MUSIC AND THE SELF



Somewhere back in the early 1990s it struck me that music can be thought of as a basis or framework of our storied nature and storied capacity for self-reference. Other authors have speculated that music preceded the arrival of language—whatever that might mean. We reach for music like a food. Is this a useful hint about its origins? All the moods and motions, timings and arrests, reference structures and multiplex hint forms are there in music, seated deep in our moment-to-moment listening to the fourth movement of Mahler’s second (where the voice and the orchestral glories merge) and somehow prior to language, and so perhaps—metaphorically—music is an armature for the weaving of a self over time, when there is no language yet perfected. The latter proposal seems to hang on there being some urgency in creation towards the consolidation of a self; the evolutionary “project” would then be a “Song of the Self.” If some of this were true, then words and sentences would be eventual and in some way standard productions of the evolution of music. And if some of this were true, would it add to our knowledge about why there is something rather than nothing? Heh. I’m thinking “Not a bit.”


Noted on 7/9/12 - after dinner tonight, seeing how the well mounted lines of a never-heard-before country & western song can promote tears of sweetness/affection/loss, though less than 6 seconds of the song have elapsed; remembering how a bare wordless tune or simple melodic turn can instantly thrust an “us” into a story-with-moods; perhaps both stories and music suppy a nutrient base for the growth and maintenance of a self, a self that does not brook silence and disconnections well...