Western Music And Human Relationship (10.Nov.2017)

“A lot of people like to spend time or their life with other people (friends, family, significant others,etc) .
Others like to spend it on their own.

Which of the above should you really be doing?

It doesn’t matter, so long as you have your own strong motivation as to why you like it that way.
That said, I want to discuss more about this because it’s certainly one of the most interesting subject we all could relate.
Barenboim talked about the aspect of two or more voices in Western music and politics (namely the confrontation between the Israeli and the Plestinians).
Here I’m going to make a similar analogy, except it’s with human relationship not politics:

If you spend most of your life “alone”,

then you’ll learn a great deal how to take care of yourself.
You’ll learn to be your own boss.
You’ll learn to find creative solutions to break through all kinds of hardship that come forth in life.
You’ll acquire plenty of knowledge, wisdom and your unique experiences so you can share them with the world.
These are all great, of course.
HOWEVER, too much of being “alone” can, of course, become a problem.
The lack of communication leads to “misunderstanding” and the conversation (if ever) does not go in the direction it’s meant to.
Instead you feel somewhat distant and disconnected with the other person. As if you two are not on the same page.
Or the other person keeps talking all along and doesn’t give you the chance to say anything.

How might this play out in music?

Imagine there are two or three vocal lines (in general, contrapuntal music have at least more than 2 voices).
One of them is the melody, the other(s) the accompanying or decorative counterpart(s).
Needless to say, the melody plays a much more leading role than the other(s). Therefore, it holds dominance and power to speak clearly and loudly while simultaneously dictating the rest what and how they should speak. Sometimes it’s allowed to sing on its own with freedom, other times not so much.
And when the melody separates itself from the others to an extreme, things get rocky and awkward.
One falls ahead of the other. Or one falls behind the other.
The melody overwhelms and shades the other voices completely.
It just stops listening to them so it makes them left out. There’s uncomfortable barrier between both parties and the connection is, therefore, lost.
As if they’re strangers.
What about if you spend most of your life with other people?

If you spend most of your life with other people,

you’ll understand things about people and possibly learn some important lessons.
You’ll increase the connection with them.
And hopefully they’re the kind of people that can make you blessed and your life enriched.
Because truly great things are never accomplished by one individual, but by a team.
On a flip side, needing to always depend on other people rather than yourself is also a problem.
You don’t know what to do the minute you become alone.
Your decisions or choices never come before someone else’s opinions.
It’s as if you keep asking them questions and let them talk, but you don’t talk about yourself at all or disclose anything deep or personal to them.
You have no stories or experiences to share with them.
You just have nothing interesting to say to them.
Because of it, you have little to no value to offer them for making a tangible difference in their life.
And you know where this leads to.
Nowhere.

How might this play out in music?

The best example to describe this in music is:
When there’s a melody and there’re accompanying or decorative voices, the accompaniment is constantly subject to the moves of the melody.
As a matter of fact, the accompaniment listens to the other voices too much.
It has forgotten its meaning.
Its own role has become less important than it actually is.
It doesn’t contribute to the musical dialogue in any way that adds more significance or depth.
And if it doesn’t get more interesting, then it’ll eventually die down.
As if all the voices have lost oxygen, being suffocated and stuck trying to find the way out.

Musical dialogues are human conversations.

Come questions, there’ll be answers.
From time to time, the subject is supposed to change.
Each voice is in complete rapport with one another and at the same time gives a challenge to the statement so the conversation moves in a direction it naturally desires.

This is the most ciritical paradox found in music and human relationships.

One should be self-contained in one’s own right and YET cannot exist without relying on others at all.
The accompanying voices should not sound in the way that overpowers the principal voice YET shoud address their own importance at the same time.
Every voice ought to have the right to speak for itself freely YET never without supporting and contradicting its counterpart.
That is to say ― when it comes to musical playing ―,
neither just playing nor just listening is enough.
Whether it’s a duet, string quartet or orchestra, one has to be strongly aware of the meaning of one’s part and embrace it as well as listen to the other parts in order to unify them all as a collective ensemble.
HM

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