The essential structure of music presents an infinity of possible sounds through various types of combinations, including the simple melody, harmony to such melody, the potential tempo and rhythmic characters and any various combinations of notes in such internal form as chords or interfacial combinations like counterpoint. Then in addition to such infrastructure, there is in Western classical music a greater overall structure which allows one part of an entire piece, such as in a symphony or concerto, to relate to its preceding or subsequent part in a manner which is not strictly or as directly mathematical, or equational. Such a movement, or even a recurring theme of short extent, a leitmotif, for example, of course knows its own mathematical composition or harmonics. However, that very composition has a meaning, or a certain inherent message, which finds its source in its contrast to or in its indirect apposition to a neighboring part of the overall work.

This interrelating of music by sections, which can also be accomplished by remarkable changes in tempo, for example, imitates the mode of human perception itself, and which perception can definitely be influenced by mood, by temperament, or even by situation and circumstance, all of which can be portrayed in the language of music. A recurring theme may bring consolation. It tends to tie in even a vast exposition of statements, one after the other, and unify them somehow, such that remembrance becomes a foundation of perception. Similarly, to return to a given tempo after long departure from that tempo calls up a profound association, so that the new passage finds deeper presence and stronger meaning in its sound. To repeat a given section in a lesser amplitude, or to refine its expression now in that beautiful, smooth and soothing legato, hearkens back to the first recitation of that section, thereby lending an emphasis to all that supports any subsequent change to the section, besides the change in expression itself. And all of this is unified by the place of remembrance in music.

The continuum of time is the slate of music, and timing is a major component of its texture. If classical music elicits emotion, it expresses emotion in the first place. However, the most fundamental feature of Western classical music which makes it understood is that use of memory. Indeed, the very interconnectedness and integral nature of our music is derived from memory itself. The ending to a symphony is understood but for all that preceded it, much like a conversation or an extended discourse, wherein what follows finds its meaning from what had been said before. There is a correlation between the perception of a particular passage and the memory of what had come before that passage.

Listen again sometime to the sounds of the frogs and crickets by the pond. There is a definite complexity to the beauty of their sounds, is there not? The structure is extemporized, yet there will be a repetitiveness about it, as well as a spontaneity found in what seems to be an interspecies communication. One voice sounds, and another answers, sometimes repeatedly, in unbreaking patterns for a while. And there may be a certain creature who takes charge, so that others seemingly center on that one in their timing. The music of nature reflects the interconnected harmony of nature, does it not? Nature's music expresses profoundly 'what is', the 'beingness' of the place where it is sounded. When a remarkable event occurs and the creatures react, this point becomes more evidenced, for their songs change for the moment, as they might react when the calm is broken by the arrival of a predator, say, or the birds reporting from on high of distant parts catch notice briefly as they join their species in a tree top. First everything will be dampened for a few moments while the message is sounded, and then it will resume its same course and sound just as before, as if to say, 'this is'. Sounding the drone of the world pleases these creatures of God, for that harmony which they express is a rendition of the essence of sheer, ongoing existence. And if a fight is in the offing, all of these creatures will take silence as their word, for the question of existence is now at hand, survival's taunt is the next profound ponder.

In classical music the strict mathematical proportions and relationships create the sounds according to the basis of harmonics, making the sounds pleasing to hear. How is it then, that a recurring theme will console the mind, much as a brilliant harmonization may console the ear? A newcomer to classical music may be the best teacher of this realization, whereby the overall work will start to make sense as it becomes more and more familiar through repeated listening. Then within that familiarization there arises a newfound perception of the finer message, such that the sound gains a presence way beyond its mere rendition; for now an entire perspective envelops the mind as a correlation is seen between what is being heard and what lives in the memory as having just been heard. This consoles the listener, for such perception is the equivalent of a translation: having heard, enough has been said so that what is about to be said or what is being said, is derived from that remembrance. Otherwise, the listener cannot distinguish well enough the intent of the composer to convey a meaning even beyond the essential mathematical relationships which comprise the strict language of music.

The beauty of music is alluring enough to the music lover. Yet, there is an effect on the mind, the emotional response, which mirrors the sense of resolution conveyed. The mind feels requited somehow, and glad of the settling which has occurred, even if there had been a stormy or cacophonous passage which had been crossed before the resolution occurred. That very resolution relies upon a statement first of the problem, or of that which must be addressed throughout. Otherwise the resolution would not sound so much like a resolution, as it might sound comparatively like a poorly understood overstatement, though perhaps still interesting and pleasing to some extent. Memory finds its place in this style of music to create an ongoing context of meaning which builds in an understandable fashion, and which understanding relies on a definite remembrance of what had come before, whether in a movement, a passage or even in a short, light introductory smattering like a grace note.

