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CLASSICAL  October 2006

CLASSICAL October 2006

Subject:

Music As Language

From:

Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 13 Oct 2006 10:07:46 -0500

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text/plain

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It seems like we haven't had many discussions on this list lately...so,
I would like to propose one...something that has been on my mind recently.

There is a great deal written about the relationship between language
and thinking.  Some suggest that language evolves as required by the
need to express our thoughts.  Others suggest that our thinking might
be limited to that which we can articulate.

I have often wondered if the notion of "pure thought" (whatever that
might be) is better expressed in music.  I would think that the limitations
of the notation of sound might be akin to the limitations of language,
yet, computer music allows us to create sounds without notation and the
"limitations" of acoustic instruments.  Of course one can argue, with
historic precedent, that the "vocabulary" of music has been limited by
notation and that notation has evolved through the need to provide
expression to a wider range of musical thought, a parallel to the analogy
of spoken language and thought.

This preface being perhaps a long introduction to the question...is it
possible that the appeal of music could be its attempt to articulate
"pure" thought?  True, many of us listen on the level of the sensuous
and narrative (as described by Copland in his "What to listen for in
music.") but yet, as Copland suggests, we should try to listen to music
"on its own terms." or, as I wonder, is Copland suggesting listening to
music as thought.

Is it that music has the potential to provide specificity of thought
without the specificity and limitations of thought imposed by or the
result of language?  Or is the appeal of music that it lets us think
freely, with less specificity, perhaps more in a manner suited to the
nature of thinking, and hence, will have the potential to provide us
with an inner calm or a level of stimulation unfettered by the constraints
of written/spoken language.

Kinda wondering what others might think about this notion...or perhaps
could suggest related reading.

Karl (wishing he had a better command of language to express his thoughts)

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