, the key texts here are Achebe's 1975 lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and Said's Orientalism. Yes, Conrad's work, not just Heart of Darkness shows signs of both racism and sexism. But does it matter? It seems altogether too trite to say that Conrad was a man of his times, reflecting the views of his times. Achebe expects a perfect penetration, a complete and translucent understanding, which is not within the scope either of the novel or of Conrad's comprehension.

It was not for Conrad to fill this space, this gap in the European imagination, which, in any case, proponents of the post-colonial thesis would no doubt judge as presumptuous, or patronising, or both. It was for Conrad to write The Nigger of the 'Narcissus', Youth, The End of the Tether and all of his other wonderful racist and sexist stories, just as it was for Mark Twain to write Huckleberry Finn, and Harper Lee to write To Kill a Mockingbird.

I as sensitive as most to issues of racism and sexism, but I would always seek to judge the past in its own terms, to see things through different eyes. More to the point, I would rather have great literature that a barrel-load of political correctness, delivered by the likes of Achebe and his kind. I hope this does not come across as too bad-tempered, but I simply loath attempts to rewrite the past or to sanitise art. Clio the Muse (talk) 23:49, 20 April 2008 (UTC)


<Hi Sean, moved to language desk for expertise : ) >

Future of the European Union[edit]

Hello. Thinking about the future of European Union, of the decline and, perhaps, obsolecence of the nation state, is it likey that specific European identity will appear that will substitute for the disappearance of more traditional alliegences? I'm just looking for some indications, if possible, of the future political shape of Europe based on an extrapolation of present trends. I think that this is within the remit of the Humanities Desk. Many thanks. Raymond Budge. (talk) 11:59, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Well Raymond, you might consider it this way. The nation-state, in its modern form, is a largely artificial creation; the child, not of nationalism, as is usually assumed, but of the Age of Enlightenment. The European Union might be said to be a reaction against this, a process by which the nation state will be rendered obsolete. But all the evidence suggests that there is no European identity as such. Rather what can be seen is the liberation of a patch-work of local identities, formerly sublimated within the nation state. What we can see, in other words, is Transylvanian, Basque, Breton, Flemish, Scottish and a host of other fragmentations; what we can see is a revival, it might be said, of the crazy patchwork of the Holy Roman Empire. How the Gods of History love irony!
This process of division and subdivision is likely to continue, always looking inwards, towards ever more parochial loyalties. Consider the Scots, whose sense of identity-once the bogus tartenry is removed-has an entirely negative basis, along the lines of 'we are Scots because we are not English'. But once the old 'oppressive' English state is factored out, once the sense of historical grievance is removed, what then? How will the Gaelic Highlands see the Saxon Lowlands? How will the east sit with the west? How will Glasgow sit with Edinburgh, a place they seemingly hate, as I discovered once from a reading of this page? Wider still and wider! But There'll Always Be an England, she writes in hope, as St George's Day fast approaches! Clio the Muse (talk) 00:23, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
I think that there are two issues at stake here: the fitness of the nation state and the relation between politics and identity. To start with the first: the European nation states are simply too small to be able to deal with economic globalization. Alone those states cannot deal with/protect themselves against global economic problems and crises. They can only survive, if they, as they did, band together. So certainly the nation state of the size of the Netherlands is obsolete as an independent political identity.
However this does not mean that one European identity will supplant the European identities. What is likely to happen (and already happening) is that people have multiple identities, a European one, a National one and Regional one. Consider people in Belgium, these people have the strongest European identity, but they combine it with an identification as Belgian, and French-, Dutch- or German-speaking and often again with a provincial or urban identity (as Brusselaar or Limburger).
In a further unifying Europe this trend is likely to continue. Europe's economic integration will continue, and the European will have multiple layers of identity, including national and European. C mon (talk) 07:15, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, as I have said, a new Holy Roman Empire. The only thing missing is the church lands! Clio the Muse (talk) 22:36, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
If that is the only obstacle you see to the emergence of a new Holy Roman Empire, Clio, then I hereby pledge my bedroom as territory of any newly emerging Papal States a la Lovely ;). JoeTalkWork 16:26, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
I had the Prince-Bishops in mind, Joe, not the Papal States, which were not part of the patchwork in its craziest stage. So, you may consider yourself to be the first Prince-Bishop of the New Holy Roman Empire! Clio the Muse (talk) 02:58, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Pascal's Wager vs. the Problem of Hell[edit]

Pascal’s Wager says that you should be a Christian just in case you go to hell if Christianity turns out to be the “one true religion”. The Problem of Hell says that God is unjust if he sends people to hell.

