Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson

Subject: Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson
From: Eliot Handelman (
Date: Tue Oct 04 2005 - 15:44:42 EDT

Richard Wentk wrote:

> eliot wrote:
>> Clearly any sense of expectency in music, the feeling that music
>> "should" go this way or that
>> is narrative, because "go" is a narration all by itself.
> This sounds like the mistake Kevin made about speech being timbral.
> Speech may be timbral, but (if we can understand it) we don't hear it
> as timbre in the musical or acoustic sense, we hear it as language -
> as something that has more in common with written words than it does
> with abstract sound.
> So in the same way we don't hear music as narrative in the linguistic
> sense, even when there's a sense of tension and development. Any more
> than we experience a streetmap as narrative when we're trying to 'go'
> from one place to another.

But "narrative" doesn't necessarily mean that we can put it into words.
If you agree with Jaynes,
it's part of consciousness. That means that if we are conscious of it,
we're narrating it, or
there is some sort of narration happening at a brain level which is an
aspect of our awareness.

It's surely true that my brain is NOT narrating phonemes though: these
are transparent
to me, ie, I'm barely aware of them at all (unless I'm irritated by the
guy's voice,
or "I love listening to the sound of your voice!")

Similarly, my brain is not "narrating" an array of horizontals and
verticals: but it's computing a
narrative in which those data play some part (as do my schemas, etc.)

On the other hand, if I look at a Mondrian, then in some sense low-level
visual elements
do come to the fore. And this is some aspect of what art is, I think,
though not
necessarily music.

I think what Kevin wants to do is take hearing apart the way (eg) cubism
in some way
takes vision apart. But I think this can only be done through metaphor and
analogy, and I';ve never been clear on K's stand about this. It's
problematic to me
that Kevin doesn't want to say "music" but instead says "studies."
Mondrian IS
painting, and I don't see why any analysis of what hearing is like could
be knowable as anything
but music.


> It's true there's some overlap - just as it's true that speech is
> timbral - but I think this is missing out some important differences
> between musical perception and the experience of textual or dramatic
> narrative. Not least of which is the difference between associative
> and concrete modes of perception.

Once again, back to the bergson example. You play a stacc. note (say,
c5), wait 5 seconds, and then play d5.
the hypothesis here is that you hear the d5 as the c5 "having gone up."
That's a narratization.

-- eliot


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