Big Pieces (Not a Cure for Cancer)

Here’s an interesting speech on music by Karl Paulnack to the Boston Conservatory Freshman Class about the nature of music. He’s of the opinion that music isn’t just for entertainment. He even sees music as the answer to world peace, somehow. Here’s one passage.

One of the first cultures to articulate how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you: the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us.

It reminds me of a thing I hear from time to time, mostly form hack pop-stars about their singles, about their records: “It’s not a cure for cancer.”

Which is, I suppose a nice self-deprecating way to keep oneself from getting a big head, but it troubles me when I remember that musicians aren’t gene therapists and that the end goal isn’t a cure for cancer. It’s to make something transcendent. By setting up a false goal to fall short of these pop stars justify their often lame recordings by selling all music short.

I don’t know if music can bring about world peace, maybe that’s not the goal either, but it is about something big.

Keep Rocking!

–Dan Kilian

The Line

Regarding the Events off of Mayburn Key, July 23rd, 1964

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