Silent Clamor (Part I)

Some people say that question is the desire to learn about what we don’t know.

Now let’s define “questioning” this way: The questioner confronts darkness and unawareness on the path towards cognizance the answer and solution to which he is enthusiastic to find. So wandering around in this vagueness and darkness along the way in order to overcome doubts and hesitations is absolutely natural. In other words, the more gates the questioner opens and the more doors he enters, the more he’ll feel positive towards what he has learned so far and the learned material will gain more reinforcement and permanence. As human beings are constantly attempting to discover the unknown facts, life carries on with plenty of questions.

According to the way things were sorted out before, whatever appeared to be vague and unknown to humans was put into question, as usual, thoroughly discussed and either proved or rejected in the works of great philosophers and figures. However, nowadays neither is the pen in the hands of such qualified figures and nor are we obliged to follow the usual ways.

In “The Silent Clamor” which accumulates a collection of articles about music, I would like to discuss basic questions concerning the philosophy and the essence of music.

What is the essence of the music?

What is the philosophy of music?

In the modern age, philosophy enters various fields and is no longer the far-fetched and maybe inflexible knowledge it once used to be. The circumstances of today’s world have appealed to many philosophers and researchers. Music is one of those many fields and although studying it from a philosophical point of view is not a novelty, the original aesthetic theories and the several new musical styles in the modern times have drawn a great amount of attention to themselves.

A group of artists considers music as the greatest art believing it to be completely abstract and independent of any kind of material possessions. Art that is in no relation to the outer world –nature, society and history- and neither is affected by them nor affects them in any kind of way. However, by taking a brief look at what music has been through, we find such outlook upon music to be false.

Music has been in constant alterations based on the circumstances of the different eras it’s been once through. Music is known to be a type of language which, like any other, possesses a lingual framework and grammar of its own. Music is the saying of people and a musician is the utterance of that saying. It’s a musician’s job to state whatever people have to say: people who sometimes are aware of what they desire and sometimes not…

A study of history proves that people’s criticisms of the social events, their needs and desires have always been communicated through ballads, anthems, and marches. In the past few centuries and from the middle of the Qajar dynasty age onwards, traditional genuine Iranian music went through changes alongside the change occurred in the viewpoints of the musicians and the social atmosphere of the age. Such alterations have been going on so far and will indeed continue.

The language of music can be blunt and explicit about the facts while whatever saying it has is covered up by a series of ambiguities and opacity. Occasionally, music delivers its speech in a way that tends to cause people to comply and submit to it and conquers their ideology and thought. Music cries and the loudness and boldness of its clamor draws attention to what it has to say and yet it’s silent due to the spread of its explicit clamor from behind the covers of metonymies and ambiguities and this is why I tend to call music, “the silent clamor”.

A few days before the Islamic Republic revolution, ballads –tasnifs-, in close union with the people, were heard. Ballads that spoke the words of the people, delivered their voice to others and cried out their desires and protests. Ballads such as  Morq-e Sahar (Dawn Bird), Javanan-e Vatan (The Young of the Nation), Hezar Dastan (Nightingales) and etc… spoke of the hardships of that time and what the unjust government brought upon people’s lives. And in the last days during the revolutionary conflict, we heard the mesmerizing, victorious sound of ballads like In Pirouzist (This is Victory), Ey Iran (O Iran) and Iran, Saray-e Omid (Iran, O the House of Hope). And today, long after several decades, we still hear the cry of that Dawn Bird… And they still, same as the old days, try to make it silent at dawn. We hear the cry of such pieces as Bade Bad Bad, Zaban-E Atash, Morq-e Sahar Naleh Sar Makon, and Sougvaran-e Khamoush…

Traditional genuine Iranian music has been through several alterations and developments within years including the creation of schools and the various musical styles.

Maqami music, Qajari music, and the contemporary music are instances whose evolutionary and modifying processes are thoroughly explained in series such as Ganj-e Soukhte (The Burnt Treasure) and Sad Sal Musiqi Irani (100 Years of Iranian Music).

