As I hinted, music has the advantage of not becoming entangled in philosophical, critical discussions, on coherence or not of religious doctrines; a piece of music can drag us to spirituality with greater power than an entire system of thought. This allows music to be an instrument of transversal spirituality, that is, an exchange of sensitivities also through spirituality and religions that instead, with regard to doctrines and philosophies, would easily fall into debates and controversies: even an atheist can appreciate without difficulty a Mozart Mass or a Muslim chant, as well as a believer of any religion can be in tune with a skeptic about, for example, the passion for blues or jazz.
So far, however, we are only taking note of what music itself is capable of being. For those who want to follow a path of growth in spirituality with commitment, music is more than itself, it is something else, because it is compared with the meaning to give to one’s life. It is possible to highlight a difference between those who listen to or play a piece just out of passion for music and those who do it within a spiritual walk. In the second case, the listening or interpretation experience of that passage is lived as part of a consciously designed path of spiritual growth. In fact, although everything can be spirituality, in this section I intend to highlight the spirituality lived as conscious planning, also made at a table with pen and paper, in addition to also having its spaces of spontaneity.
As a consequence of this vision, the possibility of planning musical growth itineraries opens up for the walker in spirit. The aim will not be to become musicians, although it is not excluded, but, within a horizon specifically dedicated to spirituality, it will rather be to grow in the best of what humanity has been able to create and an essential component of this best is certainly music.
Going more concretely, this means that those who want to follow a path of spiritual growth will do well to sit down at the table, take a pen and paper and plan their own musical listening. The criteria for this project could be many: even the school tries to give us musical training; one criterion that I recommend is to try to identify the best of world music and try to know it. There are lists of the best masterpieces in the world, I’ve tried to draw one up myself by combining different criteria and using different sources; they are certainly questionable lists, but they have a validity for the effort they represent: they are an invitation to walk the paths of musical listening, rather than wasting our life’s time in passive listening that does not train us, does not give us growth.
I believe we would live in a better world if a well cultivated musical culture, made also of music criticism, but above all of enjoyment of music lived as the management of a desire to grow through the best of it that humanity has been able to create; self-education to listening, specifically by listening to a microuniverse that gives us experience of infinity.
Hello, everyone. This video is referred to the lesson “Spirituality of music”, where I explained some powerful aspects of music as a spiritual experience. Now I will explain some more details, some other particular aspects of the spiritual experience of music.
So, let’s consider that, as we go on with our passion of music, obviously not just the passion of passing the time in listening to commercial, industrial music, but a passion that becomes a research, cultivation of something, with some kind of plan, some kind that we choose to cultivate, not just receiving passively what the world, what the industry gives us. So, while we cultivate this passion, obviously we become more sensitive to the details of the experience of music, the details of the sound, the style of the composer or of the artist, so that we notice more and more things, more and more small things that actually are just apparently small, because actually they are open as a completely new universe that can be explored. So, all of this can be called like passion for music. We realize at this point that, since passion becomes bigger and bigger, we want to be closer and closer to the experience of music, so it can happen, for example, that, in listening to music, we want high fidelity, high quality of music. This means the evolution of technology about amplifiers, speakers, supports for music, but then we can quickly realize that there is some point that is beyond the quality of the medium, the electronic medium of music. What I want to mean is that we can even have systems, Hi-Fi systems that maybe they are worth millions of dollars or pounds or whatever it is, to obtain the maximum of fidelity, the best sound, but then we can realize that even with this or, after having spent a lot of money in these electronic systems, we can think “But with all of this money I can go many times, so many times directly to the concerts, so that there won’t be between me and the players something electronic, but it will be direct”. That is really the maximum fidelity of the sound.
Anyway, in both cases, that is, either by listening music through high level systems, like an audiophile or by going to concerts, we start, as I said, being more and more passionate about the details, the style, the personality. So we understand, then, that we start noticing more and more also the defects, the flaws of music. They can be the flaws first of all of the player, because, we know, a music player needs to be very good in order to express, not to make errors in the execution of the piece of music, but then we can go beyond this, because there can be also flaws and difficulties with the instruments, the musical instruments, that were used. We know there are a lot of varieties of violins, so there are low quality violins and there are violins like the Stradivari, that are worth millions and millions of dollars, pounds, euros, whatever it is. We gained the pleasure of exercising the critical sense, the critique either the style, the way how that music was played, the quality of the instrument, or even flaws that might be in the composer. We can say “Oh, I think the composer might have arranged these notes, these instruments in a different way”.
So we realize, we can say in one word, the limits of music, that is, music is not paradise, music is, we can say, an ongoing walk, an ongoing research. So, when I go to a concert, I can consider that what I’m seeing is an artist that is taking on, bringing forward his research. While he is playing his concert, in that very moment, he is already bringing on his research, he is studying, he is researching, in the moment while he is playing in front of me. So, this is music: being present to a phenomenon that is ongoing and I go on, I grow up together with the music, the player, the composer, the whole of the environment that makes music.
This means that, when I go to a concert or I listen to a piece of music, maybe even from a CD or recorded in the computer, or in the smartphone, what shall I look for essentially? Because we might be lost among, in the middle of this universe of music.
I think is useful to consider two things.
One of the most important things to look for when we go to the experience, the spiritual experience of music, is the communication of humanity. Both the player, the composer or even the luthier, that means the maker of the instruments, they are all communicating to me their humanity, their culture, their sensitivity. So, when music flows towards me, when the sounds come towards me, I’m actually receiving the humanity of some people. This is the most important essence of the experience of music.
The second thing that we can consider is that I can continuously compare the spiritual experience of music, either listening or we can even say either playing or singing, I’m comparing this with the whole of my spiritual experience, that is, I’m a living person, I have a life, my spiritual experience is the whole of my life, so I can compare those sounds, that piece of music, that concert, with the rest of my life, the other moments when I am at work, when I wonder what’s the meaning of my life, what are my plans, what do I want to do in my future. This can be compared with the song that I’m either playing or singing or listening to.
This way it becomes evident, it becomes obvious the difference from music made mostly by the industry and by using computers, that is, today industry is able to produce music that is strongly engaging, it’s made for this, to conquer the attention of especially young people. But now we can realize that music made mostly by computer and industry it essentially lacks the communication of humanity. I mean, humanity is present everywhere, even in industry, but there is a difference between humanity that tries to be connected with the most important things of life and a kind of humanity that actually what is looking for is just to sell something to make money.
At the end of this reflection I would suggest an exercise that can be done.
Simple: you can use Youtube as an instrument for this exercise. Look for a music, a simple music, any music you are familiar with, even just a folk song. You can look for other people who interpreted the same song, their personal way, other artists or even common people who are not artists, but they had the pleasure to make a so-called a “cover” of a song, their interpretation. This makes us discover how a melody can be so, in such different ways interpreted, played, perceived. This helps to make us discover music, so that we will be sensitive to the essence of music, rather than to the appearance of electronic effects or a lot of echo and reverber that makes some sound so fascinating, but actually they lack the essence, humanity, and vice-versa, we can gain the sensitivity to ancient recordings, that actually are full of disturbing noises, because of the cracking of the disc player or the tape player, but actually we perceive that there is still a lot of humanity coming from that old recording, able to reach us now in the present.
So, these are some considerations to help us to make music as a spiritual experience, able to meet the whole of our life. So I hope that it will help you to enlarge, to expand, to enrich our experience of music, of spirituality and spirituality of music. See you next time.