Thursday, February 28, 2013

Memory of Things Unheard

Among the strongest influences in my creative life have been two friends, one a visual artist, the other a poet.  In conversation the other day the novelist Jose Saramago's description of the real subject matter of painting came up, specifically that every good painting depicts something unseen.  The question arose whether there is a comparable level of content in music.

I maintain that it is memory: Every musical sound refers to some remembered sound, whether "the same" or not.  Perhaps it is to remind us of this simple truth that so much European music contains quotes from nature and from other sources (I refer to European music because it is the music I know best, not to exclude every other music).

It is a real loss that, in the name of music, so many young children are being force-fed tunes and notes as if that constitutes the blood and breath of the real thing.