music, a dreaming animal

Music is something you cannot write or speak about.

We have problems with this fact because music seems to be a foreign language for us. It tires us. Why should we sit in a concert hall and listen to sounds we do not understand?

But maybe the sounds do not want to have meanings, maybe they just want to be what they are: sounds. They do not force us to listen to them, they do not ask to be pressed on a compact disc and be sold, they know nothing from our world. In their naivety they do not even care if they are used for destructive aims or not. What is true about the indifferent sun and the indifferent (“For the Father makes his sun shine on bad and good people alike and gives rain to those who do right and those who do wrong.”) is also true about the sounds. Music is a dreaming animal, and it is an error when we think that we know anything about it.

Music just seems to be language (it is not), because people write music or perform music with instruments or voices. Of course the techniques of composition could be compared with constructing of syntactic sentences, but what about the meaning? The syntactic construction mostly is mistaken for the meaning, but the syntactic construction says nothing and means nothing. We expect performers to be good translators, but the sounds emerging from their mouths and hands and their whole bodies interacting with the environment – that becomes an autonomous living animal we call music. The meaning inherent in music proves to be untranslatable, the very matter of music is “untranslatableness”.

Sometimes we think that we have learned that secret and foreign language. We listen and are moved or shocked or soothed. Only it is not music which produces such effects. The meaning we understand is not the meaning inherent in music but a meaning which is an event happening in a moment between music and us. It is as if our attempt to understand anything creates the meaning which then covers the music and its no-meaning like a skin or a crust.

Individual’s minds touching and reading their skins or crusts like braille.
Reading aloud: but never the same words.
Very true: music, a dreaming animal, alone with itself.

Yotin Tiewtrakul, August 1995

Ich schrieb das vor siebzehn Jahren auf. Da war ich zwanzig. Weiss nicht mehr, warum das auf Englisch verfasst ist. Ich glaube, ich finde das immer noch so, was ich da gesagt habe.

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