Friday, July 10, 2009

Jungian Categories & The Horn

Child of the Sixties that I am, Carl Jung's ideas effervesced through my college education and the following decade or so. They were "in the air" and some of them became part of the mental tool kit I've been using ever since. Besides the "introvert/extrovert" spectrum of human personality, he talked about thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation as being four useful categories to use in talking about how we as individuals connect with the world around us.

Currently over on Horn Notes, John Ericson is doing a terrific series of posts looking various horn methods. Here's today's. Reading and thinking about them has helped me clarify this notion I've had that people learning various instruments can bring to them various mixes of thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation. For most instruments, I think you can have pretty much any mix and it can work. For the horn, though, seems there's the need for more than a simple minimal amount of both intuition and sensation.

The intuition is needed to know where the note is before you play it. Of all the instruments I've tried, none requires so much of being "in the flow" to just simply hit the right notes. One reason all the horn methods don't say the same thing is that it's very difficult to put into words exactly what it is you do to play it well. My sense is that that nonverbal aspect is a tip off to intuition being involved.

The sensation required for horn playing is the exquisite proprioception needed. Getting all the physical apparatus in the right place, particularly the infinitely adjustable embouchure, to make the right note with the tone you want goes far beyond the proprioception needed to play any other instrument I've tried.

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