Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Music: A Question of Definition

I have begun reading a memoir by a distinguished news-media celebrity who describes his taking up the piano as an amateur after decades of not playing.  I am reading it out of curiosity to discern whether I can tell what on earth he is talking about when he refers to "music."

It is clear from the beginning that we are not talking about the same thing.

He seems to take his definition largely from 1) his mother; 2) piano teachers he has known and .... ; 3) recordings; 4) prominent pianists whose definitions of music may be as far off of common experience as his own definition of reading.

In all his attention to his pursuit of what he calls the "impossible" he has not so far mentioned listening as the essential factor, except as it refers to listening to recordings, not at all the same thing as listening to the sounds one makes oneself.