Was it Schopenhauer who declared that music be the panacea for all humanity’s woes? I was never much a student of philosophy, but I vaguely remember someone said something to that effect.
He wasn’t far wrong.
To me, music includes the act of music making. There is a strength of meaning emanating from music making that does not carry blame, shame or superfluous melismatic moral high horsing that ‘educated’ humans are so predisposed towards. The best gift in my very fortunate box of many undeserving bestowals is music. Without music, I would have no ability to hear beyond tedious verbal diarrhoea, no understanding about true emancipation of soul and spirit, and no appreciation of things spiritual, distilled, ultra-refined, so abstract that it requires no philosophising in its enjoyment, things unspoken or unseen. I am not naturally predisposed towards lofty phlegmatics at all, my brain has little capability for that kind of thing. Trying to read two pages of Emannual Kant, or Goethe, brings on blurred vision and pounding headache. I am a lower-order thinker. I am sensorial. And music is a very cogent sensory dimension.
A relatively established artist I once knew remarked to me, with great disdain, that she couldn’t understand why musicians needed to spend hours and hours a day in the repetitive tedium of practising. She believed that “true talent’ did not need all that effort to reveal itself, and, to her, you either have it or you don’t, which is why she asserted that visual art is superior to music.
I wonder what Beethoven would think of her assertion? Or Bach? Or these wonderful musicians featured in this video here?
I was quite incensed by her utterly ridiculous claims at the time, but now I only feel sadness. Sad for her, almost pity, because she not merely miss the point, but she misses the joy, sheer other-worldly pleasure, the delightful ticklish thrill and exhilaration, that every musician partakes of every step of the way – from conception of inspiration, through the repetition and supposed ‘tedium’ of practise, to the culmination of wonder in the fleeting moment of performance.
No, I am not a great musician at all. I love music, and I am grateful to music for allowing me to be a part of its wonderful world. I wanted actually to be an artist, not a musician, but by a very fortuitous twist of fate, I was led to pursue musical studies before returning to my desire to engage in visual art. At a point in my undergraduate studies, I was standing at the crossroads, between choosing to major in music or pursue more visual art subjects, when an art professor told me to choose music. He said that this chance will not come again, whereas I could always return to the visual arts later in life. I took his advice, and although my journey has been long, arduous and winding, I have never once regretted walking through that open door.
Wearied by my own humanity and that of others around me, from too much spurious pontification and even heated argument about rectitude and propriety, I am yearning to engage in a different modality of communion with fellow humans. I miss making music. I miss that discipline. That wordlessness. That lack of judgement. That intense focus on just making JOY together. I have not sung, I have not written a song, I have not created a music composition, I have not played the piano, for many years now. And today, I miss it so much.
I am indulging in a marathon video degustation of these, a voyeuristic exercise for me, but when I step inside, I remember the vast and richly textured fullness of emptiness, and I remember this is how I best enjoy my fellow humans – those fleeting moments when we make music together.
The world is so terrible, nothing seems “all right” at all, and yet, when I am here, inside this little ephemeral microcosmos, I actually perceive palpably, even for that brief instance, that yes, “everything is going to be all right!”
And really, what would this song be without the music and the magical moments of this gathering of humanity?