Philippe playing at "National Night Out"

Facts Of Music® Productions in action…

IMPORTANT: If you did not read the last post, “Spring Has Sprung Forth,” please go back and read it first — it’s an important precursor to this article.

I’m very pleased to share concepts that will revolutionize the way your mind and ears process sound…in particular: all (any/every kind of) music…in “3-D.” Here are the basics of how:

Last time, I started to present how we hear things — and music (i.e. voices, noises in the street, TV, movies, etc.), generally. The purpose for these posts is that you may learn to hear and understand (particularly music) more thoroughly. I posited the idea that we hear music only to the extent we can process it — i.e. from a superficial perspective initially (this being a “Fact Of Music” that we hear sound as a “wall” — see last post).

At first, we hear music (and all sounds, in real time) as a kind of “monophonic” wall coming at us. Let’s now continue…with specifics

Think about it this way: When you hear a language you do not understand — you hear the sounds, but their meaning is not understood by you. The meaning is not comprehended, and yet you may even think or say it sounds nice or “beautiful” (to you…though your friend thinks it “stinks” — and your friend doesn’t understand that language or know what is going on either!!!). For this reason and on this basis, people may initially say that musical taste is very subjective. I DISAGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY (at least on one level). I can say this objectively because some aspects of music are very quantifiable as to their EFFECT.  Also, this is true with regard to the way music can be used AFFECTIVELY (i.e. to make everyone feel a particular way/feeling — let’s say the composer has to make it sound “scary,” or” beautiful” in a particular spot in a movie). Music does this — and CAN be used/crafted to affect us in exactly such ways. All musicians/composers learn to do this.

Now, you may hear a piece of music and think it’s great, but you may really not know much about it (if anything) — unless you are a “trained professional.” You don’t necessarily know what “KEY” it’s in (and whether or not it modulates, what kind of key or scale), what notes are being played, what and how many instruments and voices (singers) there are, any audio effects and processing that went into it…NONE OF THIS…or maybe you ARE able to “catch some of this!” If so, GREAT! This is what I’m talking about and where I am going with respect to, and in the direction of “3-D MUSIC.”

“3-D MUSIC” is not a “kind” of music, but rather, “a way of hearing and understanding what (ALL THAT) you hear!”

I wrote just a bit about the “Mozart Phenomenon” last time (not to be confused with what a few years ago was being tossed around — “The Mozart Effect” — that children would “get smarter” by having Mozart and other classical music played for them in the background!!!). I want to point out now that most people are hearing music in a way that is VERY INCOMPLETE. I call it the “music in black & white” way of hearing, in contrast to “hearing music in color.” WHAT DO I MEAN?

I promised last time that I would elaborate on “hearing in a polyphonic way.” You have probably noticed I’m using some technical vocabulary, and may even notice it’s been of Greek origin. The ancient Greeks had a lot to do with “coining” these terms during their “Golden Era” (about the 5th century B.C., or B.C.E, if you prefer)…

We have all seen video and/or movies that were NOT in color. This means that if we see red shoes (i.e. Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz”), they would NOT be RED — they would be a kind of “grayish.” Even in the early days of computer monitor screens, this was referred to as “monochromatic” (one color, from the Greek compound — the adjective “monos,” meaning “ONE,” and the noun “Chromatika” — meaning “COLOR.” So, we are NOT seeing the real color (i.e. all the colors, or, “the whole thing,” the way it really is). This is what happens with music as well. We are “HEARING MUSIC IN BLACK & WHITE!”

How do we remedy this? First of all, someone has to introduce us to, and “name” the colors. Music even uses the word, “Chromatic” in naming the musical alphabet (all the notes — there are only twelve), as in the “Chromatic scale.” Allow me to explain this, because the use of the word “chromatic” in music is a mixed-metaphor. We don’t really “hear colors,” do we? We see colors with our eyes. But in what good way can we describe “hearing?” We have a problem here in trying to describe the sounds in an adequate way. Fortunately, the Greeks had the problem first, and solved it for us before we got to it!

They decided to “borrow” the idea and term for color, and kind of use this idea to represent the different sounds. There are only 12 different sounds (and their repetition in octaves): A through G, and the accidentals (our black keys on the piano). This is why we say that the noun “chromatic” is used as a “mixed-metaphor” in music. Think of it in the same way for boats and ships — they “navigate” (from the Latin, “nave” — pronounced, “NAH-VAY” — which means “boat”)…now you “get” where we get our word, “Navy!” Well, why do we say that airplanes, space shuttles and jets “navigate” also? That’s a “mixed-metaphorical use” — shouldn’t they “aerogate,” instead? I guess that’s another story! Back to “3-D MUSIC.”

Actually, there is so much more to cover about “3-D MUSIC,” I’m going to have to do it on the next post. Let’s cover at least the next important aspect: BREAKDOWN OF PARTS/ASPECTS. This gets back to Mozart.

When Wolfgang was a very young child, his musician father started him on violin, and then piano (more significant and important information about these two instruments next time — they are “harmonic” and not “melodic” instruments…hmmm, what does this mean/do?). By the time he was 6, he was performing on tour across Europe — playing for heads of state (and anyone else who would have the privilege of a concert ticket!). What did he learn in his infantile and toddler years? His father taught him basic rudiments, but you can bank on the fact that little Wolfgang was hearing the parts individually (from the whole). He was born with a great gift (the talent) to naturally hear “parts.” 3-D MUSIC is the idea of hearing music this way — parts as whole, and the parts in the whole. He probably didn’t think of it that way, but that is exactly what he was doing! That’s what I do, that’s what my friend Nick Vincent (who also has “Mozartian Perfect Pitch” — named in Wolgang’s honor, and based on his virtuosity in his day!!!), and this is what I am asserting you will want to learn to be able to do, and MUST do (well…at least you should WANT TO be able to do so…).

Let us continue this article next time. The next one will elaborate on parts and tracks…how can we learn to hear all these things individually — and all at once? How do we use our technology to help us with this advance?

I hope you will enjoy these “Facts Of Music” as much as I do. They have made my musical life much richer and more exciting/fascinating. It is a wonder and pleasure to be able to pass these nuggets of wisdom and musical wealth on to you! Keep growing with music, and you will be the richer and happier for it. MUSIC IS A GOOD THING. Use and enjoy it in the right way(s) — it’s a great tool and friend!!!

Musically yours,

Philippe :-)