What would Blaise Pascal, the inventor of Pascal’s Wager, thought about the Problem of Hell? What do believers, supporters, and advocates of Pascal’s Wager think about the Problem of Hell? What do Christians who believe that Pascal’s Wager means that you should be a Christian think about the Problem of Hell? What do Christians who claim or believe that you should be a Christian just in case you go to hell think about people claiming or believing that God is unjust if he sends people to hell? Would they agree with it? If not, then why not?

What would the first original people who thought and made up the argument of the Problem of Hell think about Pascal’s Wager? What do believers of the Problem of Hell think about Pascal’s Wager? What do people who claim or believe that the Problem of Hell means that God doesn’t exist or is unjust or Christianity is false think about Pascal’s Wager? What do people who claim or believe that God is unjust if he sends people to hell think about Christians claiming or believing that you should be a Christian just in case you go to hell? Would they agree with it? If not, then why not? <signing for> (Talk)

Someone else asked a similar question recently. Is it a homework assignment? I'm just curious. --Masamage 05:11, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Looking at Each-Way (bet) and bookmaker betting, the bookmaker wins whatever the outcome. Maybe Pascal had his tongue in his cheek. There must be more than that to Pascal's Wager, even given some Christians (some faiths?) say you go to hell for betting. As for the problem of hell, no-one really likes the powerlessness of being on the receiving end of a unilateral contract such as the Covenant where terms are dictated rather than agreed. So cries of that's not fair and formulating arguments about the problem is a way of dodging an undodgeable (?) issue. Which brings us back to Pascal's betting solution. Julia Rossi (talk) 06:05, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

No offence to Julia Rossi but I honestly think you will get a better response if you post your question on the Humanities Desk,

Cool. Let's take it there. Julia Rossi (talk) 13:02, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
According to our article, Pascal's wager is about the supposedly infinite gain of Heaven rather than the infinite loss of Hell. AndrewWTaylor (talk) 13:16, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Just a small note: doing things out of fear rarely, if ever, works out well. This does not apply to clear and present dangers, e.g. this or this. You may point out that believing does not constitute 'doing', which illustrates the inconsequentiality of many (if not most) of our beliefs. Vranak (talk) 13:47, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Fear does foster belief in the case of the Stockholm syndrome. And AndrewWTaylor, I think the OP is concerned with two separate problems. Imagine Reason (talk) 13:57, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

My, what a lot of questions! I think, 202.7, that you seem to be conflating and confusing two entirely different issues. Andrew is right: the Wager, as set out in the Pensées, is about the gain of Heaven, not the loss of Hell; it is about the most meaningful way to enter the presence of God. It is not a negative argument, or a threat.. It is, rather, a challenge to atheism and to the limits of reason. Above all, it is calmly intellectual in approach; Pascal does not set out to achieve his aim like some kind of Medieval preacher, by using irrational concepts of fear. Hell is never explicitly defined. Anyway, you might consider some of the following:

Between us and heaven or hell there is only life half-way, the most fragile thing in the world. (213)

As far as the choices go, you must take the trouble to seek the truth, for if you die without worshipping the true principles you are lost. 'But', you say, 'if he had wanted me to worship him, he would have left some sign of his will.' So he did, but you pay no heed. Look for them then; it is well worth it. (236)

One of the ways in which the damned will be confounded is that they will see themselves condemned by their own reason, by which they claimed to condemn the Christian religion. (563)

So, death is certain; all follows from that. Reason cannot determine if God exists or not. It is not a matter that is subject to any rational proof. Believing is thus a leap beyond the limits of reason, which carries the possibility of infinite reward. For, "if you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.' I would go so far as to suggest that fear of hell is not valid reason for this leap of faith. It would deceive neither God...nor Pascal!

