The uniqueness of music

Music may be a uniquely integrative activity. The deepest musical understandings come from singing, playing, writing (composing), saying (musical relationships), hearing (in the sense of “the seeing ear”), reading (in the sense of the “hearing eye”) and conceiving (musical structures). Whatever kind of understanding a musician has of music (in general, or of a particular piece or style), it will always be improved by doing all of these things. These are not merely different modes of “knowing”, or expressions of different learning styles, or activities aimed at different ends. They are “interactive” and “simultaneous” methods for the internalization of musical structure and style. The ability to do them all is evidence of that internalization.

Most disciplines involve some level of this integration of conceptual structure and praxis. It is not usually central to the discipline, however, and does not usually involve unique kinds of perception and action that have little direct application to other intellectual and physical activities. Most disciplines involve precise application of general skills (intellectual and physical) possessed by most people.

To put it simply: music exhibits all the intellectual subtlety of other disciplines, while demanding integration of that conceptual subtlety with perceptual and physical skills in unique ways. This is the internalization of structure.

We’ve now come around a sort of circle on these posts. If you’ve found any of this discussion convincing, it might be a good time to read this and this, both of which are all about the implications for faith integration of music as an internalized structure.

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