An Argument for Knowledge in Art

Music, other art, literature – all things that bring a degree of joy/enjoyment, refreshment, inspiration, clarity, etc. – these gifts are valid and potentially powerful when taken in casually or with no real preparation. If the audience member has at least a sense of what is about to take place, they can expect a deeper, more engaging, and longer-lasting experience.

As I have often said to my students, when we understand essentially how a process works, we’re more likely to let it happen (to some degree, even the intricate physio-acoustical processes that enable good singing). This realization helps singers to engage vocal and performance techniques more easily and powefully; they are less likely to manipulate the voice, to inhibit artistic expression or truth. As I’m fond of saying, the imagination does its work to unite various tasks into a singular performance – no pushing buttons or flipping levers.

It strikes me today that music which is immediately attractive or enjoyable can be even more deeply powerful – to some degree, life-changing – if the listener has the slightest bit of knowledge about style, historical context, composer, poet, even the performers. A general overview from a Music Appreciation class or found in effective program notes can be so valuable. The simple opening of the mind before listening can open the heart even more powefully for greater enjoyment as the music is taken in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s