An Excerpt Not From Me

This is a section from a short story I read recently. I think it carries a lot of meaning. About music, mostly. I can see the author’s views in this writing. (I know the author personally. I just saw him today.) It’s set as a conversation between two musicians, Spire and Nova. As his name implies, Nova is the new guy. Enjoy.

“The common ground the music shares is the elements of music itself: the composition; the actual construction and architecture of the notes. You hear all of these songs on the radio about individuality and anti-conformity and anti-establishment, yet the music itself is so traditional and typical—it’s just the opposite.”

“So what are you saying?”, Nova asked.

Spire answered, “I’m saying that the lyrics, or the story, or the lack of a programmed story are most commonly reflective of the music first, and the music speaks for itself.”

“Well, what determines what the music says?” asked Nova.

“Ah ha,” Spire enthusiastically interjected, “now you’re asking the right questions: is it the composer? The performer? The listener? They have a lot to do with it, but it probably has more to do with what has been spoken through the composer and the performer than the individuals themselves.”

Nova responded, “So a composer who has good morals…”

“No,” Spire quickly interrupted, “you’re not listening. Throughout time, some of the most honorable men have done some horrible things. Do those things nullify their good work? Suppose that you listen to a piece of music and are moved to tears. Suppose you also feel a sense of purpose in living that you’ve never been aware of. Suppose it changes the way you view your life. Suppose you find out, later, that the man who wrote the music was suicidal and that the performers were contracted musicians who took the money that they were paid and used it to support their bad habits. What then? Does it change your experience? Did it make your tears any less real?”

“So, it’s the listener who has to explain it,” Nova said.

“Explain it?” replied Spire. “If we could put art into words, we wouldn’t need art. The art expresses the things that can’t be put into any language. Do you understand? The listener interprets it for himself. Everything else is a guideline for the interpreter within the context of life as he knows it. You’re going to have to accept that there’s a lot of gray area.”

Oh, and today’s song of the week is the theme from Lord of the Rings. Listen for the 5/4 measures in the Isengard theme.

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