James Tobin wrote:
>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.
Interesting that you would phrase it that way. In some recent reading
I have observed that some analysis suggests that feelings are tied into
the same part of the brain that controls muscle movement. It made me
wonder about the appeal of dance as an expression of emotion.
Yet music can also be a part of the expression of emotion...but has no
physical movement as part of its effect on us.
>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
Yet if there is indeed ambiguity to it...and I recall Stravinsky saying
something about there being specificity in music...and I am not quite
sure I understand what he was trying to say...why do we often approach
music by placing some sort of arbitrary narrative to it...like fate
knocking at the door to express the opening of the Beethoven 5th Symphony.
True, it is often used as a tool, but does such a tool lead us to
understanding music as music...assuming there is such a possibility.
What does it say about us if we can listen to music on its own terms?
>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 can understand the notion of an interpretation as being perhaps
stylistically or historically out of alignment when performed, but I
also wonder if we can ever, as listeners, misinterpret meaning in music.