Your wider questions on the Problem of Hell have no validity, because I cannot say what Pascal would have thought of this in the terms you have expressed it. I imagine that most people who believe in Heaven and Hell would choose to be in one place rather than the other. And for those who believe that God does not exist, well, why should they be concerned either about the Problem of Hell, or about Pascal's Wager? Clio the Muse (talk) 01:19, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

According to most surveys, I'd say that about 80% of Americans are Christians, 70% believe in a Heaven, and 60% believe in Hell. Imagine Reason (talk) 03:29, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Pascal definitely was being tongue-in-cheek, especially once you consider that with his wager, he didn't specify Christianity, indeed, he specified that you should follow the religion that offers the greatest punishment for infidelity. It kinda makes sense, if religion A says you will enjoy paradise if good, but suffer a slight eternal punishment if bad or non-believing, but religion B gives the same reward, but a much much worse punishment, then you should follow that religion, to save you from the worst possible hell. (talk) 19:06, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Oh, dear! 81.159, I don't mean to be unkind, but your contribution is just so terribly muddle-headed. I suspect you have never read the Pensées; you most certainly fail to understand the huge significance of Pascal's Wager in the context of that work. The Wager is the central part of his critique of rationalism, just as Christianity is central to his thinking. I lift the book; I open it at random; this is what I read;
We know God only through Jesus Christ. Without this mediator all communication with God is broken off. All those who have claimed to know God and prove his existence without Jesus Christ have only futile proofs to offer. But to prove Christ we have the prophecies which are solid and palpable proofs. By being fulfilled and proved true by the event, these prophecies show that these truths are certain and thus prove that Jesus is divine. In him, and through him, therefore we know God. (189)
And so it goes on. Clio the Muse (talk) 22:55, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

What you mean by this: "As for the problem of hell, no-one really likes the powerlessness of being on the receiving end of a unilateral contract such as the Covenant where terms are dictated rather than agreed. So cries of that's not fair and formulating arguments about the problem is a way of dodging an undodgeable (?) issue."? Can you please explain what this means?

According to Pascal's Wager, the important thing is not if Hell is just, but if it is true or if it could be true. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bowei Huang (talkcontribs) 09:54, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Rudolf Carnap and Wittgenstein[edit]

Rudolf Carnap of the Vienna Circle of philosophers said that he could derive all meaningful sentences from logic and sense-experience alone, claiming the support of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Does this make sense? Can language be reduced in this way, to a formal logical construct?F Hebert (talk) 13:42, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Rudolph Carnap claimed, as you suggest, F, that from a reading of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he could construct precise forms of language, free of metaphysical corruptions. But such an understanding is based on a partial reading of Ludwig Wittgenstein's complex little dissertation. For Wittgenstein meaning came from the world, not from sense-experience. Carnap's approach was both impossible...and impossibly funny! The idea of restricted language was applied so rigorously among the Vienna Circle that it reached the stage of making any form of expression all but impossible;
We appointed one of us to shout 'M' (for metaphysics) whenever an illegitimate sentence was uttered in our discussion. He was shouting 'M' so much we got sick of it and got him to shout 'not-M' whenever we said something legitimate.
Ha-ha! Fortunately for Carnap he began to think a little more clearly, introducing what he called the 'tolerance principle', according to which there is not one but many logics. So, by this standard, any expression of language is acceptable as long as there are sufficient rules governing its logical application. Clio the Muse (talk) 01:39, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

How is it possible there was history between 1918-1920?[edit]

