Between music and noise?
Short answer = Standards.
That's why, today, you can walk into a museum and see this -
Or this -
...Our culture is rebellious and it resents any kind of standard, because standards point toward authority. They scorn structure and harmony, because they have been taught that nothing matters. Pattern require an Artist. And an Artist would have a purpose. But they have been indoctrinated to think that there is no meaning, no purpose, no reason for anything at all. That's why so many people kill themselves. And that's why they call chaos "art".
"There are truths," RC Sproul says of our culture. "But no Truth. There are beauties, but no Beauty. There are purposes, but no Purpose."
And that's really what it comes down to. Postmodernism denies every big story. What's true for you
may not be true for me. . . You have your way, I have my way, but as for the right way, there is
Since this hatred for any kind of absolutes (....except for their absolutely sure absolute that you can never be absolutely sure of anything....) pervades nearly all areas of our culture, it is no surprise that it has found its way into every form of art as well. We see it in paintings, sculptures, dances, music, plays. . . Everything has become utterly random.
At least, they try to make it random, but their very struggle for no norms becomes a norm, in and of itself.
True, we do each have our own preferences about what is beautiful. He may like classical music, while she thinks classical is boring and prefers Taylor Swift. Some people love country music, others hate it. Some people enjoy ballet, some would rather break dance. We are all unique and so we all like different things, and different music sounds pleasant to different people's ears.
But should that preference be our only guide? Or is there something more? I was listening to a lecture by RC Sproul today and in this lecture he says that God is the foundation for all truth, because God, Himself, is true. God is the foundation for all goodness, because God, Himself, is good. And God is the foundation of all beauty, because God, Himself, is beautiful.
If God is the foundation of all beauty, then He must have certain standards that are present, and necessary, in everything that is beautiful. He doesn't, however, give us a specific list of requirements for beauty. There is no simple step by step process for discovering beauty. This is one of those things that "For now we see in a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as I also am known." (1 Cor 12:13).
But the surest way to begin to know beauty, is to begin to know God. When we get close to the Artisit --- the One who is truly beautiful--- we are getting as close to pure beauty as is possible in this life.
If His standards --- the ones we see in His artwork --- are not there, then our artwork is not beautiful, no matter how much we might prefer it. Dr. Sproul made the point that we ought to embrace God's standards, even if they are not our personal preferences, because those standards are what separates music from noise, order from chaos, symphony from cacophony, beauty from ugliness.
Now, I've finished my rant and I suppose I'd better get back to studying for finals :)