The Wisdom Model

The experience of music is not just sonic, it is also engages the intellect at a deep level (even if the intellectual activity is vague and barely felt). Every musical experience involves profound ideas about emotion, meaning,¬†greatness, humanity, the mind, individuality, the universe, … The Wisdom model acknowledges the fundamental “grand ideas” that seem to be continually in the background of musical experience.

The Wisdom Model has 3 parts:
A. The Great Questions of Music
B. The Big Ideas in Music
C. Quotations from Top Musicians and Artists

An interesting factor in the above is that although music seems to (always?) simulate a certain amount of intellectual response in the listener, it is not usually a strong response.

A. The Great Questions of Music

One part of the Wisdom model is a series of what I call “The Great Questions of Music”. These are profound, time-honored questions which seem to be always in the background of musical experience. Some of the Great Questions:

  • What is music?
  • Does music convey meaning?
  • Does music convey or express emotion? Is musical emotion its own kind of emotion (different from emotion in everyday life)?
  • Is music a language?
  • What constitutes greatness or excellence in music?
  • What is beauty in music?
  • When two people hear the same music, is there anything in common with how they experience it, or is each person’s experience totally unique?
  • Can music be described in words?
  • Is music culture-independent?
  • Why is music deeply significant to human beings?
  • Why does music as a group-experience seem to be special and significant?

B. The Big Ideas in Music

Another part of the Wisdom model are “The Big Ideas”. Many of these come from musical tradition, a few have emerged as OMSModel has been developed. Not all Big Ideas are definitively true, but they all are profound, compelling, and at minimum plausible. Some examples:

  • Musical experiences can never be accurately described in words, because musical experiences are more detailed and specific than language. (Mendelssohn)
  • Musical experience is an “organized delirium”. (Pierre Boulez)
  • Musical experiences are somewhat like a primitive form of a mother’s love.
  • Musical experience is highly intimate and individualized.
  • “Music is the healing force of the universe” (Albert Ayler) or similar ideas about music and the universe.
  • Every musical experience involves “wonder”.
  • Even the simplest musical experiences are usually highly stimulative and pleasurable, almost no exceptions.
  • Group experiences of music are very different from individual experiences.
  • All music stimulates the intellect at a deep level (although the intellectual activity may be vague and barely felt)

C. Quotations from Top Musicians (and other artists)

A final part of the Wisdom model is a collection of quotations from top musicians. These quotations are significant information not because musicians are always great intellects (they are not always), but because they are deeply connected and sensitized about the musical environment. The statements from top musicians/artists – even when they are poorly articulated or even inaccurate – are an essential part of ¬†“wisdom” about music.