In the US, at least 500k people died of the Spanish flu in that short period. Wouldn't stuff have stopped? How were there so many events then (Red Summer, Red Scare, etc.)? Lotsofissues 13:58, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Well that's only a fraction of a percentage of the US population, which was well over 100 million then. No need to stop anything.--Shantavira|feed me 14:53, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Especially since a large number of those deaths were no doubt the young, the old, and the infirm. In any case, the examples you give are all of social strife, breakdown, and/or fear, which are in fact quite often the handmaidens of pandemics. --Captain Ref Desk (talk) 18:36, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Our article "Spanish flu" says "the virus kills via a cytokine storm, which explains its unusually severe nature and the unusual age profile of its victims (the virus caused an overreaction of the body's immune system — strong immune systems (ie young adults) ravaged the body, while weaker immune systems (ie children & middle age adults) caused less morbidity and mortality)." [I'm going to go fix that sentence now.] --Milkbreath (talk) 13:39, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
History happens in places besides the US. Paragon12321 (talk) 22:08, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

For as long as people act, and events are recorded, there is history, even in the midst of the deepest catastrophe. Clio the Muse (talk) 23:09, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Stuff did stop. Our article doesn't explain it well enough. In places hard hit, public orders closed all places of public assembly - schools, theaters, even churches. In some places store keepers were not allowed to open their door but had to do "drop deliveries" so they didn't come into contact with the public. But it lasted only a relatively short time. Rmhermen (talk) 13:58, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Ditto for the Black Death, Clio. History happens because humanity as a whole always refuses to just lay down and die. If we ever did, that is when history would end as we know it. Wrad (talk) 15:31, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Barbarity and Civilization: Can't find this quote![edit]

Please help me locate a quote, which I only dimly remember. Something like:

'Every relic of civilization is also a relic of barbarity'.

Might be Erich Auerbach. Not sure! Joshua.c.j (talk) 14:09, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Never mind - found it! Walter Benjamin: "There is no document of civilization...that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism." Joshua.c.j (talk) 15:25, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
C'mon Joshua c, where is it from? Julia Rossi (talk) 02:36, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
"Theses on the Philosophy of History".—eric 03:34, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Wow, thanks eric!  : ) Julia Rossi (talk) 05:11, 21 April 2008 (UTC)


what are the causes and solutions of crime? (talk) 14:38, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

That's a big question. Did you try reading our articles on crime? How about greed, jealousy, and lust?--Shantavira|feed me 14:56, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
And while you are at it, read poverty, slum, and unemployment? BrainyBabe (talk) 17:04, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

And perhaps drug addiction? I am not a dog (talk) 22:35, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Crime begins with humanity and will end with humanity. Clio the Muse (talk) 23:05, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

"Shoplifting began here, in ancient Phonecia. Thieves would literally lift the corner of a shop in order to snatch the sweet, sweet olives within. Oh, Shakazaramesh, will you ever learn?" (Sorry!) Adam Bishop (talk) 01:06, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Legislation is the cause of crime, without legislation, any action, no matter how heinous, isn't a crime. (talk) 19:10, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

The anonymous pianist[edit]

Who was/is Martha Goldstein? Apparently, her media is being used on countless articles about solo piano, and oftentimes, it is Chopin repertoire on an "1851 Erard piano." There's no use in searching for an article - nonesuch exists. --LaPianísta! 21:33, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Pianosociety has a tiny bit about her. It seems she is famous in the piano world for what you know her for—recording the entire Chopin repertoire on an 1851 Erard. HYENASTE 22:42, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
I also found this page, which only says "Missing Biography". She is an enigma. HYENASTE 22:45, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
She's only an enigma if you believe everything you read and then wonder why such an apparently famous person doesn't have various things written about her online. The reason they don't exist apart from the slim pickings mentioned above is that she is not famous, or even particularly well-known. Apparently she's been a teacher for 20-odd years, has done some concerts, and has now turned her hand (pun) to recording Chopin's études on a piano like the one he used himself. What she has recorded of Chopin is just that, the 24 études, which take about an hour to play. It's far, far from "his entire reportoire". She's no enigma. -- JackofOz (talk) 15:40, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Economic solutions[edit]

