Imagine a warm sunny day in the midst of summer with not a care on your mind except to contemplate the glory of God and the creation of nature when a bird visits, alighting in a tree, and greets your presence by looking at you from a    distance not too far. When the look of the bird is seen, there is a message there somehow as if there is an intent in this creature to have a say. Then there sounds the most beauteous, melodious song of the bird. And with the singing the bird has joined you and seems to know how pleasing the music to your ears, how welcome the passage from on high. And if the message is complex, the song can go on and on as if not enough can ever be expressed by this songster. Like a traveling minstrel will that genius of composition say so knowingly what must be said at that moment as a friend. What concert, so God-given, will ever match that wondrous word from winged instrument who never took instruction on the way -- who just knew how to say so pleasingly the truth and who knew how welcomed its delivery as it sang. What messenger lived with the angels to bring happiness and hope as well as studied telling of a tale so recent in the passing; and so caring was it from  godly heart which must be there else it could not so sing such all-knowing song.

Then if God talks with such free license of genius from a creature born yet in the wild, must nature not be itself the home supreme of God?  While we may look askance at the raw picture of such survival with no planning, do we not feel superior with our intelligence thus fooled? Oh, I know how there will ensue an argument of kind wherein the one who prefers electricity lines to fuel the notes of an evening or of a concert in the hall; indeed, wherein such a one will proudly say, no, for these avian interlocutors have but one circuit and thus sing always the selfsame, repeated song. That there is nothing arcane or relevant once it is heard once or twice, not even will the soothing tones be mentioned. Yet once I heard a mocking bird give a concert though it was not sitting on a telephone line; instead,  it sat at the towering top of an elm and sang for a full half hour every song it had learned from other birds. And not repeating once a single species' rendition, the intensity of its message was remarkable to hear. This is music supreme.

Who is to judge a musician by the question of extemporized sound when it was said that no greater feat of music was ever heard or even approached than when Bach improvised at a concert. This still lives in the annals of history. If you listen     carefully to the creatures of wing, you may learn to hear history in the telling, as well, even if the patterns and notes seem to be the same. They meld into the moment and compassionately address their audience, knowing that we also make music. Conduct an experiment and play a flute in the woods to see if there is no answer before long. Music is just music and arises from like soul.

What makes music elicit similar perception emotionally in people of differing personalities, emotional sets, and mentalities? Some of this perception is also of a discriminative kind wherein a situational context can be differentiated such as danger, ease, conflict, etc.; else a sheer abstract venue can be evinced in the listener so that emotions are less prominent in feature and sheer peace of mind or expanse of mind -- or even its compression through ornate detail -- can be evoked by the power of musical expression. Why is it that the language of music is so universal so that those who hear it simply receive the message which had been written into it? Just why does music say the same to all?

Fundamentally, there exist three modes of expression in the message behind the musical expression, and they are: synthesis, perfection and antithesis. These three modes are interlocked and interrelated throughout the piece. A passage which seems opposite to its preceding passage in some way expressively gains greater meaning and causes a more keen awareness in its message, for it traverses the dualistic feature of what is real, -- whether by attribute or by description. Thus, a short, smooth calming sequence of phrases may strike a listener as encouraging and consoling; if what follows that sequence is harried and of increased tempo, that change, that antithesis of previous statement, will be derived from its predecessor most remarkably. The modes are interdependent in this sense, for one mode is derived from another. If a composer produces a balance between synthesis and  antithesis such that contrariness or dialectically derived sentiment is minimized greatly, then nirvana of the classical music expression has been achieved. This balance between synthesis and antithesis is a thesis, yes; however, what characterizes this fulcrum between the two polar extremes is perfection, innate perfection. This perfection is found in the most beautiful, harmonious, unmistakably melodious, and usually sweet, smooth and pleasing sounds of which the one who conceives of music is capable. There will be symmetry, effortless progression and seemingly expected statement all throughout such a piece, or more likely, section of a piece of music. This thesis, often recognized as a theme or a thematic idea, stands to be woven in and out of as the two polar opposites of synthesis and antithesis dynamically play into the mind and heart and comprise sound being interpreted, sound being produced to say something through the nature of sound itself most perfectly, most completely. Music is sound in its most resonating form. In a mode of perfection the harmonics emanate precisely and even simplistically at times, and most music enjoyers never forget the passages they hear which teach them this element of classical music. However, perfection as a mode constantly and momentarily works to mediate between the two extreme poles of synthesis and antithesis. These two extremes are essentially also derivations of perfection. Thus, perfection suffuses the piece of music as a whole.


Marilynn Stark
September 29, 2001

2001  All Rights Reserved

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