Friday, April 10, 2009

Pliable Post

Here's a comment I made over on a post On an Overgrown Path where Pliable talks about music using a Buddhist perspective:

This post has induced a number of memories and associations for me. Your using Buddhist thought to talk about music reminded me of my first encounter with Tibetan Buddhism, when I was struck by the frequent use of the phrase "spiritual practice". Up until then I'd largely associated the word "practice" with just musicians, athletic teams, doctors and lawyers. Ever since then the notions of practicing music and spiritual practice have been intertwined in my mind. With each you're using daily encounters with an essentially nonverbal experience, trying to better understand it and to use what it offers to better your life experience.

The point you make about music's being able to exist in the mind even when you're not actually listening to a live performance ties in with a lot of the new brain research. A lot of the same places in the brain light up in imaging studies both when you're hearing live music and when you're not, but just mentally listening to or performing a piece.

Since we all have brains that are wired differently because of both genetics and our individual past experiences, we all respond differently to various pieces of music, as well as to various performances of a single piece. So besides there being no permanence to a piece of music, there's no permanence in the minds making the comparisons, either from person to person, or the same person at different times in different moods.

That Steve Hagen quote is wonderful, and led me to the notion that maybe the deep reason music can have such great effect on us is that the flux and flow of one can connect with the flux and flow of the other, that there's a sharing of the ways of working between streams of music and our streams of consciousness.

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