Sunday, February 28, 2016

Real Surreal

Why do we have music?  And why do some folks express themselves musically?

From a science and engineering perspective, it's all surreal. Darwin has nothing to say on the subject, and interestingly, modern behavioral scientists have little to offer.

Experientially, while not all music is great or even good, some music can transport us into an almost indescribable place. Among thousands of examples, the video here is of a young lady singing O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini's one act opera.  It appears that the opera's story line is not a relevant factor, but the music is standalone magic.  There is a wealth of confirmation for the affect but none for the cause even when 'why' is part of the article's title.

There are a myriad of scholarly articles describing the place of music and its impact on society and culture, but there is little more than speculation on the origin of great music or great musicians, and even less on why some affects us in such an unworldly manner. It's easy to see why someone might want to be a musician, but it's impossible (so far) to convincingly describe the evolutionary arrival of the art form or the reason for its impact.

Beyond the sex/drugs/rock-and-roll culture which is a comparatively shallow performance realm, great music opens up a magnificently different world than that which we see each day.  Read and judge for yourself.

Question of differentiation:  is there a substantial difference between being emotionally moved by dancing with the crowd in a nightclub and being individually uplifted intellectually and emotionally by 'great music'?

Why might such music bring tears to our eyes?  We can trace the neurological path for such an experience, but we have no explanation for why it happens.  It suggests, as has often been bandied about, that a narrow scientific view perhaps misses much of reality, things it considers unscientific or surreal and therefore irrelevant.  Could such thinking be perhaps a bit hubristic? Of course the mind of the person of science can encompass all that is and do so in rational terms, can it not?  Not, of course, as in, "of course not."  :)

We live in a culture that willingly discounts anything outside their math and mind model. Faith, in the common forum, is considered silliness.  That's had a rather high price tag in recent decades.



I suspect that the truly great musicians and perhaps the artists as well push the objectivist boundaries in a manner not unlike that in which people of faith thrive despite the rather harsh opposition.  It does make you wonder.


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