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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000063.txt from 2000/09

From: "Rien Stein" <rstein@-----.nl>
Subj: [kl] Language vs. music
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2000 17:59:20 -0400

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In 1980 I passed the exams for a Masters degree in psychology. Musical =
perception was not a part of the research at that time - I graduated on =
adolescent problems -, but then already it was a wellknown fact, that =
musical perception is located in parts of the brain quite different from =
those for perception and recognition of the spoken word. The same can be =
said about the sounds we utter.

To begin with the last: it is a well-known fact, that people who =
stutter, often can better express themselves, when they sing what they =
want to "say". My brother-in-law, who is a very heavy stutterer since =
his mother's death, 50 years ago, told me this is true - after you have =
conquered the problem of courage: when we're together, he dares to sing, =
and then I sing back, as if we are performing duets, but he never will =
do so even to my sister, as she thinks it is ridiculous to do so. We do =
have a lot of fun, and laugh a lot together, not about the singing, but =
about all possible subjects we are "talking" about.

My own experience is, that I can barely understand people in a quiet =
surrounding, and not at all in a noisy one, but that I can follow =
several musical lines, and detect what say, the hoboist does in a -ppp- =
passage, as long as the *total* orchestral strength surpasses the =
minimum my ears require. Even my musically very gifted oldest son =
sometimes is surprised I heard things he didn't hear!

So, there is a large difference in the perception, and thus also in the =
individually decided semantics, of spoken (or, as to that: sung) =
language, and music. If I were a professional psychologist (after my =
Masters of Psychology I also studied Computer Science, before I had =
studied Mechanical Engineering, in both I also made the Masters degree), =
connected to a university I am sure I would have investigated this =
particular field of perception: the difference in perception of music =
and the spoken word. With in mind my latest experiences: understanding =
spoken Dutch, English and French is getting all the time more difficult =
to me, French and Italian remain the same, Spanish is slightly =
inceasing. But Indonesian is almost reaching the level of understanding =
spoken Dutch. For increasing my knowledge and understanding of both =
Indonesian and Spanish I used many records with songs. Of course with =
Indonesian it helps, if you know wayang performances or the Ramayana =
ballet with its stories, and gamelan music does not put you off. (In my =
opinion the gamelan orchestra is very interesting, especially, if you =
not only listen to it, but also can see it.)

I know, this topic is in some ways far off the topic of this list, but =
as it has to do with our main subject: music and interpreting and =
understanding it, I feel free to post it.

Rien

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