Thinking without language?
john at turnbull.org
Tue Nov 23 23:37:56 EST 1999
In article <81f0om$esa$4 at nntp.Stanford.EDU>,
Larisa Migachyov <lvm at leland.Stanford.EDU> wrote:
>John Turnbull wrote:
>> No, but I don't consider humming a familiar melody to be thinking. I am
>> likely to think verbally of the name of the tune though.
>What about performing a musical work? Especially when playing in an
>ensemble without a conductor (quartet, quintet, whatever) - there is quite
>a lot of mental activity involved. For me at least, most of the mental
>activity is not verbal - it is musical. I am, for example, likely to
>think about how the notes I play fit in with the notes that everyone else
>is playing, or about how I need to play a little louder to bring out the
>melody, etc. - mostly, without words.
>And if you still say that performing a memorized work requires no thought
>- a contention that I will violently disagree with - what about
>improvising? You would have to say that improvisation involves some kind
>of thinking. And yet, even when I'm improvising together with some
>people, I don't think verbally.
As I mentioned in another recent post maybe I've been too restrictive in
my thoughts on thinking, equating it too much with reasoning. I am
certainly not saying performing music doesn't require skill. Not being
a musician I can't comment on the thought processes involved. A couple
of questions though:
Would any kind of detailed thinking be a distraction to performing
well? Are the thoughts more on a macro scale, and not on the micro
scale of which notes do I play, how do I play them, how would I
When improvising, do you ever surprise yourself? The closest I've
come recently is sparring in the martial arts. When I spar best
I've tagged my partner before I realize what I'm going to do. That
to me indicates activity below the level of conscious thought.
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