Re: The elephant and 'ea-ship' -- thoughts on

Subject: Re: The elephant and 'ea-ship' -- thoughts on
From: miriam clinton (iriXx) (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2005 - 18:41:14 EST

this interests me, as - with my experiences of thinking in pictures and
translating into music being something unique to me - your drawing of a
visual analogy is extremely natural.

but i'm wondering if it also imposes a visual view and visual method of
thinking on to e/a, when others may think purely verbally, or musically.

i'm wondering about the sort of music they would create if they werent
thinking visually - /and/ - how we can teach in the language of sound,
rather than in the language of our own words or pictures.

or is this impossible? is it as impossible to talk in music as it is for
me to verbalise my inner pictures? can we only draw analogies in music?

it would be disappointing, to me, if someone were to say yes to the
above question - although i think its highly likely - music is the one
art that is incredibly difficult to define or work with by itself,
without analogy. i can only do that in my own mind - but again, i'm not
thinking 'band pass filter here' i'm thinking 'picture of floating sound
with this kind of effect'.

others think differently. the reason i've never worked with
SuperCollider for example, or Csound, is that it requires verbal rather
than visual thinking. i'm more at home with IRCAM's AudioSculpt, or
NOTAM's Ceres3 - visual tools on a visual scan of my sounds
(deliberately avoiding /musical/ technical terms here).

but then again, it all depends on the way your temporal lobes are wired.


Kevin Austin wrote:

> I start music classes with the story of the elephant being described
> by the seven blind people, one each touching the ear, side, trunk,
> tusk, tail, leg, and foot. Each individual description of melody,
> harmony, rhythm, lyrics, emotion, social nature, acoustics,
> psychoacoustics, history is correct, but incomplete.
> One analogy I have for musicianship is drawn from the visual arts, the
> area of optical illusion where one sees the 'object' and the
> 'interpretation'. For me 'musicianship' (or rather ea-ship) is the
> (developed) ability to listen to the sound as "it is", and as "it
> alludes to be", and in the 'pre-' and 'post-perceptual' sense.
> On a small piano, a major triad is played. Listen to the 'whole' sound
> (integration) and at the same time hear the three individual notes
> (segregation). This is not a function of the 'sound' but of the
> perception of the sound.
> Play a chromatic cluster of B-F. Listen to / listen for the Eb. Listen
> for the complex spectrum of the cluster and segregate (out) a single
> element.
> Entering the temporal domain, the 'ea-ship' ear is able to create
> auditory hierarchies over time and group together the various levels
> of this grouping such that many layers can be perceived at the same time.
> At a very fundamental level in musicianship this is about hearing (and
> repeating) rhythmic structures, but not only rhythmic structures at
> the 'sound to sound' level, but the grouping into larger blocks -- a
> little like reading a sentence that has many phrases -- so that even
> while there may have been digressions through shaping, and repetition
> (yes, repetition), the mind continues to hold onto the starting place
> with an expectation of a logical outcome at some later time such that
> through this process of 'keeping track' of the elements (including
> determining 'on the fly' as to whether an element is structural,
> ornamental or at the level of commentary), this process of creation of
> hierarchy produces an 'internal map' of the entire structure.
> Sometimes this has to be repeated. Proust uncovered.
> The visual arts teach this to university-level students by having
> instructors who may give assignments that focus on one or more of
> these features, or levels of the elements of discipline. (The use of a
> restricted set of elements for example.)
> A parallel can exist in ea-ship (ElectroAcoustic STudies (EaSt)) where
> the student does specific kinds of exercises to explore and start to
> refine specific kinds of skills.
> Often the studies will be multi-tiered in nature such as "Record your
> voice." For most people, listening (hearing) their own spoken language
> is perceived at the 'post-perceptual' level. The words are heard, and
> the ability to hear the phonemic structure has to be developed, such
> as removing a specific letter, /s/ for example (but not /z/).
> As not every /s/ is the same, another (later) study can be added to
> this simple exercise by having the /s/'s placed in sequence of
> ascending central pitch. This works towards the development of
> language (or rather (perceptual) vocabulary) hierarchies. The
> development of digital technologies has aided in this work.
> A student could be asked to write down an invented soundscape ... "You
> are sitting in an armchair, in a room, not like the one you are
> sitting in now. Take five minutes and describe every sound that you
> hear. Categorize all of the sounds in a number of different ways."
> Repeat this exercise, and rather than describe the sound, describe the
> source of the sound.
> Repeat this exercise relating the emotional meaning (to you) of all of
> the sounds heard.
> Repeat the exercise and draw a timeline of the layers of sounds.
> Repeat the exercise and draw a non-time-based picture.
> In a list of 10 words or less, summarize the sounds heard.
> In a list of 10 words or less, summarize the meaning(s) of all the
> sounds heard.
> Write a paragraph such that the reader will hear these sounds as they
> read. (*)
> (*) As they sat heavily breathed in the damp, sober living room,
> through the slightly ajar window, the neighbor's childrens' sharp
> scream-laughs are underpinned by an oboe playing a liquid melody over
> the sound of a doorbell, while behind, church bells complemented the
> distant roar of the ocean, like the ever/never dying sleeping breath
> of the once and forever dead who share this room.
> The ea-ship of EaSt is multi-dimensional, and sometimes there are more
> dimensions than at other times.
> Best
> Kevin
> At 14:00 +1100 2005/02/02, David Hirst wrote:
>> In the visual arts, often the distinction is made between artist and
>> artisan, or art and craft. Perhaps musicianship may equate with an
>> artisan's skills......but I wouldn't this kind of pidgeon-holing.
>> DH
>> At 09:45 PM 1/02/2005 -0500, Ian Chuprun wrote:
>>> What would be a term for musicianship in the visual arts? Does it
>>> exist? Musicianship in music does not seem to stop with technical
>>> skill either, but I cannot think of how a visual artist would
>>> understand this idea.
>>> Is there a term for 'musicianship' for studio-based ea? I remember
>>> this topic came up here a few years ago and John Young had an
>>> interesting take on it, but I dont remember if the discussion ever
>>> got resolved in any way.
>>> Ian
>> David Hirst
>> Senior Lecturer, Educational Design
>> Information and Education Services
>> University of Melbourne
>> Victoria, 3010
>> Australia
>> ph +61 3 8344 7568
>> Fax +61 3 8344 4341

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