|Want something done right? Then do it yerself. Or so the well-chewed chestnut has it. Seems as good as any other hook to open today's feature with. Because it's an interview between - er, me, myself and I. That's of course two too many for a soliloquy, one too many for a candid dialogue. We'll drop one of the suspects for a civilized discourse then unless he butts in on occasion like the Heyoka or Court jester who peppers the proceedings with humor, sarcasm or other revelatory indignities for the main cast.
Frankly, Stephæn's "Reviewing the Reviewer" in these pagean pages gave me the idea. For truly, there's no better way to get inside a reviewer's head -- to learn how he hears and what's important to him -- than this type of insight exposé. Rather than an unsavory enterprise in self-congratulatory narcissism, in the right hands it can turn into a valuable tool to build a bridge between a writer's personal island of perception and your own. While perception is very personal indeed, impressions about audio equipment gleaned from an experienced listener can be useful if we know how to interpret and relate them to our own requirements and reality.
|Well Señor Srajan, now that you've so unceremoniously arranged for your own pulpit, what do you have to say for yourself?|
|Perhaps we should start at the beginning? The very beginning? Many a creationist story of cosmological genesis -- from our diverse religions, legends and philosophies -- claims that in the beginning, there was nothing but the sound. Om. This sound or vibrational seed syllable was endowed with intent. Creation as we know it spun out from this primary frequency.
In their own terminology, our scientists today agree. All matter is simply vibrating energy that appears solid, as a standing wave.
|From that we might extrapolate that the cosmos, with us in it, is a vast field of intersecting oscillating frequencies that vibrate at different rates, slower for extremely dense phenomena in form, faster for lighter or more transparent ones. Human reality is a function of limited bandwidth of perception. We know the limits of human hearing and sight. We know how realms above and below our biological cutoff points exist in which some creatures on this planet still operate. Examples are infra-red or ultra-violet bands of light, ultra-sonic domains of sound, psychic realms peopled by ghosts or recently deceased, altered-state expanded visions that perceive everything as made of light.|
|I assume you're going somewhere with this drivel?|
|Drivel this. Say the psycho-physical human organsim was simply an aggregate of standing waves, with a base or fundamental frequency and a staggering array of complex harmonics whose "signature" would be as unique as our iris or finger prints. Dissonances in our "chord" would relate to minor blockages or outright internal conflict (dis-ease) anywhere in the physical, mental, emotional or higher psychic levels of our compound being. The basic amplitude of this chord -- as modulated by mood and vitality -- would be related to presence. Does this particular person make their sheer presence felt loudly or quietly, forcefully or subtly? Or is it mostly suppressed, primarily absorptive without radiating anything back into the world, a vampire/vacuum?
Do you meet someone whose base frequency is similar or complementary to yours and corresponds in a - ahem, harmonious fashion? Can you hear the music of the spheres go off in the wedding chapel, envision the heartfelt embrace of friend- or kinship?
This "walking chord" is seemingly defined in space as a separate entity. It appears to have clear-cut physical boundaries. However, it is constantly bombarded by and exposed to complex streams of energies, from sunlight to radio transmissions, from electromagnetic radiations to planetary and cosmic rays, from mental emanations called thoughts to emotional "vibes" transmitted by others. This entity is thus literally bathing in an endless sea of vibrations. It's absorbing and transforming them into different forms. Sunlight into vitamins. Oxygen into heat. Food stuffs into molecular constituents that change via chemical reactions into heat units to recharge our nervous system's battery or build physical cells. This being also always radiates out energies. It creates a heat signature, it emits thoughts, it radiates feelings, it broadcasts a tacit presence, it speaks words. It's thus a complex and selective biological transmitter, receiver and transformer. It intricately interacts and relates to environmental influences that are far greater than the visible small reality of that person's daily life.
|For a moment, look at physical reality as some form of cosmic symphony, ourselves as participatory instruments more or less well tuned or sync'd with the conductor. Doesn't it make sense that music, as intentional vibration, interacts in a very fundamental and direct way with our very being? Why different music would correspond to different "human chords"?|
Why music, simply through sympathetic resonance with our own frequencies, could stimulate us, heal us, energize us or drive us up the friggin' monkey tree?
|That theory is interesting but certainly not new. However, let's give you the benefit of the doubt to see what your point is in bringing all this up all over again.|
|The point? Simply that any discussion of music as a recreational force in our lives must look at the bigger picture, not necessarily for answers, but to at least ask the right questions that can hold the space for inquiry. There is a healing method involved with sound called toning. The basic understanding is that each healthy organ in a person's body vibrates at a certain frequency that constitutes its proper tone. A stressed, diseased organ's tone has fallen out of tune to create interference patterns (harmonic distortion) in the greater body-mind. The healer sings at the patient to feel which frequencies create a loop of sympathetic resonance that, like feedback, return to the healer. Those tones sung at the patient that are absorbed as though blotted out by a void indicate problem areas. This particular healing modality then involves setting up surrounding patterns of vibratory alignment that eventually stimulate the dissonant organ to get "unstuck" and resonate again at the proper rate.
This is a direct example of how sound affects our biology, possibly even altering our blood chemistry or causing a release-secretion of mood-altering agents. But music is of course more than just sounds. The sounds of music arise as patterns endowed with intent. These patterns -- rhythms, melodies, harmonies, time changes -- are a complex matrix that intimately interacts with the listener, on levels we're aware of as well as others we're not at all, or only subliminally.
The music of J.S. Bach is often cited as an example that appeals to the higher mind where geometric patterns of architectural infinity are appreciated. Certain slow movements in Anton Bruckner's symphonies are like devotional hymns of longing for the transcendental. They trigger a different psycho-physical nexus in our organic makeup than Bach. Other music makes us melancholy or happy, frisky or sleepy, nervous or unstable. It interacts with a literally different part of our being.
Any discussion of critical listening, to be inclusive and significant, cannot overlook the many very powerful ways in which music triggers bodily responses spanning the gamut from deep meditative states to emotionally intense experiences, mental appreciation to kinetic reactions wanting to move, dance or compress a few rolls of hay. So when we ask "What do you listen for?", perhaps a more appropriate way to pursue the same line of inquiry would be "How do you expect to be stimulated?" And just below that, we might ask "How versatile is your personal arsenal of reactions to music?"
|And below that one, how about: "What other sensory responses do you contribute to this experience besides your ears?" "What else is wired into this neural loop between your ears and brain?" "What else have you learned to bring to the party?" For surely, we can all predict that how these questions are answered will have a huge impact when we begin talking about what we're listening for, what we hope to take away from the gesture of hunkering down in front of our rigs to hit "play" and enter the zone. The zone of what, exactly?|
|Hey, it might turn out that your living room isn't properly zoned for such endeavors, right? You may have to retreat into the workout space or even bedroom. Or perhaps the musical zoning inspector should look at the clutter in your head space first or mandate a visit from the electrician to fix some of your internal wiring, patch up a few shorted connections perhaps?