Monday, March 29, 2010

What Music Proves...

What music proves to me is that the creative act uses but transcends intelligence, intelligence used in the sense of conceptual grasp. Our total power, the very essence of being human, is often thought to be intelligence, but that word has different connotations in different times. I gather that sense when I read scholastic writings. Thomas Aquinas’ use of that term has a more encompassing scope than my use of it today: the word sets up a different resonance in my daily use than the same word does in Aquinas’ contexts. In my hierarchy intellect ranks lower than intuition or imagination. Similarly, in Aquinas’ world imagination is linked to the lower ranges of the sensory.

Music is thought to influence the emotions, and its constant use in movies is an evident deployment of the art for this very purpose. But certain kinds of complex music produce something we call emotion but I classify as an elevated something else. The body mirrors it as emotion but I would name it something else if I could find a word for it.

The occasion for this reflection was our attending a musical program at the Bloomfield Township Public Library yesterday where we heard piano pieces composed by Chopin, Samuel Barber, Jan Vaclav Vorisek, Smetana, Copland, Scriabin, and Liszt and played by young and coming performers called Brian Hsu, Misuzu Tanaka, and Stijn de Cock. Lovely. The performance was free. And we had the chance to tour a lovely library while April showers, arriving a little early, drenched everything so that the parked cars out there all lost their color and looked uniformly gray.

3 comments:

  1. Describing the feeling of listening to music is suprisingly difficult. OF all the arts, it may be the one I find most easily reaches in to us. Hearing poetry read aloud can sometimes produce similar feelings in me. But music is somehow... special in this way.

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  2. By the way, I very much like the new feature you have on this blog, namely the inclusion of the current post titles for the blogs on your blog list. Very nice and sophisticated feature!

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  3. My first reaction to your statement : "Certain kinds of music produce something we call emotion but I classify as an elevated something else. The body mirrors it as emotion but I would name it something else if I could find a word for it." was, "Perhaps the word is simply FEELING." Then I see Monique's comment starts with : "Describing the feeling of listening to music..." To me, it's both a physical and an intellectual experience, therefore feeling which is both physical and mental seems appropriate whereas emotion which is more exclusively mental seems more restrictive. I know that the words feeling and emotion are considered synonomous but in fact, in their nuances they are not. Very interesting subject!

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