Sunday, October 19, 2008

“The Meaning in the Music”

The meaning in the music, for me, comes from the subjective values associated with its composition and instrumentation, and not the object value of lyrics.

The meaning in the music comes from its interpretation. What was the composer’s musical intent in writing the score? What did the composer intend to communicate? A music composition is a painting in sound with many different brushes, brush strokes, and colors. Ones interpretation and musical view may be different from another’s. That is what makes good music interesting and of value.

The affixations that are added, such as its lyrics, performance lighting, light shows, glistening and colorful instruments, psychedelic appendages, costuming, stagecraft, dancing, and acrobatics, distracts the listener from the essence of the music. The music then becomes entertainment, which is the only value of most of today’s music, which in fact are only musical performances. For example, “American Idol” maybe an entertaining exposition, it is entertainment and has object value, the search for a superstar, but not an exploration for meaningful good music.

The meaning in the music comes into fruition when I listen, and only listen, to the music, free of any detraction or other influences. Music with meaning is like good art, or a good book, something you can listen, view, or read over and over again, and each time find some additional nuance.

Within a jazz performance, when the musicians know their instruments and are not encumbered by technique, but are free to simply play anything that comes to mind (getting in the groove, as they say), there is always musically something different and new. This cannot be achieved without improvisation, and it certainly cannot be achieved when lyrics are added.

The indispensible consciousness of listening to live music performances is non-existent when it’s viewed in any two-dimensional format of a non-live performance as in musical video, a film strip, or in a sound manipulated recording.

Music of high quality is transcendent; its value is beyond the ordinary range of perception; it embraces other dimensions. A live performance at Boston’s Symphony Hall, either by the BSO, the Boston Pops, or a jazz performer, when one closes their eyes and just listens, is surreal. It’s spiritual; there is a real connection one has with oneself and the music; and for those who are acutely conscious there is a soul connection between you and others in the audience, just as there is that connection between the performer and the audience.

There are many compositions performed live, not a particular song or album, in which the meaning for me is in the music in-and-of itself, and never of other adornments, such as lyrics. All of the dimensions of participating in a live performance can never be captured in an album, CD, or DVD.

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green