Reply To: My experience of music

  • Paul

    August 22, 2023 at 8:36 pm

    I absolutely think you’re on to something there Anneloes.

    I’ve been thinking deeply every day about what Iain has brought to my comprehension of being human. My gut feelings and thoughts go something like this:

    Language is the problem. Not so much Language itself but the mindset it invokes: Unless we work against it, the default mode of language is always ‘of the past’, i.e. a ‘reproduction’ of something, not a representation of something unfolding anew.

    And I think the same applies to music.

    As Iain is at pains to point out, both hemispheres are involved in everything, including Language BUT with Language (unlike almost any other function) there is a strict lateralisation to the left hemisphere in terms of reception and production. When it comes to poetry for example he suggests that good poetry subverts language.

    My understanding of how this works is that a good poem takes you to the edge of meaning, assembling the allusions such that you unfold the meaning for yourself. This is like being given the formula to solve a maths problem rather than simply being given the answer. Likewise with music: great music alludes to themes and echoes and the listener fills in the spaces, joining the music unfolding just as it did for the composer.

    So, it might be that the skill of composition is allowing something to unfold anew and that following rules in order to make this happen spoils the process- because rues take you necessarily to something that has already happened.

    And I think such a process, as you rightly point out, is more akin to listening than to speaking: it becomes something that is happening to you rather than something you are making happen.

    The skill with the Language and Theory of music would then come to bear upon the writing down of the unfolding, the editing, tidying and structuring of the music overall. At this point there is another unfolding, is there not? In the direction and dynamic of the piece, its development and denouement. Gifted writers of music allow the previous stages of development to resonate within the piece, echoing forward and back, referencing what has gone before.

    And again with lyrics.

    Throughout there is an oscillation between the dominance of selves, taking turns to bring the piece together, the overarching meaning and direction coming from the RH with the grinding and polishing provided by the LH.

    I honestly think this is why music is so beautiful. And I think you are 100% correct: you listen to, and receive what is happening to you, capturing and recapturing those moments of reception.