Thursday, September 16, 2010

Among the most powerful images we carry around with us are those we learn early on, when first beginning to study music. Among these are quarter notes, associated with beats, and the musical staff with five alphabet-named lines. All of these images affect the way we process written music and very often they distract from our perception of musical sounds and rhythms.

Since about 1963 people have been seriously studying the effect of writing on thought: what a huge difference an alphabet makes! It's about time we were more aware of the effect of notation on music perception.

As important as reading music is--and I believe it is very important--it must refer primarily to what is heard, not what is seen.