John Turnbull wrote:
> 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
> play louder?
Well, I don't think that the notes enter into that; by then, the notes and
finger motions become close to automatic. There are some verbal thoughts
of the "Oh no! I can't believe I missed that note!" variety - but in order
to play well, one has to feel the emotion that one is playing, and let the
music flow through one's mind. I can't explain the kind of thinking
involved - but it is definitely thinking, and definitely wordless. (and
not on the note level).
> 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.
Hmm. There's some of that - but I do that in verbal thinking too. But,
when I have an improvising task such as, for example, "Start out with the
Russian national anthem in the key of C and get to the American national
anthem in the key of B flat in a reasonable amount of time, managing to
put in an Irish drinking song and some Bach along the way", quite a lot of
conscious thought is involved, and none of it is verbal.
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