I've been contemplating the majesty of music lately. I had a realization that I believe is worth sharing.
The value of a piece of music is comprised of 50% musician, 50% listener. There are pieces of music that have endured throughout the centuries, often because there seems to be something intrinsically amazing about the compositions and performances, regardless of any criticism or opinion that says otherwise. There may be truth in that supposition, but without the favorable perception and reaction of listeners, such cherished music would not be carefully preserved and miraculously resurrected time and time again.
This is a very common-sense insight, and easily confirmed through average experience. For instance, if I was in a bad mood, or hungover during my days of drinking, and I listened to a masterpiece like Beethoven's 9th Symphony, I wouldn't be able to appreciate the refined quality of the music, because my sensory perception would be skewed by the damage I had incurred upon my receptors, and the garbage that had accrued in my channels. So even something that is apparently beautiful in its own right, can only be truly beautiful when it is properly absorbed by the audience. That's why they say: Beauty is in the eye (ear) of the beholder.
In that sense, listening can be just as active as composing or playing an instrument. Listeners must contribute attentiveness, imagination, and active surrender to the process, so that the song can be met with an amount of energy equal to what was put into the song's creation.
The more ecstatically awake I am, the more the notes come alive. The cultivation of inner sensuality results in a deepening of the melodic adventure, which surpasses lower states of consciousness previously experienced. This elevation and absorption is only possible due to a competitive race and playful dance with the composer—in which seduced and eager ears try to merge with the source of the sounds that tantalize them.
The best listeners are also players. Musicians most likely hear music in a fashion that is superior to non-musicians, just as architects look at buildings in a fashion that is superior to non-architects. Of course, architects can greatly enjoy music, just as musicians can greatly enjoy architecture, but there is something to be said about the intimacy and familiarity that comes within the boundaries of a guild, profession, or craft.
I love putting my entire body into the act of listening. I love dancing, howling, spasmodically twitching, and making mannerisms with all my limbs and organs. I love feeling the rhythm, vibration, harmony, echoes, emotion, intellect, texture, and other elements that resound within the corridors of my consciousness. And I love reaping the rewards of having purified and opened those corridors of consciousness.
Actually, the body can be completely still, as the mind reels and raves in delight. That, too, is active listening.
If I crave anything, it is inner space, and music needs space to travel across, so I abide by the music's demands—willingly, obediently, dynamically.
Let us become savagely addicted to space, so that we can infuse space with fragments of composed and improvised time.
I'll end this rant of self-inquiry with some lyrics from "Music of the Night" by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart:
"Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in You alone can make my song take flight The higher power is in us.
You alone can make my song take flight The higher power is in us.
The higher power is in us.