This week I attended a panel discussion at LSE as part of a collection of public philosophy events. Three academics, a philosopher, a philosopher and musician, and a theatrical performance academic discussed the relationship between philosophy and music, and as mentioned in the title: ‘Improv your mind: Philosophy, music and making things up’.
One of the first points was that music makes more sense than philosophy. There is nothing more solid that philosophy brings to the equation than music does. It is not a science which can bring clarity to the ineffable. And why would we consider music to be ineffable I was curious. Is it the wonder and the profound intrinsic effect it can have makes us want to rationalise it, perhaps to make us feel secure in our future with it? A later point perhaps answers the idea of the profound intrinsic effect. We are rhythmic beings and music interacts with the pulses in our blood and the patterns of rhythm in our organs and our thoughts.
There was some humour when the speaker stated with confidence that philosophers never agree on the big ideas whereas musicians are more in agreement. There are masterpieces than very few would disagreed are just that, masterpieces. Perhaps this is the composer being so well connecting the body and it’s rhythm which relates to the functioning of all.
Philosophy is reflecting our participation in the world and music is very much a community experience. People out in the world bringing each other together and making that the world.
Like ideas which have changed history, bringing new ideas to music and breaking the rules, introduces changes, which, depending on how they are received are built into the future norm. New ideas are brought to those, expanding the repertoire of ideas which will be subject to further improvisation.
Improvisation introduces and carries change in my eyes, and our future depends on it…