Thursday, 5 November 2009

After the seminar...

Walking home tonight , I got to thinking about what Alex had said during the seminar about how a foreign language can appear like a beautiful piece of music...because one cannot understand the individual words, the sound we hear becomes an entity in its own right. Once one starts to understand individual words, that specialness is lost.
Likewise, a piece of music sounds beautiful to us when we listen to it as a whole thing - individually, separated from each other, the notes and sounds mean nothing...

In other words, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" - Gestalt theory!


  1. Once, I went to see a production of The Carmelites at the ENO; now, I like a bit of opera, but only when I don't understand what the characters are singing about, but the ENO sing in English (obviously) and there was this really dramatic moment when one of the nuns jumped up onto a chair, and, as the orchestra reached a crescendo, sang the following line 'Oh no - my stew is burning'... Listening to opera in Italian etc. means, for me at least, that I hear music, not lyrics...

  2. Actually can't comment on this again . . . just typed l o n g comment and it all disappeared!@£$% Will try again . . another time - brief synopsis - It was a great analogy . . music and words . . . apparently, according to somebody called Albert Mehrabian, only a small portion of what is said is communicated through words and that music and dance make up the rest of our understanding of what is being said to us (something I learnt when doing a work related "presentations skills course" early 90's) . . or something along those lines . . I love words and language and really enjoy speaking in foreign languages - different languages have different melodies, rhythms and cadences . . . but I also enjoy listening to people speaking in a language even when I don't understand . . strange woman! When I was little my friend and I used to practice speaking 'fluent french' . . . (we were seven . . ) we used all the sounds and intonations that we heard on the recordings in class and were really quite good - except that not a real word was ever spoken!!! This was all before computer games and dvd's etc!!!!