The history of Classical Music also proves the fallacy of such an assumption. The Classical Music too, alongside with the other arts, has been the object of change and evolution and has passed its way through various schools -like the Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Neo-Romanticism…- with the same characteristics affecting the other arts, while its transformations being in line with the social changes from the 15th to 20th centuries.

So we observe that music, as well as the other arts, has a close relation with the outer world. And not only it is inspired by it, but also affects it so fantastically that it’s regarded as one of the most inspiring and effective arts when it comes to the movement of a society.

In spite of the fact that music has a different method of utterance in comparison to the other arts, its fundamental essence, as an art which depicts the human response to the outer world and his inner life, is no different from the other arts and similarly, using what is known as human images or human faces, reflects human’s inner life and the outer world surrounding him. Music does not consist of a sound accompanying another one, but is a series of ordered, arranged and pleasant sounds which sounds like a united being to the ear and this united being which creates exclusive mental conditions, is indeed the human side (face) of the music which originates from the composer’s mind and flows, like a river of mental streams, upon the boundless and limitless bed of music.

Music embodies thoughts using these human images. Thoughts which are not the same as those found in scientific essays and articles, but are rather deep and profound who have come to life from the most hidden corners of their creator’s mind, which affect the audience and interpret and analyze the concept of life; Thoughts that nurture the concepts of culture and freedom and affect the education and the upbringing of the new generations and put minds and individual or social behaviors through changes.

The source of human emotions is what he’s seen and heard. And the most rational thoughts and actions cause emotions as well. Sentiment and rationality don’t contradict one another in terms of their essence and music are capable of communicating thoughts and feelings in addition to emotional states.

Had music were to be provoking personal human emotions – those which are not much different than real life emotions – only, there would be no reason for it to exist any longer; That is because the real life does much better at this job than music. For instance, no romantic music will ever be the same as real love, in terms of power and no mourning music is ever as hurtful and sad as the grief itself.

Therefore if music quenches the thirst of our souls and fulfills our inner desire, it definitely does much more than just the communication of private emotions. And that is none other than communicating mental states, thoughts, and complex inner mental feelings.

Using sounds, music provides new states of inner life and qualities of human relations and exerts an influence over individual or social spirit and modifies them. Music, as one of the greatest productions of the human mind, not only embodies thoughts concerning life but also provides an innovative life and adds new dimensions to the world.

The inner conditions caused by music are not restricted or any similar to those trembling temporary feelings which occur at different times and vanish and are substituted with other momentary ones. A musician, more or less, tends to utilize all his personal and social experiences while creating a piece of music rather than an abrupt, transient condition; Which causes it to be a collection of centered mental conditions that depicts a particular outlook upon life. And as music is struggling in the organized social conduits, this outlook is usually one not on a particular moment of life but to the more fundamental conditions of living which are resisting the surging stream of everyday changes and effects, more or less consciously, all the parts of society including the musician and the composer themselves.

Music, on its own, may seem the most inner-centered art due to the lack of words or images.  But it has, after all, a feature that makes it approach the outer world and its inner conditions are interpretations of life in a way that shows it goes on or should go on.

What flows in music may not be seen by those who are not seeking it, or heard by those who are not passionate about ineloquent attraction. Such people might listen to the deepest piece of music and yet find it a random collection of scattered sounds put together or a series of euphonious but vague sounds.

True comprehension and pleasure from music takes place only if we listen to its melody and sound intently and hard and let our mind, emotions, and thoughts flow along with its streams, get priceless benefits from it and enrich our soul and spirit with tranquility and peace.

Music is a bridge between the mind of an artist and the mind of the one who admires art; A bridge that combines two unbound boundaries. It’s a light shone from the soul of its creator upon the soul of its receiver. Therefore, music is a kind of inside communicative bridge between the minds of the creator and the listener. And this is why music could be regarded as a psychological phenomenon and could be studied and perceived from a psychological perspective and one could observe the invisibilities within it with the eyes of the soul.

There have been many interesting observed cases about the wonderful effect of music on the human mind since ancient times. In fact, music’s miraculous effects have always been in the spotlight, from the most ancient myths about the magical effect of it on the human mind to the most modern psychotherapy approaches in which music is used as a sufficient tool for treating mental illnesses.