What About Intuitive Understanding?
Do we need to know about composition, musical structure, writing a score, or play an instrument?
When people say they have no affinity with classical music, what do they mean? Let us ask first, what is classical music? Is the music of Mozart or Beethoven classical because it is older than our contemporary music? Or is it considered as classical because it falls in a certain historical timeframe? Or else is it classical because it obeys to certain proportions that have been called ‘divine proportions’ and that researchers found to exist everywhere in the universe?
These questions are not exclusive. One may use one or the other category or conceptual framework when talking about classical music. In our world of musical performance today all music that is not outright entertaining, such as dance, rock, pop or jazz music is called classical music. So far so good. But do you need to know about all of this, do you need to bother in order to enjoy listening to a piece of classical music?
I believe that musical knowledge comes only later, as a secondary experience, for it is of no importance for the direct impact music has upon us, when we listen innocently to it, preferably when we listen to it for the first time. I believe the important thing is to remain open to the direct touch of music upon us!
But I am saying more. I am saying that if you remain open for music, you remain open for life and for love. If you close yourself against music, you shut off your direct link with living and loving. This hidden connection cannot be denied.
Let me give a simple example. Take a mother and her baby. She thinks that she must follow the books for educating her child. She reads books on parenting and child psychology and when the baby gets naughty she hits the boy because she cannot control her emotions. This is because she has lost the direct link with her inner being. Instead of listening to nature, her inner voice, she listens to what others say, she wants to ‘acquire knowledge’ about parenting. Instead of singing to her baby or turning on the stereo and let her baby enjoy music, she sits there at the table to study her books.
You put Vivaldi and babies are happy. This is not a subjective choice, by the way. Research with babies and even the ones still in uterus have been tested as to their reaction to music. They were putting all kinds of music, virtually from Vivaldi to Pop. Result? Very clear-cut. The negative reactions of the infant were with Rock and Pop, as the infant was violently kicking the mother. The most positive results were achieved with Vivaldi and subsequent research showed that even the skin of a newborn gets smoother when they listen to Vivaldi. Other tests showed that children get smarter when listening to Baroque string music, and learn faster!
The smart of children brought up with good music is very manual, very tactile. They can become excellent technicians for they have a memory in their hands, and can become are excellent pianists. Arthur Rubinstein was one of them, Walter Gieseking another. When they were asked, for example sitting in a train, how they would play a certain tune on the piano, they would put their hand on their legs and play the tune, then saying:
—Oh you see, I play it with this fingering …
In their intellectual mind, they did not know how they would play it, but their hands knew it. Eskimos have the greatest tactile contact and while they don’t have a musical tradition such as ours, the mothers sing to their infants, even to the ones still in utero. This singing to the baby is the music they hear. In addition, Eskimos have an excellent tactile relation with their babies.
Most native cultures have this innate contact with music and art. They do not consider this relationship as a result of knowledge, but the aliveness of their soul. It actually betrays a narcissistic attitude to rationalize this away by saying that an affinity to music could be created by knowledge about musical structure, composition or score reading. That’s about as saying that the ability for driving a car depends on knowledge about how the motor of a car works.
Unfortunately, this innate knowledge has been tempered with in our process of industrialization, while in fact, no knowledge is needed to be touched by music—or by visual art at that. Because music and art touches not our intellect, but our soul.
I have given the example of the book-reading mother for a reason. There is really a direct link between the loss of innate knowledge about how to raise one’s child and the loss of innate knowledge about music. Both are losses typical for a culture that is none because it has lost its soul! From a natural point of view, it is as normal for a mother to know how to handle her baby as it is for people being touched by the magic of great music.