MUSIC

Teaching Studio

We live in a culture which has seen so many boundaries broken, has so many ways of living, ways of seeing, ways of making art. We do not have, relative to past times or other cultures, a very strong focus into a mainstream for the making or experiencing of art.

 

In general, there are two aspects of the spiritual in art.

 

The first aspect, which for some is actually the only aspect, is that of communicating, that is, what is the medium through which the transfer happens? From the artist to the other, a transfer of something takes place. Even for the most private and detached artist, there is a medium, which really means an in-between. Perhaps there is a painter somewhere who absolutely disdains all viewers. Even so, when they put a brush in the paint and touch it to a surface, they are using a medium which others can see. That is the main point. As humans, we share the basics of the human version of sight, which is dependent upon functioning eyes and the other physical features of nerves and brain as well as the visual consciousness. Of course, it is the same with sound, with words, and so forth, each in its own way. Without the physical senses and the consciousness of the sense, we would perceive nothing of the medium. From the physical actions of the artist, making visuals, making sounds, making language, to the physical act of another human engaging those creations with the senses which can perceive them, some kind of something somehow takes place. That, in a very important sense, is all we need to know.

 

The second aspect, which I believe to be of equal importance to the first aspect of human to human communication, is that of the inherent, natural qualities of the medium, be it paint, sound, or whatever. For example, a perfectly tuned octave is inherently different from a dissonant interval such as a minor second, regardless of the culture of anyone listening to it. It is different in terms of the physics of sound, in the way the vibrations of the minor second beat against each other in the air and in our ears, while the vibrations of the octave fit perfectly within each other without any beating. Of course, a minor second can be very beautiful at times, just as beautiful as an octave, but it can never be the same. The artist makes use of an understanding of the different characteristics of the elements of their medium to create what they want, and that, then, is perceived by another through two aspects, one being the 'filter' of cultural/personal conditioning and the other being the inherent nature of the materials of the medium. Incidentally, in the world of words it may seem that the scale is tipped entirely toward the cultural, yet at the ultimate foundation of words is pure meaning within sounds, which is a fascinating and extremely complex subject, one which is again firmly defined by the two aspects of human conditioning and inherent quality coming from the nature of things.

 

Perhaps there is a third aspect, which is the human instinct that communication is possible and worthwhile. While some artists may feel that in a world which panders increasingly to the lowest level, it is only genuine to pursue one's work with no attention to any audience, this attitude is one which underneath is seeking to restore genuine communication, which is seen to be, perhaps, beyond repair. But despite such problems, the human instinct is that communication is possible and somehow of inherent positive quality. The basis for all spiritual understanding is that it is possible to cross the gap between the inner and outer worlds. Odd as it may seem on the surface, there is an underlying thought in the arts just as in sports that the artist (or sports competitor) is on some level representing us, they are on some very deep level doing it for me. We have connected. We use our eyes and our ears to connect. With music in particular, there is a magic involved; in a way we can not understand, sound vibrations, in all their complexity, somehow can convey feeling, that is, they can actually transport direct feeling, what might be called meaning, although words can not be put to this meaning. If we can imagine something like telepathy, direct understanding, but can not actually believe in it, it is because we don't accept an understanding of its method, its mechanics. Yet we can observe, and leave it to others to explore its means, that sound is the medium for direct understanding, that infinite understanding can be encoded into complex sounds which we can learn to make, and that since we are humans in the physical world, we can discover this means to communicate directly with other humans in the same physical world, a discovery which includes music in its most open definition, and which joins the first two aspects of communication and the nature of the medium, and achieves that first axiom of spiritual awareness, that it is indeed possible and inherently positive to communicate, from one inner world to another.