Thursday 21 November 2013

Ramblings on Mind, Body and Spirit

Early Greek philosophers were highly imaginative in describing what the universe was made of.  One said water, another fire, another, earth, etc. Their models had little to do with observation. Once the imaginative picture was formed, only then, it seems, did any rational thought kick in, to build up a detailed picure. Pythagoras was perhaps the first significant philosopher to combine his imagination with observation and rational thought to develop his mathematical, musical model of the universe. Plato shone the bright light of reasoned argument on this universe and the rest is history.

With regard to music, Pythagoras identified three types, described by the academics of the Middle Ages as musica mundana, the macrocosmic music of the spheres, musica humana, the microcosmic music contained by the human being and the lowest form of music, musica instrumentalis, the ordinary music made by musicians.

A distinction was commonly made between mere musical performers, cantores, and those considered to be the true artists, who theorised about music and its relationship with the cosmos, the musici.

Monday 11 November 2013

Ramblings About Music

I'm putting together a writing project about music which will develop over the coming months. I'm going to explore what might be called "the spirit of music", in an attempt to get to the core of what music is all about and maybe learn a few things along the way. This isn't going to be an academic exercise as I feel its a subject that will appeal to anyone with an interest in music, that is, everone I've ever come across. It'll be an exploration of various facets of music, including a bit of philosophy and the physics of the stuff, how the ear works and brain responds, etc. It's not a history project either but will involve delving into the past, solely for the purpose of finding out what's relevant and what's going on now.

The way I plan to do this is by incorporating another of my loves, walking in the countryside. I'm planning a series of walks along the scenic and historic way, Offa's Dyke, which runs the whole length of the English/Welsh border. Along these walks I'll be chatting and debating with my companions, thinking about and meditating on music and recording my experiences: Ramblings About Music - get it? Walking is a great allegory for music as you will see and I hope my companions along the way will add to the experience in their own style.

There seems to be a need today to look back at the simpler, more spiritually inclined music of the pre-1800s, to discover and reclaim the inner heart, the soul of music, so I plan to take this premise, go back to those earlier times, grab hold of what I find there and drag it through into the 21st century. You'll find a developing outline of what I'm planning at and if you would like to follow and add your own opinions and comments along the way, you can do this via Facebook -  I'd love you to join in and come with me. Over the winter I'm reading and gathering info., expanding the outline of the project and then the walks, with photos and recordings start when the weather permits in the spring of 2014.