Saturday, April 11, 2009

Musical Assumptions

Here's a comment I made over on Musical Assumptions. And here's a link to the specific post:

Hi. Seems like this is a situation where your blog title comes into play. There's the music, and then there's each individual brain sensing and processing that music. I'd guess it's not just simple prejudice, but a more complex brew that might include that, but also everything else heard beforehand conditioning the response, as well as various differing ways individuals have of responding to music.

For a lay person not completely knowledgeable about the era and without all kinds of mental furniture to enable comparisons, notions of imitation and ranking of importance would probably not be as big an issue.

You begin the post talking about what "bothers" you is the assumption being made. What gets me is that so many academics and musicians seem to have a need to pin pieces down like butterflies in a case, where all is ordered and arranged - and dead.

Part of what you hear is what the brain is looking for, so if you're busy classifying and judging everything you might miss what the music is really about. Analysis is important, but not the only reason to listen to music.

I'm a music therapist, and often tell people it simply does not matter what someone else thinks of music you like. If it benefits you physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually, that's the bottom line.

(Just found you back when "Sounds & Fury" linked that Gould video you had, and very glad I did.)


  1. Thank you for this very intriguing comment! You are so right about the tendency of academic musicians to want to classify, "pin down," and arrange music in order to try to make sense of it. The more time I spend with music, the more I find it impossible to classify it. And there is music that becomes even more mysterious with time and wear. Perhaps it is in the freedom from not having to analyze that we get to the essence of what music is capable of doing. I fluctuate continually between the two poles of embracing form and rejecting it completely.

    Thank you for introducing me to your very interesting blog!

  2. Elaine - Thanks for the comment and the kind words. I've been enjoying your take on things. Finally commented because this post hits on the music educator/performer perspective vs. music therapist perspective interface I'm always trying to better understand.

    Keep up the good work!