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Perhaps the question was not well-formeg -- "silence" and "music" here
both being "psycholinguistic bombs"; the "That's glory for you" of
Humpty-Dumpty fame. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humpty_Dumpty
"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,'" Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't – till I
tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"
"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument,'" Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone,
"it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."
To frame my response, I proposed my context. That's glory for you. As
a former performer, I was very lazy and did not want to play more than
half the time, so I played tuba in a Bavarian OOooomm-pa band. [My
favorite orchestral piece was Das Lied von der Erde, where the tuba
plays for six measures. It seems Mahler forgot that he wasn't using
tuba and added it to one page of the score, doubling the bass. That's
about $50 per note.] In a recent 7.1 channel composition, one channel
has no sound for about three minutes; it remains silent (but don't
tell the other six channels which play almost continuously.
In my first response I framed the issue in terms of segmentation,
which has underlying issues of time -- a term as yet to be defined.
The ability to measure time, in seconds, can be learned; for me,
somehow an internal clock counts relatively independently of the
external event stream. With music(s), Afghani raga to Inuit throat-
singing (almost) to Gruppen, my 'clock' keeps ticking and I'm usually
very close to the elapsed time in my estimate. In these circumstances,
I tend to hear silences as "empty vessels", with longitudinal
properties, width, but no fixed vertical property. They are black. To
pass time in a boring meeting, I look around and "see" an empty black
container and experience 'silence', despite the noise.
My position returns to that of being -- reality is perceptual. The
perception may be real or imaginary, and is unique to each individual.
This has a way of complicating communications.
Best wishes on the path
Date: Sun, 5 Jul 2009 11:14:13 -0700
From: christopher jette <christopherjette@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: About silence and breath
I have enjoyed this thread of discussion and while I may not be
great deal of substance to the discussion, I would like to make an
observation. Kevin begins his response by qualifying his perspective
of a composer, previously another responder elucidated the role of
demarcating phrases in traditional forms. This made me take a step
say "what is the role of silence in music? depends on what you mean by
music." This has obviously changed as music has changed and I can
imagine a responder qualifying their remarks by asserting that they
music which is of X persuasion. This is all my way of saying that
rests, breaks, segmentation or what have you are part of a
vernacular not a
language. If this conversation were to poll millions of people
world, the perspectives on what is meant by music and by silence....
might be interesting and certainly there would be some common camps.
It seems to me that the first step in modeling silence is to define
context. In classical forms, indeed one must consider the phrase and
manner in which it commonly (even statistically) functioned. To this
might point out the work of the composer Clarence Barlow in his
Autobusk and in the interest of disclosure he is also one of my
On Sun, Jul 5, 2009 at 10:30 AM, Kevin Austin <kevin.austin@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Responding as a composer, not a scientist, in this context I have
word "segmentation" to mean to determine where something 'begins' and
'ends', possibly a very low level (fundamental) process, and this
use) is perceptual. Segmentation therefor occurs at many levels,
dependent upon the perceptual / cognitive processes of the