Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interdigitation from Within


The voice of the muse comes to realization in and through the limits of the body. Look at your hand. Turn it over. Stretch it. Point it. Thump it. For a musician, of all the structures that impose their discipline on us, the most ubiquitous and marvellous is the human hand. Beginning with the fact that the hand has five digits and not six or four, the hand predisposes our work toward particular conformations because it itself has a shape. The kind of music you play on the violin or piano, the kind of painting that comes from your handling of the brush, the pottery you turn on the wheel, is intimately influenced by the shape of your hands, by the way they move, by their resistances. The structure of the hand is not (once again) "just anything"; the fingers have certain characteristic relationships, certain ranges of relative movement, certain kinds of crossing, torquing jumping, sliding, pressing, releasing movements that guide the music to come out in a certain way. Graceful work uses those patterns and instinctively moves through them and out as we find ever-fresh combinations. The shape and size of the human hand brings powerful but subtle laws into every kind of art, craftsmanship, mechanical work, and into our ideas and feelings as well. There is a continuous dialogue between hand and instrument, hand and culture. Artwork is not thought up in consciousness and then, as a separate phase, executed by the hand. The hand surprises us, creates and solves problems on its own. Often enigmas that baffle our brains are dealt with easily, unconsciously, by the hand.

(Free Play, pp. 81-82, my bold)

Terpsichore represents the apotheosis of the muse—the prism through which the full spectrum of musicality becomes spectral—because of this emancipating limitation of the hand. Does improvisation have as a deep structure the morphology of the hand? A human hand? Why not two hands? Is the breach shaped or directed by hands? Are apparition and depth on par, a par shaped by the hands?

Forget propositional knowledge for a moment. Feel your hands from the inside. Does this describe a real feeling: feeling your hands from the inside? Where does "from the inside" find its place in the full spectrum of musicality?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 3:06 PM.


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