Friday, 12 December 2008

Where is the music?

If I hear a piece of music that I know but haven't heard for years, it can seem both new and familiar at the same time — some parts I recognise and some I don't. Where in this process is the music? It cannot be entirely external to me ('on the radio') since part of my experience of hearing it is determined by what I recover from memory, which presumably is internal to me (including the thoughts I associate with the music, which are not in the music itself)? Yet it cannot be entirely internal to me ('in my head') as there are sections I seem to have no memory recall for. These seem to be delivered 'fresh in' from the world — I hear but don't recognise.

The question of where the music is is not entirely clear, or more precisely the question of where my experience of the music originates is not clear. The common-sense answer that the music is playing outside of me but I experience it inside of me doesn't suffice since it makes just as much common sense to say the playing and the experience, to me at least, are one in the same. For there's no experience without the playing, and the playing is nothing without the experience.