some ideas about music

Music is a time-based art form. It uses the technologies of its era to convey to us the preoccupations and ideas of our social environment. It has the power both to transform and mirror how we see ourselves and the world around us, by the fact that music has deep connections about how we represent emotion and our identity in society.

Music is an infinitely flexible medium of communicating complex information about ourselves through sound waves. Our ears which evolved for an entirely different purpose pick these signals up and decode them into information packets which our brain can process. It is exactly at this point where we discern pattern and order out of chaos and our mind becomes stimulated, that music happens.

From a listener’s perspective, I like to think that music can be analyzed using three different levels of experience, what I call the ‘conceptual’, ‘perceptual’ and ‘physical’ of music.

‘Conceptual’ listening engages us in meanings and intellectual constructions. The language of music and how emotion is conveyed in it. How we see our identity reflected in the patterns of the music and what those meanings are conveying. Idiomatic use of styles and conventions are very much tied to the function of how music is used in a social context and these can be transformed or subverted in music. Furthermore the social context and labeling of music can be a powerful factor in how we conceptualize the music, how we let it affect us.

The ‘perceptual’ in time based arts I define by how we perceive ourselves inside the music. The passing of time. How the space around us is changed by the music we hear. How we reflect on things that have happened a second before or an hour before. How the moment or the ‘now’ is expressed and perceived in relation to the duration that is set up in the music.

The sensual or ‘physical’ aspect of sound is its primal nature. The way our body reacts to the vibrations of the sound waves around us. The physical characteristics of the sound space and how sound feel before they are analyzed into meanings by our mind. Sound for sound’s sake. This is music as nature.

A composer, musician or sound artist simply brings these things together, synthesizes elements of the world around and inside us. In that sense one of the most exciting things for a sound artist to do , is to be able to reinvent form, because form is the frame by which we see things. It does not simply act as an architectural constraint but also relates to the outside world of forms and social dynamics that it is being carried in.

I like to think of music as neither an object or a commodity, but rather a fanciful elaboration of a duration of time, always in a state of transforming our perception of ourselves.

Yannis Kyriakides 2003