Its not often that someone posits the question “is unorganized sound or non-traditional instrumentation “sound art” but not music?” with the idea of validating sound as art. I commend this approach. The issue I have (separating sound from music) with that is it ends up strengthening the musical reactionary’s view that music is sacred and that a line needs to be drawn as to what music is (of course with the reactionist drawing the line right?). They’re not going to take the time to think about sound as art, but will argue that not only is non-organized sound, etc., not music but that it also is not art. So now where are we?
Hence, I prefer to look at sound art as a subcategory of music. Specifically like this:
Sound and all genres of music
My personal view is that since art and its subcategory of music are so subjective, that music is whatever the composer wants it to be. I debated this with my father yesterday and he angrily asked, “so if I take a piss, is that music?” I replied, “sure. Its not up to me to tell the world if that was music or not, but I reserve the right to call that some of the worst music I’ve ever heard.”
We then broke down the argument, where he reserved “talent” as a key ingredient in music. I said, “so if I have no talent but play the theme for Ode to Joy on the kazoo badly (which anyone can do), are you implying that is not music?” He then refined his argument (although he didn’t realize he was being redundant) to state that “a talented performance” was a key factor in defining music. I then asked, “how much talent exactly does it take to play chopsticks?” Well then he tried to trip me up with references to some variations on chopsticks at which point I asked, “so if I play Mary Had a Little Lam with one finger, off time, is that not music?” He wisely gave up and was content to call me a crackpot which I was content with as well.
ADDENDUM: By the way, someone playing “Mary Had a Little Lam” on one finger off time could end up as a great work. I don’t know about pissing in a toilet (who knows if miked right), but a running stream in the middle of a forest contains quite an array of music.