It’s been a while! How are you? How have your last few weeks been?
I’d say comment, but none of my five readers ever do, so disregard that.
Boethius had the right idea, in addition to having the best name I think I have ever heard.
NOT EVERYONE HERE IS IN MY MUSIC HISTORY CLASS.
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, or just Boethius as he is usually known, was a scholar/philosopher/thinker person who lived in or around the 6th century.
And where, specifically, does Manlius have the right idea? Well, in order to make this blog post take as long as possible, let’s go to Nicomachus.
You see, our idea of “music of the spheres” sort of starts or at least is echoed with Nicomachus. Only where you might think of music of the spheres as a sort of metaphorical thing, Nicomachus argued that it was actually a legitimate musical concept.
He correlated the notes of the existing scale to the rotation and existence of the planets, thus explaining the seven notes of the scale.
Boethius, being philosophical as he often is, went further with this. Boethius says “the cosmic, is discernable especially in those things which are observed in heaven itself or in the combination of elements or in the diversity of seasons. For how can it happen that so swift a heavenly machine moves on a mute and silent course? Although that sound does not penetrate our ears—which necessarily happens for many reasons—it is nevertheless impossible that such extremely fast motion of such large bodies should produce absolutely no sound.”
Disregarding the scientific truth or untruth of this sentiment (cough cough http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38pJhxCzR-I cough cough), I’m going to go on and provide for you Boethius’ view on “human” music.
[you see, Boethius defines in Fundamentals of Music three distinct categories of music: the cosmic, the human, and the instrumental.]
Human music is not beatboxing or singing or even the song currently stuck in your head. It is, in Boethius’ view, “what unites the incorporeal nature of reason with the body…unites the parts of the soul, which, according to Aristotle, is composed of the rational and the irrational.” It’s more a philosophical concept, again, than a musical one. He also talks about instrumental music, but I’m going to ignore that and go about the time-consuming task of misinterpreting Boethius’ book on music into a commentary on how people work.
For me, somehow, music has a certain resonance (ha, ha), a certain similarity between the indefinable emotion a piece can carry and the ineffable quality of the emotions a human being can experience.
And the one links to the other. If you can emote with people, if you can understand emotions and return them, you can likewise apply that to music, and the opposite is also true. The more open you are to emotion, the more both fields improve.
To which fields am I referring to? Well, musicality and emotionality. Musicality means something like “skill of musician-ness,” which I am interpreting in this case to mean “how well you can put emotion into a song.” Because as you probably know if you have ever heard a song you like covered by a different band who just butchered it, you can cover a vast range of emotion in two performances within an identical musical framework. How you attack the notes, the dynamics of the song (how loud/soft you play it), how long you hold each note, whether you play with pedal/on the bridge/with tongue/on the rim/(insert fourth method of instrumental variation), even just what mood you are in on the given day. There’s so much variation that I FORGOT WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT.
Human emotion, just like music, varies within similar frameworks. How you feel in a given situation can change depending on the day of the week, how much sleep you got, what kind of a mood you’re in, what you’re eating—even though the day might unfold in a perfectly identical fashion to the one before it, you may well respond to its events in a completely different manner. Not to mention, each person will respond differently to the same event, just as different musicians accentuate different points in a song.
Isn’t that AWESOME how that works?
Just another example of the vast subjectivity of the world as we experience it.
I think about that a lot. How other people see the world. It’s an interesting challenge to try and look at it from the same perspective, even for a little while or on a little thing.
It’s a very educational experience. Not only can it teach me about other people—no, not only does it teach me about other people, but it teaches me about myself. For example, there are some things—heck, many things—that I cannot entirely imagine. Some troubles I have never borne, some loads I have never had to shoulder, and in those cases all I can rely upon is empathy and imagination to capture even a fragment of the feeling.
In a way, it’s nice that I’ve never been subjected to that. But in another way it frustrates me to know that—at least right now—I am incapable of truly understanding what people go through. I can imagine, yes, I can calculate and guess and maybe I even get close to the truth when I do so. But in the long run, at the end of the day, when all’s said and done I have no idea what the qualia of these experiences are.
(Qualia: N; [plural of Quale] philosophical/psychological term: the subjective sensation of an experience).
I can only do my best to empathize. And maybe that’s pretty good, (it sure as hell beats not trying at all), but as I said, in a way it bothers me.
But enough on that.
I THINK I’ve GONE ON long enough, and in fact I think this has been far too long to go WITHOUT MUSIC.
SO here’s some music, sunshine, and I’ll leave you with this and wish you a nice day.
[muse: MK Ultra]
[/muse: MK Ultra]
[muse: Time Is Running Out]
[/muse: Time Is Running Out]
[Bartok: String Quartet Number Four: Movement Five]
[/Bartok: String Quartet Number Four: Movement Five]
HAVE A NICE DAY.