In eras of music together, composers will evolve with one another as they are affected by each other's works. At such times prevailing structural modifications take fashion, and the listeners tend to know what to expect in a popular piece of music. In a sense, their minds become trained, or disciplined, and their memories work in a mode which attunes them to the general level of perception, to the growing style. Now a music devotee may be entirely new to classical style, and hear perhaps a symphony, which is just a long work written for an orchestra. The change in sound to a light, quick and extended section might seem totally tangential, even not understandable. This is a scherzo, and it can comprise an entire movement. Yet, the devotee of classical music itself will know what to expect in the event of a scherzo, and may prefer to find composers who specialize in them. In the instance of a movement which is characterized by a sound and expression which is totally opposite to its preceding movement the listener is required to carry the inference in perception which is direct when sounds are similar and moods are overall matching into an inference which is accordingly less direct. For such inference will then work still in memory, but by contrast primarily.

So not only is memory active in the actual perception of music at a given time and place, it also helps to direct the birth and formation of entire styles of music which may comprise eras. Yet that evolving process is actually nothing more than a direct result of the place and power of memory in the very constitution and comprehension of Western classical music.

Let us now begin to apply the lessons of nature's music to our understanding of classical music. For in Mother Nature's sound the great variation derives from a collective of several types of sounds, true, but the critical question which we must answer is actually the question of what is the message? That has already been determined heretofore as 'what is,' a reality concept which embraces the simple truth of the world about us. The creatures live in that world, and by singing together, they communicate that nature as they feel it and live it. This realization we feel as we listen to their profound expression, and are drawn by it more deeply into the repose of Mother Nature. By understanding the reality we hear being actively communicated, we feel more at home, more at one with the surround, and equally happy to be there, as the creatures definitely are happy to be there.  This happiness of the creatures is evidenced by their music, their song, and is contagious to an ardent listener.

Now consider the world of music from the instrumentation available to us, and imagine how to find a way to express the same sense of 'beingness' in the language of classical music. This consideration requires a short lesson on metaphysics. Yes, music occurs in a continuum of measured time. However, the soul of time is timelessness in the most expansive sense. That is why the concept of eternity exists. The sense of time which would correlate most closely to the inner truth of the timelessness of time lies in the here-and -now. There is no boggling of the mind by time if one is in the here-and-now, totally at one with the world through the depth of self realization. For in this realization the past is not a concern actively and the future is not prevalent in the forefront of the emotions or intellect. This is a state of realization which lends the mind a one-pointedness, a clarity and a definite, even keel. Such a mind will perceive the unity innately about us, and will hear the music of the creatures as an expression of that unity.

Now imagine carrying this concept of the type of mind which is ruled neither by the past phase of time nor by the pressure of impending time into the realm of classical music through composition. In such music there will be less of an emphasis on memory as a way to bring structural coherence to the piece. Repetition, for example, will have the power to place the mind at ease, for it can capture by its sound a steady and sure concentration, which tends to send the listener into a more contemplative mode while listening. A steady drone in the base is also reassuring of a greater awareness of any progression the piece may assume, since such progression is counted against a constant feature. And this power of the drone depicts the changing feature as against a changeless background, which imitates the reality of the beingness found in the world of nature's music, the supreme song of simply 'what is.'  For things change in the relative realm through time; but in the absolute sense of reality, there is no change, as things are the same in all three periods of time.

Most fundamentally, the essence of a composition which relies less on the three structural partitions known as exposition, development and recapitulation is that transcendence of the necessity to rely greatly upon the use of remembrance in order to convey a refined sense and deeper meaning to a piece of music. Instead, an entire world is created by the sound. That creation of a sense of world itself becomes the sense of resolution, which is thereby less direct and more meditative. Such expansive result draws the emotion into a more highly subjective resultant exuberance, and if memory is there, it is more immediate; for it is as immediate as recursive phrases, or as centering on a note, or as suspension on a theme or thematic sweep. This allows a potential expanse into the fullest realization of the infinite possibility of the musical moment, wherein time seems to stop and beckon the meditation even on a single note into full resolve.

When time is courted for its most essential feature in music, that being timelessness, so that the self as meditator is drawn forth by the listening act, then the timing in rhythmic textures tends also to open up more fully, more completely and with greater complexity. In such instance, the constraint of structural partition has been lifted from the piece somewhat, so that expression can achieve a new height of spontaneity.

In summary, then, a whole world of classical sound intermixed with these leading analytical features is presented for your educational betterment and aesthetic pleasure through the music compositions of this composer. May you enjoy the results of these efforts herein to prepare you for the listening experience. It is hoped that you will learn thereby more of what pre-existing knowledge you have attained, and if you are newly arrived at this style of music, then that arrival is most dear to me.

Marilynn Stark
2001 by Marilynn Stark   All Rights Reserved.

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