Monday, February 6, 2017

Thoughtful Monday: 12 hours without music

This post is not about horn ensemble but I find it very interesting and I would like to share with you.

Psychology of Music is an online course offer by School of Music and College of Education at University of Iowa. The reasons I found this course interesting are 1) it is an online course which I have never experienced before, and 2) I like the course name! So I registered this for my Spring 2017 semester.

All the questions and discussions online have been very interesting but the latest and the most interesting so far that I would like to share is to "Live without any music in our environment for 12 waking hours." and to Keep a brief journal of our experiences during these 12 hours, noting actions that you have to take to avoid having any music in your environment. If it can't be done, note the experiences in your journal.  

Many people in the class find this experience remind them how much they appreciate music and find it unavoidable. But I find that it is up to us who choose whether or not to listen to our surrounding. 

Anyway, below is my journal and my thought of the experience.

My first reaction to this assignment is I need to have plan ahead. I planned to stay away from music related "activities" such as intentionally listening to music, watching VDO, or practice. The original plan was to do this assignment on January, 29 from 13:30 to 1:30 since I wanted to spend my morning time for practicing and I usually sleep late anyway. But since I woke up at 8:30 and realize that my lip was swollen from ulcer (could not practice), I decided to start the 12 hours from then instead. 
I spent my morning making brunch, making food for my coming week, and talking to my girlfriend in Thailand about an orchestral memorial concert to the late King Rama IX. That was when I had some questions.
I was wondering if talking about music related include the word "music" itself count against the task? If I read some book that has composer or composition name in it (such as a novel by Haruki Murakami for example), would I be allowed? If those count as part of music environment, can we even escape music at all? But I did not have it answered.
After that I went for swimming. When I took shower after swimming, music of Nielsen came to my head instantly. Even I tried to avoid, it kept coming back. So I decided to use meditation technique to clear it out. The technique is to "be at the moment" meaning knowing and focusing on what I am doing at the exact moment such as when I walk, I know which foot is moving (it is not as easy as it sounds!). Of course the music disappeared. From that moment on I decide to use this technique for the rest of the hours. The point for using the technique is not for finding any special technique to make this experiment successful, I only use this technique just to see how my experience would be and it is a good way to train my focus as well. The rest of the day went fine without having any music in my environment. Even there might be some, I did not notice it. However, when I was on my way home on my friend's car, the radio was playing the music that I know so I reacted spontaneously to the music by humming along. That was when I realized that the music was on and I was in the music environment. After that I was busy with other stuff until I completed my 12 hours task.
How does this activity affected me? 
Even though I rarely listen to any music (I don't mind silence) except from practicing, rehearsing or going to a concert, planning in advance still needed to be done in order to complete the goal. However, I didn't have any uncomfortable feeling since I knew my day was planned and I knew what I would be doing.
What do I learned from this?
I think one can be in an environment full of music activities but might not realize that they are in it at all if they did not set their mind (intentionally) for it. Also, I am sure many of us might have this experience when our concentration was on one thing, we tend not to realize the surrounding. This was why the meditation technique as well as knowing each of my step help avoiding music. However, if the concentration was lacking, our body spontaneously reacted to the music without us realizing anyway. This prove that human system is installed with a system that response to music. Lastly, it is still all about each person perception. If to avoid having any music in our environment means music related activities, we could still read book about music, we could still watch video without sound or even with sound but decide to ignore it. However, if avoiding music mean everything include the word music itself as well as word that implied music, I don't think we can avoid it at all.

What are your thought?

1 comment:

  1. I did this experiment when I took the course in 2016. I became more attuned to the sounds of the outside world. I heard everything, and the sound ended up becoming a musical composition through perception. Human beings are full of rhythm and since I was living downtown, I heard all of their rhythms from my apartment. I would gladly take music over the environmental sounds as their is more variety texturally. Thanks for posting about this project. It is interesting to read your perception.