>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.
>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.
The first suggestion seems compelling. The second suggestion does not
really contradict it. I have no idea what "pure" thought might be, and
the quotation marks are in fact Karl's, but thinking can certainly be
clear or confused, and clear in various degrees, so expression of thoughts
can be more or less articulate. And it is important to note that not
all mental activity need be called "thought." Images and feelings are
not exactly thought and they resist adequate verbalizing. Some meaningful
expression of thoughts or feelings is simply by gestures and many thoughts
and feelings can be successfully communicated this way.
I have no problem with calling musical expression "language," because
some music, especially, is clearly expressive of feelings. The question
is what kind of language is it? Clearly it is not verbal language, nor,
for all its musical specificity, does it translate precisely into verbal
language. There is a huge amount of ambiguity to it, for one thing,
especially given the effects of subtly different emphases in various
musical interpretations. That is probably a good thing. Music is much
more a gestural language, like body language. Gestures are sometimes
unmistakable, but they can be misinterpreted, and they generally need
to be learned.
I just re-read Copland's introductory chapter, "How We Listen." I think
he gets a great many things right and says them simply and clearly.