In my field of expertise we have various solutions (literally) sitting on the shelf ready to be used when a process calls for them to be used versus making them up from scratch. Consequently I am a bit miffed why we do not have economics solutions already prepared and waiting to be called when the circumstances, such as recession, merit them. Instead we seem to let ourselves be dependent upon politicians to come up with solutions that only benefit one special interest group or another. I mean doesn't it make more sense to lower taxes for those who can least afford them during a recession and increase taxes for those who can more easily afford to pay while adjusting government spending and borrowing to best accommodate the circumstance of recession? (talk) 23:11, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Your confusion is understandable. The problem is that economics is complex. the word "recession" is used to describe a huge problem space, not a single failure. Therefore, there is not single off-the-shelf solution. By analogy, "recession" is equivalent to "stack overflow" in computer science, or "thermal problem" in computer hardware. Sure, there is a crude off-the-shelf generic solution but it is not really applicable to a particular real-world specific case. - (talk) 00:20, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
But if you're convinced of the value of off the shelf solutions, the only people politicians listen to are big business and lobbyists, so you'd need to get your information out there through a key channel like these.  ; ) Julia Rossi (talk) 00:56, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I found the site I last visited in 2001. Now I'm wondering why I am listening to John McCain (who admits that economics is not his strong point) explain his economic solution when my computer can handle more variables and come up with a (better) solution at higher speed and on my desktop? Hasn't McCain heard of the Virtual Economy? (talk) 02:16, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Because his script has to allow for dumbing down to the public and sound bites. I'd assume any statement he makes isn't worth the footage the mass media has graced our screens with, but that financial/economics specialist newspapers may provide the background and analysis. Check if your local political group needs an economics voice among them or ask them who you could approach if you want to be heard. Even writing as the public to specialist newspapers may be a start. There's also the glitch that politicians don't really want things "fixed" but I don't know what it's called. Probably somethiing like inbuilt dysfunction with a purpose. Julia Rossi (talk) 02:34, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Dumbing down... you know you're right. I forgot about the fact that that is what politicians do. They have the smart bureaucrats on the one side and the public on the other side and their job is to be the interface between. Yes, their job is to dummy up and to dummy down and our job is to pick the one that does it best. Just thought it would be nice for a change to see a bunch of charts and squiggly lines. God I miss Ross Parroe. (talk) 05:47, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Charts and squiggly lines would hold them to it. Nah, better you have awareness and you never know, would have come out of the same dilemma – get together with fellow economists, only publish facts and proofs and call your site something hip and irrefutable. Best luck, Julia Rossi (talk) 07:26, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
PS You've likely seen in the Ross Perot article he puts his views re sound bites and where his latest plans include maps and charts here[1].
Are you saying that what Obama means by advocating change is he plans to change his platform even if elected? (talk) 10:37, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Your basic idea of having "off the shelf" solutions (e.g. public works projects) ready to go at a specific condition of economic recession is a famous suggestion of John Maynard Keynes in his The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, don't recall exactly where. In the USA, there are plenty of good sensible economists who foresaw the recent housing bubble crisis and have thought hard about what to do, like Dean Baker and Paul Krugman. It's just that recent politicians, particularly those running the show for the past decade, are with very few exceptions, insane, cowardly, stupid and/or corrupt,.even by historical and world standards.John Z (talk) 04:31, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

How to create and write your own music[edit]

May anyone give some advice for creating and writing your music? I listened to a song by Kenny G the other day and it gave me both a craving desire and inspiration to write and make my own tune perhaps even make up my own version of his song!

