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๐Ÿฆ… SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic ๐Ÿ


SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic

โ€œNobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed. Their highest merit is suggestivenessโ€, wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1860.[1] โ€œMusic is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you donโ€™t live it, it wonโ€™t come out of your horn. They teach you that music has boundaries. But, man, there’s no boundary line to artโ€, proclaimed Charlie Parker in 1949.[2] Akin to free-form improvisation, situational exploration with the ear is informed by skill and experience.

Situation music is not ideas or products based on music making or actual performance in traditional terms. Instead, it suggests situations or activities, even if it makes no reference to sound at all. Whether truly experienced on site or just imagined, such a piece of situation music can be unusually suggestive, somewhat symbolic or palpably aphoristic, suggesting, symbolising or embodying a sense of connection or affinity between the inner self and the physical surroundings through a situational or phenomenological context that induces contemplation, discovery or epiphany, of a general truth or resolution.

Situation music can therefore be an intention, evocation or allusion that is triggered, guided or tuned by instinct, intuition, imagination, contemplation, natural feeling and phenomenological reflection. In one sense, this paramusical genre may be regarded as concept music where the musical products, encounters or โ€œideas [are] borne of the mind and not of actual performance in traditional termsโ€[3] insofar as the actual context in which a musical situation is experienced is not limited to the traditional idea, format or expectation of what a musical performance usually constitutes. Instead, the context in which the (real or imaginary) experience takes place is framed, designed or dictated by the very concept that defines the musical situation.

If the concept requires that a situation (or) music be experienced aphoristically at a seaside, then that experience (even the mere thought of the situation) constitutes the musical product for which the concept provides a necessary foundation, instruction, catalyst, context, idea or starting point. The conceptual message itself, however indirectly connected to music in the conventional sense, supersedes any role or significance that may be attached to the sounds that one may feasibly encounter or generate in the situation.

The contextual or conceptual orientation further contributes to the indeterminate outcome resulting from a given situation in which the listener, to a great extent, determines his or her own environmental experience. Cognitive or emotional elements, triggered by sensory stimuli as well as memory, imagination and association, come into play and intermingle with the situation, making the composition of the situation different for every participant.

However, the more primitive, pre-cognitive and pre-emotive auditory process of hearing within the deeper components of human cerebral morphology may perhaps be situationally encouraged and environmentally tuned to transcend these differences in ideology and sentiment that often form the basis for disagreement. Through situation music and activity, this non-acculturated hearing process might be able to shift the emphasis from ego and self-expression to contemplative connection with Nature without rational or irrational control โ€” a situation in which music is about observing sounds as they enter the hearing space.

Properly cultivated, this process could lead to unadulterated perception and observation that are sharp, focused, and acute, uncluttered and undistorted by emotions and preconceptions. This is the essence of phenomenological ecology in situation music, where sounds are experienced and related in the contexts of their surroundings, and of their connections and interests with the participant. In The Findhorn Book of Connecting with Nature, John R. Stowe of Decatur, Georgia, recounts the revelatory nature of the personal feelings and affective resonance that flow through a person deeply tuned into the ambience of a situation:

Sitting in a grove of hemlocks in the north Georgia woods, [a woman named Patty] said: โ€œI felt as if I were listening to music, just beneath the level of my hearing. It seemed like the trees were playing the deepest notes, like the bass pipes on an organ. I couldnโ€™t really hear them, but I could feel them all through my body. I felt like I was melting.โ€[4]


[1] Nathaniel Hawthorne, Transformation: Or, The Romance of Monte Beni (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1860), Chapter XLI: Snowdrops and Maidenly Delights. Hawthorne (1804-1864) is an American writer of novels and short stories mostly on moral themes, and a master of the allegorical and symbolic tale.

[2] Charlie Parker, No Bop Roots In Jazz: Parker (Down Beat, September 1949), 12; interviewed by Michael Levin and John S. Wilson. Also quoted in quotegarden.com and brainyquote.com.

[3] David Cope, New Music Composition (New York: Schirmer Books, 1977), 273.

[4] John R. Stowe, The Findhorn Book of Connecting with Nature (Forres, Scotland: Findhorn Press, 2003), 45. All italics are original apart from the four words and their enclosing square brackets.

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21 comments on “๐Ÿฆ… SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic ๐Ÿ

  1. I really like the Hawthorne quote you begin with and would have to agree that when I write something I am hoping that whoever reads it can bring back to me something that I did not see. It is funny how poetry is often something that stops conversation rather than begins it (at least this has been my experience). I think of it as eing a prompt for much discussion. I also feel that way about music and find that even though music is perhaps more easily felt by people than poetry is, music too seems like something with which to begin conversation because of the way in which it can put us in touch with what is going on both in us and around us.

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  2. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback, Jeremy. SoundEagle has pondered upon your comments above, and have come to the conclusion that one could indeed have the following reasons or issues to believe that poetry curtails conversation:
    1. In conveying meanings and messages, it could be argued that poetry is not as straightforward as prose (and tonal music in general), given that poetry requires more time and effort from the sender to encode, construct and convey, as well as from the receiver to decode, deconstruct and understand.
    2. Few people have the ability to converse with each other in poetry with ease and without (unintended) ambiguity or hesitation. Most of the time, poetry is a one-way conversation told by one person to the next in real time, or a solidary activity enjoyed by oneself as one reads it aloud or in silence. In other words, poetry is seldom part of a two-way interactive, responsive conversation for all intent and purpose. In contrast, people readily communicate with each other in prose, and many people can express, improvise or harmonise with musical phrases, counterpoints or melodies with varying success or sophistication.
    3. Since poetry uses words, and since it presents the aforementioned issues, it does not lend itself well to being interrupted or accompanied by other sounds, especially spoken words, without being perturbed beyond comprehension. In comparison, prose and music are less prone to being usurped in the presence of other sounds.

