Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Jung/Gesture

In response to the groundswell of interest from our Vermont readership in the Jung post here's another. Two other things that Jung talked about that are part of my mental toolbox are archetypes and the collective unconscious. The basic notion seems to be that though we are all fully individual, there's a universal mental space we all share as members of the human race.

The Oxford dictionary on my iBook says an archetype is," a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors, and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious."

The same source gives the first meaning of "gesture" to be, "a movement of part of the body, esp. a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning". The second definition given is, "an action performed to convey one's feelings or intentions".

I think that gestures have meaning because they are archetypal and we all immediately grasp their emotional content. I think one of the ways music can exert such influence over our emotions is that it can simulate physical gestures in sound. And if you're at a live performance, you can see the gestures that create their sonic avatars. 

Maestro often talked about conveying more emotion, and more variety of feeling, by emphasizing the importance of "style". You can think of style as, at least in part, a gestural archetype.

This is all very much right brain stuff, so a way of engaging your right brain when learning a piece is to spend a bit of time thinking about the gestural/feeling component of the music, and how you want to convey that to your audience. As maestro often said, don't just play the notes.

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