Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thoughts from Yo-Yo Ma

This brief article based on an interview with Yo-Yo Ma has some great quotes in it. 

Here he's talking about the Kalahari bushmen:

“They do these trance dances that are for spiritual and religious purposes, it’s for medicine, it’s their art form, it’s everything. That matches all I’ve learnt about what music should be or could do.”

In modern life we tend to think of music as something separate unto itself, as opposed to its being a deep experience of our humanity. I'll never forget going to a performance by various African groups and the program talking about how the performers had a hard time just making music to fit an hour or two time slot - they were used to going on for hours and hours.

The following paragraph from the article starts off talking about the work of Demasio and ends up getting close to the Tibetan Buddhist notion of the importance of motivation in any endeavor.

I mention Damasio’s insistence, in Descartes’ Error (1994), that the self cannot be meaningfully imagined without being embedded in a body. This must be resonant for a musician? He concurs and suggests that the role of tactility in our mental wellbeing is under-appreciated: “That’s our largest organ.” Ma sees this separation of intellect and mechanism, of the self and the body, as pernicious. “We’ve based our educational system on it. At the music conservatory there’s a focus on the plumbing, not [on the] psychology. It’s about the engineering of sound, how to play accurately. But then, going to university, the music professor would say ‘you can play very well, but why do you want to do it?’ Music is powered by ideas. If you don’t have clarity of ideas, you’re just communicating sheer sound.”

No comments:

Post a Comment