Subject: Re: Gestalts under the pretext of Melodic consonance From: Alexandra Hettergott <a.hettergott(at)WANADOO.FR> Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 02:57:19 +0200
Pierre Divenyi <pdivenyi(at)MARVA4.NCSC.MED.VA.GOV> wrote (in part) : >[...] thinking of music. It is clear that the >comprehension of a longer piece, e.g., a Mozart symphony, or even a >movement thereof, is entirely dependent upon the perception, the >short-and-long-term memory for, and the internal organization ofshorter >elements -- such as themes, motifs, harmonic progressions and digressions, [...] >Because this 30-minutes piece would have no head or >tail without knowing at the very beginning where it is going, or at the >very end what it has been through, [...] >Maybe one day we could see neurophysiological traces of such a >[transformed] spatial Gestalt for auditory objects because, technological advances of >recent years notwithstanding, I think that in-depth and meaningful analysis >of 30-minutes brain activity records is a pie in the sky. Even though I appreciate your reflections and am also of the opinion that there are (tonal/formal) aspects (principles) that are more constraining/constructive (in the sense of appealing to something like a "musical logic") than others, like, e.g., a certain introduction/finish, hence the impression of some formal "closure" (and consequently some "gestalt"), or some (rather) fixed formal course as, e.g., a strophic, "rondo", or "sonata form" (exposition, development, recapitulation..., sort of a dialectic method), it has to be stated that, firstly, this does above all concern compositions of a certain traditional "classical" character and, naturally, less those corresponding to a so-called "open" form rather (while I wouldn't want to judge either of them from an artistic point of view...), and secondly, that the ("gestalt") expectations in those cases certainly are also conditioned by cultural/individual (compositional/listening) conventions. The analysis of brain activity during 30-minute musical pieces therefore would have to take the (degree of) individual familiarity with a formerly acquired (traditional/modern "classical" Western) music style (or piece of music) into account, also with regard to the respective brain regions involved (as regards first processing and gradually consolidating information, structural information transfer). Imagine, for instance, 30 minutes of non-ton(ic)al meditative music (i.e., (s)low in gestures and dynamics) ; there too might be the case where more traditional structuring effects, like those of opening/closure, alternation of or pauses between movements, etc., might be supplemented/substituted (or even suppressed) by other, (perhaps also) more technology-related ("artificial") mechanisms (e.g., "fade in/out", longer periods of absolute silence, skipping or randomizing of sections, etc.), where I too might point out that the about three minutes of (traditional) song/Lied form is another interesting convention (that might not to a lesser degree determine formal "closure" expectations). Finally, it might be interesting to state (also with regard to what Brad Libbey is mentioning) that in vision it is above all in the spatial, in audition in the temporal domain where the perception of form(al "gestalt") is taking place (if one (unlike you, interestingly) does want to strictly separate the one from the other at all...). ..... Sincerely, Alexandra Hettergott.