The music that is performed, and the music our brains are experiencing


Since I started listening to the music of Wandelweiser composers intensively in the last year, I realized that I have been experiencing some interesting changes in my way of listening to music. Since I started to listen to music actively rather than passively, I came to think that it could be possible for a listener to experience the music in a complex context that consists of not only the performer's sounds, but also the other factors as well (e.g., the sounds remained in my memory, the environmental sounds). Just to avoid any confusion, I would like to emphasize that this is just my personal perspective (and interest) about the way of listening to music I found recently, and not something I suggest as a way of listening to music in general.

I wonder if the music which our brains experience may consist of many different factors that we are not aware of - like the environmental sounds we could hear from outside of the window, the memory of the sounds we just heard a little while ago, or some other sounds that we could expect to happen, besides the actual performer's sounds. We may not pay so much attention to these factors outside the music usually. But sometimes, I realize that one single tone performed by a musician and my memory of some other sound (most likely a sound I heard a little while ago) seem to resonate and form a harmony during a concert or listening to a CD, and occasionally, some more environmental sounds joined the harmony to form an even more complex music. Or on some other occasion when I am not listening to any music, if I hear some environmental sounds (e.g., muffled noise of a car passing by from a distance) and if I recognize a similar wavelength in the sounds to the music I was just listening to a few hours ago, the environmental sounds I am hearing now may resonate with the sounds from the music in my memory and crossover in my brain, then I may experience a false illusion as if I were listening to the same music.

For example, a few hours after I finished listening to Jürg Frey's 320 minutes long piece 'Weites Land, Tiefe Zeit' the other day, I heard a quiet, low muffled sound of a car passing by somewhere far in the middle of the quiet night. It was a similar tone to the low frequencies of the Jürg Frey piece. Meanwhile, the Frey piece I had been listening to for 320 minutes had perhaps subconsciously taken deep root in my memory, too. And in the moment when my memory of the music and the wavelength of the sounds of a car overlapped, the sounds of a car changed to music in my brain. The actual sound was just coming from somewhere far as environmental sounds, but my brain experienced it as music. Meanwhile, there might have been a car sound outside my room when I was listening to the Frey piece (even if I was not aware), and my memory of the car sound might have been imprinted in my subconscious mind with the music as a part of the musical experience, which might be one of the reasons why this chemical reaction (between the car sounds and the music) happened instantly. These phenomena happened when the actual sounds and the imaginary sounds in my memory overlapped and resonated as one.

If the act of listening to (experiencing) music can contain these complex factors, I think that it should be possible to listen to sounds or music even within a silence. The sound I may hear in the silence could be a memory of the sound I just heard, or a memory of the sound that is evoked from the wavelength or the tone of some similar environmental sound. In a normal situation of listening to music, a listener is required to listen to only the performed sounds as precisely as possible, and is not supposed to listen to other sounds (as false illusion) besides the performance. Of course there are some other factors that may affect the listener’s experience of the music in such a normal situation, like his/her memory of some other music or some sounds he/she has heard in the past may affect the way he/she listens now. But in a normal situation, those factors are rather incidental factors for a listener, which were not expected to be a part of the music from the beginning when it was composed. However, if the music is composed and performed with a consideration for the listener’s opportunity to have an open space for experiencing the music, the music could consist of not only the actual performed sounds but also the other sound factors that the listener may listen with the help of his memory or imagination in his brain or the environmental sounds, and then, the potential of the music that human beings can experience seems to be unlimited.

Music could be born from this mysterious reaction between the actual sounds that the composer and the performer are presenting, and the imaginary sounds that the listener is (actively or subconsciously) listening to in his/her brain. In this way of listening, it can be said that the listener is also a part of the creator of the music in a way, as well as the composer and the performer. I think that some Wandelweiser composers can create this situation, giving an open space for a listener so he/she can experience the music actively and freely. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I feel I can see a new potential of listening to the music in some of their compositions.

■ 演奏される音楽、脳が聴いている音楽



たとえば、ユルク・フレイの「Weites Land, Tiefe Zeit」を聴き終えてから数時間後、しんとした夜中に遠くで車が通りすぎる時に聴こえるくぐもった静かな低音は、フレイの音楽の低周波の波長とどこか似ている。320分間聴き続けたフレイの音楽は、無意識のうちに記憶の中に深く根を下ろしている。その記憶が車の音の波長と重なった瞬間、車の音は音楽へと変わる。実際に聴こえている音は、ただの車の音なのに、自分の脳はそれを音楽として体験しているのだ。フレイの音楽を聴いていた時に同時に聴こえていた環境音(車の音もそこに含まれていたかもしれない)も、その時の音楽体験の一部として、もしかしたら意識せずとも記憶に刷り込まれていたのかもしれない。そしてそれも、この連鎖反応(車の音と音楽の結びつき)を起きやすくした要因の一つなのかもしれない。すべては脳の中で、記憶の音と実際の音がオーバーラップすることによって起きている現象だ。