Friday, July 2, 2010

On the subject of theoretical explanations blocking the perception of sound itself: All of my teaching of children can be categorized as experimental in the same sense that child-rearing is experimental, especially in this era of constant change. As the ground shifts under our feet we have to be flexible.

One of my prize students has been improvising since he was seven; he is now a senior in college. I have not taught him anything about theory though I draw his attention again and again to overtones. His improvisations have become increasingly organized in a way that I can comprehend using my own tendency to resort to music theory to account for what I hear.

Perhaps it is out of a Faustian bargain that we seek to prolong the moment of perception rather than allow it to be fleeting.

He does not listen to music that even remotely resembles his improvisation and will most likely not turn out to be a composer. I have always found passages in the words of the masters that use overtones in a manner consistent with his ear, so he knows that potentially relevant music does exist. He is a visual artist whose strength, as he is repeatedly told, is color.