Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Musing on Reality, Truth, and Music

After being boggled by the suggestions about the relativity of reality presented in the podcast I linked to in my last post, I have decided that the only way for me to preserve my sanity and enjoy happiness is to seek out and hold onto what I know is real and true. For me it happens in music, particularly when I'm practicing. If something is in tune, I know it is something real and true. Nobody needs to confirm it for me, and I don't need anybody to remark on it (there's usually nobody around anyway--or at least there's nobody paying attention). I know it's true, and I know how to make it be true again.

Perhaps music is the purest form of reality. Perhaps the more we open our ears and minds to the things we hear that lie below the veneer, the more we understand it. Perhaps the more performing (and composing) musicians strive to be true to the music, the more truth it will project. Perhaps this is why we need music.

If I do everything I'm supposed to do, I can hold my own truth in my hands, and I can share it with you, as long as my motivation for sharing it is the right one. If my motivation is to impress, all I'm doing is impressing. There's always an element of "impressing" in performing, and I often find that need to impress is always vying to get in the way of real musical experience. The trick is to get the proportion right, so that reality and truth triumphs over the need to impress and all the other psychic elements that come into play during a concert.

Recorded music is a can of worms, and, for the most part it belongs in a whole 'nother category from the truth and reality experienced in music that comes directly out of an instrument or voice.

It's a rough world out there, and it's a big one too. It's hard to find a non-competitive "safe" zone anywhere, particularly among people who discuss music over the internet. We all need to draw our personal boundaries, so that we can feel that this world is manageable. The social media-induced bursts of euphoria that alternate with feelings of isolation can make us numb, so we all have to be careful to keep these things in proportion. Holding our here-and-now reality in our hands is a really good way to keep things balanced.

I cling to my own reality, which is to practice whenever I can, and do what I need to do technically so that I can play in tune, in rhythm, and with a good sound. Once those things are in place (which takes some doing), I can encounter whatever it is I am feeling, through whatever piece I choose to play. I know that it is real and true, and its reality, validity, and truth are not dependent on what anybody else thinks.


Marjorie Kransberg Talvi said...

Hi Elaine,

We make music first and foremost for ourselves. I always feel as if I'm off balance when I haven't played or practiced the violin. Although the professional landscape has altered from years past, I feel more passionate than ever about great music, art, and literature.

Grant said...

This is a very nice post. I too think music in some way reflects truth. I also think that music mysteriously has many of he same qualities that people often attribute to the divine. It's something I like to write about on my own blog.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

Grant Charles Chaput