Rant #3

Our ears hear + our mind listens. We receive information through our ears and the data is processed by our mind. The mind focuses our attention. The mind selects from all the information that arrives from all senses. It lets one particular set of information stand out. A photographer's mind will let the eyes rule over all other input in order to concentrate on a composition. A musician will let his ears rule over all other senses in order to concentrate on his composition. He will often close his eyes in order to better concentrate on his ears. Our western culture has for centuries let the eyes rule over the ears. Wide open spaces. We will see an enemy before we can hear him. On the other hand forrest people will prefer the ears over the eyes because in dense woods you will hear before you can see. Back to the mind. Our mind focuses, concentrates, and eliminates all other input, or rather turns all other input way down. Now you listen to music. Your mind turns up the ears over the din of input. Now it focuses on parts of the music, it zooms in on the melody, the harmony, the rhythm. What you choose to focus on is an art in itself. The musician changes his focus constantly. We check our rhythm, switch to the melody, make sure we hear the harmony. The audience will also change their focus constantly. Different cultures have different centers of gravity musically. One culture prefers rhythm over the other two basic elements (generalization: African music), another culture will concentrate on the melody + ignore the harmony (generalization: Asian music), a third will concentrate on harmony (generalization: European music). Accordingly audiences around the world will focus on different elements. This of course is changing today as we are all exposed to many different cultures and different contexts, styles, sub-text etc.

What’s going to happen when our minds switch with ease between listening to music in a context of melody to the context of rhythm and the context of harmony? Who knows. It could trigger a chain of events, really.

What is music, but a different form of language. Each language has a different quality, a different gravity. By that I mean that we often think of Spanish or Italian as the language of love, French the language of diplomats, Eskimo the language of snow. I’m not a linguist so pardon the broad strokes of my brush. The more languages a person speaks, the more subtly and clearly he can express himself. 40 words for snow in Eskimo for example. 40 distinctions where English has only a handful. Imagine the spectrum of expression we would have if we all spoke 50 languages. Maybe in a hundred years languages have continued to combine + incorporate words from different languages. We all use the word “Walkman” in English, German, Japanese.

Now imagine growing up with a really wide spectrum of music, combining many different musical cultures. Imagine the palette of colors! The music of the future will be a hybrid. It will evolve into Earth Music. There will be many different shades and colors to this music. We used to paint with a few crayon colors, now computer monitors advertise that they can reproduce millions of colors.

Educate your mind + your ears will follow.

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