PMFアーティスティック マネージャー、ニックによるエッセイ [from Nick] のvol. 3を公開しました。音楽、言葉、平和について語る第2弾 "Music is not a language" をどうぞご覧ください。 ※英文のみ
OK I sort of implied the opposite in the previous post, but spoken language is crucial to what we do at PMF. Flight reservations, daily emails, all manner of announcements – Piano coming through! Someone left a jacket in Room 4! Your lunches are backstage! – and of course musical instruction from faculty and conductors – all of these depend on the concreteness that words can provide. No one is trying to sing what color of socks is required for a concert.
Music doesn’t have grammar, nor anything like a dictionary. Schoenberg’s masterpiece Verklärte Nacht is based on a poem but is for string instruments only. Imagine a million people listening to that piece for the first time, but without program notes. Would you guess they could, working together, ever come up with the poem “set to music” there? Or even, like, a tenth of the poem? I’m close to positive Schoenberg himself wouldn’t be able to do it without checking. The gap between the specificity of language and the communicative aspect of music is too wide; music and language are separate categories.
Even our bodies know this. Music and spoken language are processed by distinct region-groups of our brains, and they impact us in distinct ways. Maybe just as a quirk of personality, the level at which music hits me happens to be the deeper of the two. I’m curious if other people have the opposite experience: I can’t remember crying while reading a novel or a poem, but music has brought me to tears an embarrassing number of times. Great literature has changed my life many times over, and in ways that only language and narrative could, no doubt, but great music has done so more often, and more profoundly. At the worst moments in my life there was nothing that anyone could say, no words that could actually reach me, but even then certain music could. As far as I know it was the only thing that could. And the heights to which music has carried me are hard to describe; on a few occasions I have experienced a euphoria so all-consuming that I momentarily lost my sense of self. All of this speaks to a power that is not just distinct from that of language, but is better.
Composer Iannis Xenakis said, “Music is not a language. Every musical piece is like a complex rock, formed by ridges and designs engraved within and without, that can be interpreted in a thousand different ways without a single one being the best or the most true.” Like it or not, he's right. Doing away with the specificity of language is necessary to music’s ability to cut across all of our ideologies, all our baggage, and get down deep in us. It can flow into us unobstructed, from a composer with whom we have no cultural or linguistic overlap, maybe even whose philosophy we can’t abide, and across any span of time. People with little in common, even enemies can be (are! often!) moved by the same music. Precisely because it’s not a language, music is a medium that we can all share.