--Writer Cartoonist (talk) 23:56, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Most composers are also musicians and can play at least one instrument. However, the ability to play an instrument is not strictly necessary. There is now a lot of software that allows you create music and lets you play it on your computer. as an example, please see TamTam - (talk) 00:05, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
I beg to differ. I don’t know of a single great composer or song writer who has not played an instrument. The basics are essential! If you can’t play an instrument well, start lessons immediately! Also find and take challenging music theory, composition, ear training, and music history classes. I don’t want to discourage you, but it can take decades to become a truly skilled composer. There is quite a bit of research which indicates that 10,00 hours of study is approximately the amount of time necessary to master complicated skill like this.[2] That works out to about twelve hours of study a week for five years. Without a solid foundation you will likely never be able to progress far. The greatest song writers have all put in their 10,000 hours of study. --S.dedalus (talk) 02:16, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
There are also people who will write the music to your tune if you need that, ghits here[3] and WikiHow[4]. Many people put others off with high standards. The important thing is to start. Douglas Adams said it takes a long time not to write a book. The next important thing is to keep going. Julia Rossi (talk) 02:43, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
The important thing is to start, but understand that you will not be Kenny G in two weeks. Accomplishment is usually directly proportional to effort. --S.dedalus (talk) 03:27, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Oh yeah, and if you’re planning to make “your own version of his song” you’ll need to get Kenny G’s permission first. His work is defiantly copyrighted and you don’t want to get in trouble with his copyright collective of choice. --S.dedalus (talk) 03:32, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
The OP is inspired by Kenny G and will probably perform live with air guitar in his/her bathroom, after graduating from his/her computer desk before entering the dog eat dog world of Entertainment. By then, Kenny G might be glad to endorse him/her as a bona fide impersonator or, the OP will acknowledge the great Kenny G as their god while clutching the fifth gold figurine they have received where thanks also to S.dedalus' precognitive advice about copyright they will have arrived legally unscathed. I hear the faint rise of applause drowning out the rest of it. And whistles... Can hardly wait!! Julia Rossi (talk) 05:05, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't disagree with anything you say, S.dedalus. However, maybe Writer Cartoonist isn't looking to become "a great composer", but simply to write a few songs. There are various examples of songwriters who not only couldn't play an instrument, but couldn't read music at all. But they had innate melodic gifts that made up for their lack of technical expertise. I don't know, but I imagine they would have supplied the melodies and rhythm, and the harmonies ands riffs would have been filled in by an assistant. Afaik Elvis could read music; he certainly played the guitar - but what he once said has always tickled me "I don't know anything about music. In my business you don't have to". He seemed to go quite a long way. -- JackofOz (talk) 15:25, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
True, although I suspect Elvis was drastically oversimplifying. He apparently devoted himself completely to music as a teenager and his interests included symphonic music and opera. Elvis defiantly put in his 10,000 hours. If we look at some of the greatest song writers/rock musicians of all time, Paul McCartney was a classically trained musician, Pete Townshend was a music student at Ealing Art College, John Entwistle also played trumpet, French horn, and piano, and Frank Zappa was actually planning to become a avant-guard classical composer but switched to rock because he felt more people could hear his music that way. An oft quoted added says that 99% of composition is training and 1% is talent. You can’t do anything about the talent bit so it’s better to make sure you have the training.--S.dedalus (talk) 22:14, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
I guess what I'm saying is that that 1% talent is absolutely essential, whereas it's sometimes possible to get by without the 10,000 hours training (not that I'm suggesting he shouldn't go down that path). Someone who couldn't come with a simple tune to save his life (like me, for example) can benefit enormously from music training, and may become an outstanding performer of other people's music (that's not me), but a million hours of training will still never provide the creative spark necessary to write good music. It has to be there from the start. Often, people don't know that have it until they do some training and it rises to the surface. But that training will also weed out the composers from the performers from the musicologists etc. Writer Cartoonist may indeed have that creative spark, and training will reveal it. Or he may not. -- JackofOz (talk) 00:03, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Paul McCartney is not a classically trained musician. He has never learned to read music and he's done all right. --Richardrj talk email 04:38, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
In my dreams I can be Kenny G in two minutes! Julia Rossi (talk) 09:15, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
I suppose it depends how you define 'classically trained'. He certainly didn't start playing and composing without musical knowledge; his childhood was suffused with music due to his father, he learnt to play the trumpet, he had music lessons. By the time he picked up the guitar, it's fair to say he knew quite a bit about music. (talk) 16:24, 22 April 2008 (UTC)