Thursday, 09 July 2009

From Concrete to Abstract

A while ago I blogged about poetry and how understanding the concrete concepts expressed in a poem is one of the first steps in appreciating the abstract aspects of that poem, at least for me. I think that principle can actually be applied to most art forms.

Today I went to the Burning Bridges violin recital. I think music is necessarily fairly abstract - particularly instrumental music. Most of the music I couldn't immediately appreciate abstractly, although that's likely because I'm rather inexpert.

What I could do, though, was to concrete-ise the music. Since I was very small, I've listened to music by imagining the visuals that might accompany it and, increasingly as I've grown older, the story that it tells. I doubt that the story I imagine is always or even often what the composer had in mind, but it gives me a starting point from which to enjoy the music.

Even when I've lost track of my story, I'm caught up in the music. I think this is even easier in a live performance, because the performers themselves are telling a story; providing a concrete connection to the music.

I don't think I'm demeaning the music by bringing it to a level that I can began to understand, if I'm not changing the music itself. I think, in fact, that I elevate what the music is for me, since by looking at it differently I can appreciate it in some way and begin to appreciate it truly abstractly. I also think that even if I'm listening to it the wrong way now, but I keep listening, I'll eventually learn to listen to it the right way. So it's better to listen wrong than not to listen at all.


  1. You get in whatever way you can and go and grow from there. Very cool.

  2. I agree, better to listen wrong than not at all. And who is to say it's wrong anyway?

  3. Thanks, Sandy.

    Mom, I guess you're right that there can't be a defined 'right way'. Thank you.