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Recursion and Reflection


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                                                                                                                                                 The scope of music

In his 1992 book, Music and the Mind, Anthony Storr quotes John Blacking, “Human attitudes and specifically human ways of thinking about the world are the results of dance and song” (p24). I think Blacking got it half right. The relationship between the dance and song or art in general, and human attitudes and perception is a recursive, self-referential phenomena.

Life informs art and art informs life. Music is an expression of mood, or struggle. The raga and the jazz composition, the fugue and the polyphonic cycles of the gamelan are all metaphors, reminiscent and symbolic of the mathematical expansion and biological growth of plants and populations, trees and ideas, of life itself. A seed is formed through a mystery of creation. It is nurtured by energy, by thought. It develops into a fully formed composition.

Whether the seed is an image in the mind, an engineering concept, a tone row or a raga, if the seed is developed properly, with grace and passion, the viewer, client, or listener is transported to a place that is in harmony with that initial mystery of creation. Art informs life informs art. Duke Ellington asks: “What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the ‘esperanto’ of the world” (Ellington). 
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By Leo LaBarge
Leo is a percussionist and an educator. Read his thoughts about the scope of music.
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