    Nevertheless, we did converse rather well with each other both within and without our poems, which have been judiciously punctuated by our proses and comments, with the scent of mutual appreciation poached in our abiding concerns and affinities towards the environment, plus the comments, songs and music that we share on WordPress. Since the “epicentre” or ground zero of the discussions on situation music resides in this post, let us also present here our other relevant conversations originally conducted elsewhere.

    Hi Jeremy,

    Thank you for publishing another thoughtful poetry. I cannot help noticing the initial similarity between your poem and my aphorism, in contrasting your first line โ€œI wander among the treesโ€ with mine โ€œI looked up at the coconut treesโ€. Perhaps that is more than a coincidence.

    Your poetry, or at least your using the French words โ€œles feuillesโ€, reminds me of the 1945 popular French song โ€œLes feuilles mortesโ€ (literally โ€œThe Dead Leavesโ€) sang by Edith Piaf and Yves Montand with music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prรฉvert, and later tranlated into English as โ€œAutumn Leavesโ€ by the American songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1947. Besides, that very season has dawned again where you live.

    It is fair to acknowledge that Nature (and its nonhuman inhabitants) can be a casualty of wars, conflicts and industrial progress too, not just a witness of them.

    I noticed that you have done your โ€œSoundWalkโ€, so to speak, being one with nature and remembering and reminiscencing certain figures, known or unknown. And I suppose that your personal affinity with trees, your keen sense of history and your recall of certain events from the past have certainly coloured your โ€œSituation Musicโ€.

    For your information, I have made amendments and improvements to my new post at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/soundeagle-in-art-aphorism-and-paramusic/

    I really liked your article on โ€œsituation music.โ€ I think it is fascinating and very insightful. I read it early this morning and am thinking about it off and on, between work on my dissertation. I like the idea of situation music because it fits very much into the way I feel when I am in nature. You pegged it: history, reminiscence, memory, sensation, kinship with nature.

    I am not a musician but I adore music and always have. I have found that music has always played a vital role in my verbal/lyric compositions, the way I see the world around me, the way I respond to ideas. I imagine my poetry to be, at times, soundscapes.

    Thank you for the โ€œLes feuilles mortesโ€ recommendation. I like Montand and Piaf, not to mention Prevertโ€™s poetry. This sounds like it is right up my alley.

    Hello Jeremy,

    I thought that I should reply to you before retiring for the night.

    As you might still recall from our extended discourse at http://thesandcounty.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/the-bells/, just as having academic training does not invariably shield or automatically immunise academics from the issues and problems of which we were discussing, I believe that you can also gauge for yourself that well-trained musicians, in spite of their higher faculties in music, are not always untouched by or impervious to many issues and problems faced or beset by non-musicians. To that extent, non-musicians are not necessarily disadvantaged in their ability to appreciate or understand the concept, applicability and relevance of situation music, because such ability is more correlated with or dependent on (the nature and extent of) peopleโ€™s affiliations, allegiances, kinships, worldviews, outlooks, upbringings, cultural capitals, social conditionings, spirituality, (moral) constitutions, lifestyles, as well as their openness and receptability to unaccustomed notions, potentials, orientations and activities associated with, provided or accompanied by situation music.

    Therefore, I would like you to know that you are valued highly and that I hold you in high esteem even if you had little or no musical training, and even if you, for whatever reason(s), could not appreciate or were ignorant of Montand, Piaf and Prรฉvert, for you seem to have been sensitive towards the language and sound of nonhumans, to have honoured their presence and importance, and to have paid homage to their footprints and ecological niches in your own poetic ways.

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  3. who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed. Their highest merit is suggestivenessโ€,

    We should never expect the artist in any medium to tell us what he/she meant. It is ours (the viewer) to embrace and decide.And the more possibilities that are found makes the piece ever dynamic not static. Then there are works with singular intent which is obvious not initiating conversation.What a cool gravatar you have. Thanks visit my blog.

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  4. […] SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic | SoundEagle […]

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  11. You’ve given me a lot to think about with this well researched and well crafted piece. Thank you.
    BB
    http://bulgingbuttons.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/daily-prompt-eye-of-the-beholder/

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  12. […] SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic | SoundEagle […]

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  13. […] An epitome of elegance | Inception 9. Daily Prompt: Eye of the Beholder | Moments Thru Lens 10. SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic | SoundEagle 11. Daily Prompt: Eye of the Beholder by michelle w. on October 5, 2013 | Indira’s Blog 12. […]

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  14. […] SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic | SoundEagle […]

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  15. Hello there , how are you ? What are u up to for the week end ? Our local community is celebrating the Chinese New Year & we have a dragon parade , fire crackers & a high pole lion dance planned on Sunday .

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  16. Hello there how r u ? What have u been up to ? I’ve enjoyed your work – thanks for that .

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  17. Thank you for the music , it has been relaxing & calming . Your reference to nature & the chart are very exciting ! The reference to findhorn amazing – I would put the book up there with my fav reads . In the book there are references to garden fairies & a special spiritual experience apparent by bypassing the extreme climatic conditions to achieve outstanding results in a horticultural form . When I read this book reccomended by a v old friend of mine I was excited in a special way – it fuelled my love of horticulture to another level .

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  18. […] SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic (soundeagle.wordpress.com) […]

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