Music - Sweet Music - A Revelation

Music - sweet music.

An astonishing complexity of movement, at many different levels.

If we examine any particular instrument, a drum - a violin - the human voice - the first level of movement we would have to consider is at the atomic level.

Whatever is going on at that level, we know that it is not static - whether we think in terms of waves or particles - or both - it is the consistency, the stability of movement - this devoted obedience on the atomic level, which creates the instrument's materiality that we see and touch.

The substance of any instrument is already singing a song - but at a frequency far too high for us to detect.

Bring on the performers - setting the instrument in further motion.

Be it the strings of a violin, the membrane of a drum, or the vocal folds of the human voice - they are set in motion by the performer.

An illusion is created from cycles of frequency, which we do not detect individually - but the consistent unfolding and combination of frequencies we recognise as pitch and timbre.

We have already fallen for another illusion - by presuming that we are hearing the instrument.

No - the instrument produces no sound whatever - it simply sets the air in motion - a motion which is detected by little hairs inside the ear, translated into neurological signals and processed by the brain.

The sound only manifests as the consequence of this interpretation to our awareness.

Sound is not a physical property - it is a psycholgical one.

Another illusion is yet to come.

Shall we choose a slow, pensive or soothing adagio - or a vibrant and scintillating allegro vivace?

What are the effects of these two?

They make time itself appear to travel at different speeds - captivating the attention, and transporting it within the nature of its own apparent unfolding.

The movement of the metre - fast or slow - and the counterpoint of the rhythm.

Then comes the movement of the human soul, the imprint of heart and mind - in creative play and communication.

Threading a journey - of contrast - of sound and silence - tranquility and the chaotic - of soaring and sinking - of major and minor - a language of emotion, joy and sorrow - sweet harmony and harrowing discordance - all of life is there.

Revealing the journey itself as the focus - certainly not the destination of the final note (courtesy of Alan Watts) - that would be ludicrous.

Image courtesy dhiaksavisualizer

When we listen to a piece of music, we allow it to escort us on a short journey - it becomes the sound-track for that portion of time. Importantly, we allow our attention a front-row seat - sharing the music as it unfolds.

Where music differs from visual art, is that it depends on time for its existence - or at least that is the illusion contained in music - it certainly depends upon an unfolding.

It is this unfolding nature, coupled with our aural captivation by harmony, melody, texture, rhythm, timbre - and even picturesque lyrics - which casts a tremendously potent spell for our attention.

With our attention sitting comfortably in the front-row, the leading edge of this sonic spell metamorphisizes from a mysteriously silent beginning, through to a mysteriously silent end.

The piece of music, the specific work of art, has a beginning and an end - yet its unfolding nature is imparting a subliminal message.

For as we listen, as we are escorted through this period of time in the company of music - although our attention may be fixed by its seductive influence - it is not only the music which is unfolding.

We have allowed the music to give us a front-row seat from where we can observe the universe unfolding - with its silent song. Of course - this includes our own unfolding.

With our attention alert, poised and focused by the act of listening - gently succumbing to the sweet spell being cast - we experience a certain stillness of mind - its normal chatter and distraction - voluntarily put aside - to absorb, in their place, the magical power of the music.

We experience our own, unique response to the beguiling, elemental nature and visceral power of music and song. Within that stillness of mind, the response is painted from our own palette of experience - the visions from our own reservoir of imagination - the mood conducively supplied from within ourselves.

We are invited to dwell for a duration in our pre-conceptual state - the experience of ourself, reacting in its own natural manner - to a completely abstract influence - speaking to our being in its own primal language of vibration - simply because we voluntarily allow our attention in that direction.

Rather similar, in many ways - to meditation?

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