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The creative value of folklore.

1. Introduction

I seek to contribute to a wider understanding of contextual and cultural influences on the contingencies of the production of musical sound, the relationships created in musical performance, the social relationships of music making, the physical effort of song and dance, and the listener's specific cultural baggage. The mainstay of the paper is formed by an analysis of the issue of music and social interaction, the detaching of music from place and its embedding in new contexts, the ubiquitous nature of music, the production and consumption of music, and the link between the polylheticity of the musical piece and its temporality. Scholarly research reveals strong correlations between the nature and course of music making and music production, views of music engendering forms of behavior, the inter-relational elements of improvised performance, the symbolic spatiality of music, and the impossibility of monothetically grasping the musical work.

2. The Phenomenology of Music Listening

Black claims that in theorizing the aural we may lose sight of a host of interrelated visual facets that can impact the human experience and interpretation of sound: the body is performative, communicative and central in the formation of outlooks or subjectivities. The aesthetics of how coordination is carried out is a significant aspect of the role of the body in sung performance. Making music together involves coproducing sound in time, and the body is a primary resource for synchronizing with other performers. "In choral performance, rhythmic entrainment is coupled with the physical effort of lungs inhaling and exhaling and vocal cords vibrating to produce polyphony." (1) Beeman holds that there is no specific prohibition of music in Islam, and there are no Qur'anic verses that can be unambiguously interpreted as allowing music (music is accepted by some as religiously legitimate and by others as prohibited). Both religious officials and individual Muslims express different attitudes toward the production and consumption of music (music is an essential part of life in the Islamic world). The sounds of Middle Eastern music are actively listened to throughout the Islamic world. Prohibitions against music and music consumption are derived primarily from the hadith. The religious prescriptions deriving from the hadith have formed a rough tradition surrounding the use of music. (2)

Pedone notes that, for Schutz, the starting point of a phenomenology of music coincides with the moment of listening: a work of music neither coincides with its score nor with its performance. The score and the performance represent material means of communicating the musical thought, the capacity of locating a sound or of estimating its distance is derived from spatial experiences which are established in advance and extra-acoustic, and the temporality of the musical piece is an essential condition of its actual existence and a specific characteristic of the possibility of conveying its meaning (like the mathematical demonstration, the musical work is also constituted polythetically). Pedone claims that the composer, the performer and listener find themselves involved in a network of relationships. The musical work is an intrinsically temporal object, meaningful and nonconceptualizable, the role of the performer restores the composer's inner stream of consciousness, making it available to the listener, whereas the experience of listening should be collocated as an object of philosophical reflection. (3)

3. The Relationships Created in Making and Listening to Music

Warren focuses the ethical relationships within the performance and reception of improvised music, examining the human relationships within music making: the application of musical improvisation to social relationships relies upon the 'mysterious power' of music either in its ability to be an agent of communication or enable freedom, making music together is social and different every time, and relationships and responsibilities to other people play an important role in making music together. Warren states that in the process and experience of improvised music, social relationships are created, being part of society. Common "powers" attributed to improvised music include the ability to alter people and the world, and the ability to communicate, the concept that improvisation is an easy way of making music is a misguided one, and improvisatory relationships are found in the creation of musical sound, and in the social relationships created.

Thus it is clear that improvised music is created through, interpreted by, and negotiated in human relationships, whereas the process of improvisation, interaction and responsibility to others is common to all music performance, and to interpretation and to human relationships. The conception that music has a power to alter people is the main social impact of music, the relationship between numbers of people and systems of organization can be found in musical and social organization, and some aspects of performance can be applied to social relationships. Warren argues that everything that we listen to constitutes part of our musical training, the power that music holds comes from our cultural understanding of music, and the cultural power music holds to alter people emanates through the relationships created in making and listening to music. (4)

Cooke analyzes how music can create spaces for social interaction and transformation: music is a powerful connoter of place, but it is also easily detached from place. Purely musical constructions of space involve the relationships of centre and periphery, and the subnotational nuance. "Music constructs a virtual reality to the extent that its reality is not simply an epiphenomenon of the world outside music, that it results from the actions of free individuals motivated by inherently musical contexts. Yet while the music lasts, the reconciliation is not just virtual: it is not just a metaphor but a metonym of the world beyond the music." (5) According to Lewis, improvisation is a ubiquitous method of meaning exchange in any everyday life interaction, transcending musical history and practice itself (the perception of rupture draws sustenance from an assumption of commonality, and ruptures in the arts are consciously asserted). "Music has provided us with an ideal platform for experiencing the condition of improvisation, for investigating its effects, and divining its future--and ours as human beings." (6)

Parmer defines performing as that physical activity through which music is brought into existent, audible actuality (playing involves an embodied experience of music). The musical work becomes the performance process through which music enters actuality in specific contexts of actual artistic production (the musical work is the work performers undertake to give birth to music in actual practice). Parmer points out that contemplating performance events reduces the experience of music to a function of listening to somebody else make music, and provides a discourse limited to articulating what transpires only within that function. "Listening" forms an integral component of the performer's experience of music. Music can exert social force if it achieves materiality in real performance situations. "Musicology harbors a prejudice against the performer: its assimilation into technical rationality that ideology which reduces practice to a supplement of research-has allowed musicology to displace music making altogether and to make of music an object for the subjective experience of listening-whether as a mental construct for aesthetic contemplation or as the focus of audience gazing." (7)

