This problem originally arose from the practice rather than theory of art. Marcel Duchamp, in the 20th century, challenged conventional notions of what “art” is, placing ordinary objects in galleries to prove that the context rather than content of an art piece determines what art is. In music, John Cage followed up on Duchamp’s ideas, asserting that the term “music” applied simply to the sounds heard within a fixed interval of time.
While it is easy to dismiss these assertions, further investigation[who?] shows that Duchamp and Cage are not so easily disproved. For example, if a pianist plays a Chopin etude, but his finger slips missing one note, is it still the Chopin etude or a new piece of music entirely? Most people would agree that it is still a Chopin etude (albeit with a missing note), which brings into play the Sorites Paradox, mentioned below. If one accepts that this is not a fundamentally changed work of music, however, is one implicitly agreeing with Cage that it is merely the duration and context of musical performance, rather than the precise content, which determines what music is? Hence, the question is what the criteria for art objects are and whether these criteria are entirely context-dependent. – from Wikipedia.
Chris: Well I think in order to attack the question appropriately, I believe we have to first establish the term “art”. Art can be defined traditionally to many of the following: as a “skill as a result of learning or practice”; arti – “just”; artios – “complete”; artizien – “to prepare”; artus – “joint”; arnam – “make”, art – “manner mode”; ar-* as a prefix – “fitting together” or lastly it can also be defined as “a sense of cunning and trickery” – first attested circa. 1600.
Judging from the derivatives of the term art, I think the underlying conclusion of the term “art” therefore is the – intention of making, through practice, a product that imbues a sense of sensual appeal in terms of aesthetics or sentimental value.
In that case, in respect with the instances mentioned above, I believe it is still considered a piece of artwork according to my criterion of art, for clearly the subject has gone through the process of erudition of Chopin’s etude in terms of practice, furthermore, the end product of the piece did in fact appealed to our senses, even if a note was occasionally misplaced at certain instances. Variations of the piece therefore can also attribute to the sentimental value derived from the subjectivity of the musician’s approach to the piece, be it rubato or occasion transferal of playing style(s) (legato to staccato), it has clearly done nothing fundamentally wrong, for Chopin himself did not indicate how the piece should be played note by note, and thus, does offer a sense of freedom for the musician to input their musical desires in order to incorporate their own sense of workmanship into play – excuse the pun.
*Another personal note to my friend Stephen, I do not wish to argue the truth of freewill in my given response, for it can wait for another future debate once we both consolidate our raw ideas further.