Donnerstag, 8. April 2010

Talking about music

When it comes to writing about music, one of the most fascinating questions will be: Can you actually talk about music? Certainly you can talk about music's components - whatever you consider them to be (take all that analysis that helps you to grasp what your piece of art is made of). But is it, after all, possible to get hold of the essence of music by verbal means?

To answer the question we should first try to find out where to look in search of the essentials. I subscribe to the idea that music is, first and foremost, communication. Communication of what? Let's consider how our spoken language evolved in the first place in the course of the evolution (at least what some researchers suggest). First there were sounds that conveyed the most essential signals, vital to our survival and close to an instinctive behavior.

Then, big as our human brains were (in comparison to many other species that behaved similarly), this form of communication grew more sophisticated, embracing more and more abstract processing of information, thus enabling conceptual thinking as words evolved. At the same time however, that habit of making sounds along with changing moods remained and took a development line of its own. This will have lead to the habit of singing.

As every phenomenon that is connected to life is subject to constant change, singing, mimics and body movements along with it developed further as a vehicle of expression for impulses and moods that wouldn't find appropriate premises in spoken language or even in conceptual thinking. While we usually can't reach at the origins of those impulses, it is safe to say that they are initiated somewhere at a subconscious level. And any given brain researcher would tell us about the vast productive capacity of our subconscious brain activities. Some would even say that those activities make up our whole life. While some of their creations find an expression in words, there remains a whole lot that doesn't. Music is one of the vehicles to communicate that lot.

Back to the original question: can we talk about music? The answer is: "Yes we can." :-) But always remember music's capacity to deliver more.

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