4. The Evaluation of Hermeneutics for Musical Purposes

Jonte-Pace reads Freud as an interpreter of personal and cultural fantasies: death wishes toward the father and fears ofpaternal retribution shape all human relationships to the authorities of culture, state, religion, and family (in the male child's oedipal development, the child is moved to renounce incestuous wishes by castration anxiety). Dreaming of the death of "persons of whom the dreamer is fond" indicates a death wish toward the person. If death is our final destiny, the myths give the hero a choice where no choice actually exists. The notion of immortality involves the escape from death by living forever (the belief in one's own immortality is an unconscious constant). I think Jonte-Pace is right in claiming that Freud links the experience of postponed gratification with belief in the afterlife (the ideas of God and the afterlife are illusory): the belief in the afterlife fulfills our wishes and has harmful social effects. The notion of an afterlife implies a heavenly existence following death. (8) Sweeney remarks that Adler places considerable importance on the socio-psychological configuration of a family group. Every major personality approach to counseling and psychotherapy has incorporated Adlerian principles and techniques into its system. Sweeney defines wellness and positive psychology, and presents a model of wellness based in Adlerian precepts (individuals use symptoms to move toward fictional goals, based on the lifestyle). Positive psychologists seek to identify what makes life most worth living. Success in psychotherapy by Adlerians requires motivation modification. Psychotherapy addresses the methods designed to create the opportunities for fundamental life motivation modification. The principles of Individual Psychology apply to all interpersonal relationships. Lifestyle exploration does not require psychotherapy in order to be meaningful. "Adler's Individual Psychology enriches the classic model for career counseling by elaborating its constructs and extending its applicability to a wider range of clients. [...] An approach called career-style counseling resolves problems that arise in adapting Adlerian lifestyle methods and materials for clients who want to make a career choice." (9)

Adlington focuses upon Adorno's critique of musical temporality: Adorno documents the malicious spread of rationalized time, views time relations themselves as expressive of patterns of domination, and traces a tradition of deliberate denial of dialectical temporality in music (the value of particular types of musical experience lies in the resistance they exert against symbolic rendering). Adlington contends that Adorno urges the necessity of dialectical musical form, arguing for a "non-spatial" approach to temporality in music. Viewing temporality through the lens of negative dialectic has a metaphorical purpose. A musical presentation of dialectic properly reflects the subject-object antinomy. "Beethoven's music shows an almost ideal relationship between the material and the composer's creativity, allowing the emergence of a genuinely dialectical musical organization." (10)

Purcell says that Ricoeur's hermeneutics remains tied to the literary model of the text: hermeneutics can make its circle stimulating by affirming the status of inquiry itself, metaphor captures a primary way that radical semantic innovation occurs, self-recovery only ever occurs in the context of the world. (11) Tan et al. emphasize that, as Ricoeur puts it, the distancing of text from the oral situation causes a change in the relationship between language and the subjective concerns: distanciation is a standing separate from or being objective in relation to the text. Text displays a fundamental characteristic of the historicity of human experience. Discourse has a world and an "other," a hearer to whom it is addressed, and is not preserved entirely unchanged when committed to written form such as interview transcripts (in the case of speech, those who are involved in the discourse are present both with and to each other). "Ricoeur's theory of interpretation acknowledges the interrelationship between the assumptions made from the interpretation and that which is already known, possibly by the interpreter." (12)

5. Conclusions

Although researchers have discovered some important findings regarding the relationship between consonance and dissonance as properties of the universe of sound, the presence of the spatial element in music, the ontological statute of a musical work, the social relationships taking place during the listening to a piece of music, and the relationship between subjectivity and temporality in music, there is still a great deal that is unknown and that requires further empirical inquiry. The findings of this study have implications for the relationship between the specifics of the role of the body in music and sung performance, the production of sound, the boundaries of musical practice and understanding, the philosophical area of musical themes, and the inexorable temporality of the musical piece.


(1.) Black, Steven P. (2011), "The Body in Sung Performance," Anthropology News January: 10.

(2.) Beeman, William O. (2011), "Production, Hearing and Listening Intentional Participation in Musical Culture in the Islamic World," Anthropology News January: 11.

(3.) Pedone, Nicola (1995), "Intersubjectivity, Time and Social Relationship in Alfred Schutz's Philosophy of Music," Axiomathes 2: 197-210.

(4.) Warren, Jeff R. (2009), "Improvising Music / Improvising Relationships: Musical Improvisation and Inter-relational Ethics," New Sound 32: 94-106.

(5.) Cooke, Nicholas (2009), "While the Music Lasts: Music and Social Interaction," Cultural Policy, Criticism and Management Research 4: 9.

(6.) Lewis, George E. (2009), "The Condition of Improvisation," ISIM Keynote Address, Santa Cruz, 4.

(7.) Parmer, Dillon R. (2007), "Musicology as Epiphenomenon: Derivative Disciplinarity, Performing, and the Deconstruction of the Musical Work," Repercussions 10: 9.

(8.) Jonte-Pace, Diane (1996), "At Home in the Uncanny: Freudian Representations of Death, Mothers, and the Afterlife," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 64(1): 61-88.

(9.) Sweeney, Thomas J. (2009), Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Practitioner's Approach, 5 edn. New York: Routledge, 206.

(10.) Adlington, Robert (1997), "Musical Temporality: Perspectives from Adorno and de Man," Repercussions 6: 18.

(11.) Purcell, Sebastian (2010), "After Hermeneutics?" Symposium 14(2): 160179.

(12.) Tan, Heather, Anne Wilson, and Ian Olver (2009), "Ricoeur's Theory of Interpretation: An Instrument for Data Interpretation in Hermeneutic Phenomenology," International Journal of Qualitative Methods 8(4): 9.

[c] Otilia Pop-Miculi


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Author:Pop-Miculi, Otilia
Publication:Analysis and Metaphysics
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2011
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