Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Can social media compose 'music of the mind'?

'Harold Garfinkel [UCLA phenomenologist] taught that socialization was a process of convincing each individual that generally agreed upon descriptions actually define limits of the real world. What he was saying was that people generally agree on something being real and true, therefore, it becomes real and true; the view of a few random schizophrenics, catatonics and autistic children notwithstanding.'
Just before taking off on my travels I picked up a cheap copy of A Magical Journey With Carlos Castaneda by Margaret Runyan Castaneda. I must confess Carlos Castaneda is not my favourite spiritual warrior, which may explain why I found this memoir/exposé by his first wife to be a worthwhile read. Recently I asked if classical music tastemakers queuing to praise modish composers are actually hearing a ‘music of the mind’ embellished by their own preconceptions, and that quote from Margaret Runyan Castaneda is worth reflecting on in view of the current fascination with social media. And talking of something becoming real and true by general agreement; received wisdom tells us that Arnold Schoenberg originated serial composition, but did he?

A robust free wi-fi connection allows me this unplanned post from Aigues Mortes; the header photo was taken en route at Gigny sur Saône and is © On An Overgrown Path 2012. Not posting to Facebook while mobile as their security hassle is more than I can bear, but using Twitter. Any other copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

5 comments:

Gavin Plumley said...

It's interesting about the 'music of the mind'. I was discussing The Prince of the Pagodas recently with a friend of mine who had a very queasy reaction to the work... he couldn't get beyond that rather ludicrous image of Britten, Pears et al. dressed in Balinese costume. I must admit I can't get beyond the feeling that some of that music is rather ersatz.

Pliable said...

Gavin, thanks for that. I do think the rather clumsily titled concept of 'musical imperialism' deserves further attention, and this thread, of course, links to my recent post 'Britten's passion for the East' -

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2012/04/brittens-passion-for-east.html

Gavin Plumley said...

Indeed... hence my comment. Doesn't stop Pagodas being a cracking score. Am relishing digging deeper with it at the moment.

mrG said...

while the Music of the Mind may explain the fascination with several strains of music making that I can name, I think the medieval phenomenon of the dancing sickness is proof enough that this consensus of phenomenological perceptions is of itself insufficient. There maybe well be musics only of the mind, only accepted because of a clever bit of trendmongering, but there are also, undeniably also Musics of the Body, musical truths that are, in the long run, not limited by consensus because they triumph in spite of the best efforts of the opinion makers.

For example, in the 1750's the Royal Navy was instructed to employ a fiddler on board all south-seas voyages, not for the crew's benefit, but because they had discovered, the hard way, that the world's peoples are far more inclined to British traditional jigs and reels than to the 'classical' tradition they'd always assumed was closer to the ideal of Orpheus.

There can be very interesting and intellectual experiments in the arrangements of sound, I don't deny that, I enjoy many such all the time, but I think we may come to face a non-phenomenological reality that there is more to a 'music' than mere programmes of sound, and one or the other may demand our language coin a new term.

mrG said...

thinking over what I posted just above there, it struck me later, that perhaps a Music of the Mind, ie music that appeals only intellectually, could be a perfectly viable sort of music, given that the Music of the Body certainly exists and, I think, a strong case can be made for there being a distinct Music of the Spirit in various religious chants and other sorts of what Cage and other called "Environments for self-discovery" and so I'm left with three seemingly disparate Musics, for mind, body and soul, and possibly others that also seem as different from the other as to be Something Else, but it struck me, could there be a common attribute in the relationship of each of these 'musics' to their domain that might help us answer the question of what 'music' actually is?

and could there be a hierarchy? that latter question begins to hint a little kabbalistic, but I'll throw it out there just for fun ;)