ABSTRACT MUSICS: contemplative/signification-meaning/rational/personal (modern)
TRANSPERSONAL MUSICS: integral/intuitive-experiential/spiritual/transpersonal (postmodern)
It is important to remember at this point that the thrust of evolution, in the integral view, is to "transcend and include", meaning that while abstract, contemplative music proceeds from ritual music, it does not completely bypass or exclude ritual music, nor does it have to exceed the communal functionality of it. In a given social system abstract and ritual musics may even exist side-by-side and operate in conjunction with each other. As musical praxis extends into the mental-logical dimension it retains aspects of ritual that remain necessary or useful in that new dimension. To be specific, concert music cannot exist without some trace of ritual (particularly the ritual of concert performance), without a mythical framework upon which to construct, interpret, and reinterpret its themes and deify its great composer-heroes, without communal interdependency to make possible the cultural preservation of old works and the ongoing creation of new ones. So it follows that a transpersonal music must be able to differentiate itself but NOT dissociate from the functional identities of both ritual and abstract musics if the overall goal is to transcend and include.
It is also important to note that even though we are dealing with hierarchical organization of holons (or holarchies), it does not necessarily follow that all abstract music is more advanced than all ritual music. Those familiar with Wilber’s writings will understand that he repeatedly emphasizes the point that evolution often proceeds very unevenly, and an individual or a society may be very well advanced in one line of development, and simultaneously very underdeveloped or even pathological in another (Wilber’s common example is the Nazi doctor – one who is very intellectually advanced but morally and ethically stunted).
So the challenge now is to adapt the integral view of evolution to a musical point of view. How exactly does a transpersonal music work, being a form of communication that transcends (and includes) symbolic communal function as well as language-based rational/mental perspectives and philosophical concepts? Might this line of inquiry provide a clue as to what is truly meant by the old axiom, "Music is the universal language"?
Here we might take a cue from the visual arts, which in the twentieth century were more immediately successful at escaping the confines of literal representation than music (even though music as an abstract form was the initial inspiration for abstract art vis-à-vis Kandinsky):
"The ‘pure’ red of which certain abstractionists speak does not exist, no matter how one shifts its physical contexts. Any red is rooted in blood, glass, wine, hunter’s caps, and a thousand other concrete phenomena. Otherwise we should have no feeling toward red or its relations, and it would be useless as an artistic element." - Robert Motherwell, "Beyond the Aesthetic" (1946)
There is a telling scene in the movie Pollock where Jackson Pollock’s character, played by Ed Harris, is asked about the "meaning" of his paintings. Pollock relates the experience of art to looking at a sunrise, "You don’t ask what it means…" This statement gets to the core of what a transpersonal art should do; it ought to be as simple as looking at a sunrise. We don’t need to see a sign posted to tell us to sit down and enjoy it, or even a program to interpret its meaning for us. The sensitive individual already knows intuitively what to do. Everything that has ever been known about beauty comes into play at that point, as we experience the sunrise as a brand new synthesis of emotional values, symbolic associations, and literal meanings that were in place previous to this experience. We create experience – we improvise at that point, by discovering and forging new connections to our prior experience, our prior knowledge.
SEMIOTIC: rational/language - writing, telling or listening to a story about a sunrise.
INTUITIVE: trans-rational/trans-language - experiencing an actual sunrise.
1. CULTURAL: style-associations (LL)
"It is the artists who guard the spiritual in the modern world." - Robert Motherwell, "The Modern Painter’s World" (1944) Mysticism has to do with experience, creativity with establishing experience as realization. In this way the artist reveals something hidden behind and beyond mysticism. The art work in this context assumes a spiritual dimension, becomes a spiritual text.
This integral spirit is obvious in the music of Bach, Beethoven, Ives, Stockhausen, Ellington, Sun Ra, Mingus, Braxton, Dylan, Zappa… these figures are not so much innovators as they are integrators, having that rare ability to perceive the breadth of information available to their time period and craft a holistic, profoundly artistic and culturally apposite statement from it. As well or as little known as some of these figures have become, so far this potential is yet to be fully realized on a global scale. There is no reason not to believe that the heights of creativity achieved by the great master artists might someday be universally accessible, as the scientific inventions of Edison, for instance, are now available to us all.
But contemporary art culture praises focus, which may be why we don’t reward our Bachs and our Ellingtons anymore (and possibly why they weren't so rewarded in the first place). The integral-thinking artist is considered unfocused, unable to be pigeonholed or explained in terms of style, or summed up in a tidy feature article or a concisely written grant proposal. The obvious example of this is Braxton, who has completely repositioned literal meaning in his music with the pictorial and systemic titling of his works, and after nearly four decades continues to mystify his critics.
Creativity is evolution, integration, the continuous revealing of the full spectrum of consciousness – the completion of which is the unfolding or involution of spirit in the world. Our task as individuals is to seek and reveal the authentic, and to learn to understand that the only absolute is that which is so completely beyond and within oneself. The task of the creative musician is to chip away at this essential truth, one sound at a time. There are many small revolutions within the one Revelation. Posted by KRIS TINER at 4:31 PM Labels: aqal, integral, the open work