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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

There are days

Musical passion

There are more days than not when the music enthusiast (such as me) finds the entire subject of Music an essential condition of life. Is not Music a temptation for over-indulgence in something 'nice' yet basically unimportant in the scheme of things? Well, is it?

If you have chosen to read this your answer will scale Music's importance to your own evaluation, or your passion will encourage indignation that Music might be under-rated. Either way, and regardless of our own estimation, Music is unequivocally unique and unquestionably significant as an enormous influence upon Mankind, a role it has played from Man's earliest habitation of this planet.

So, where do we fit in? Individually we care as much or little about Music as our temperament allows. We are all different in countless ways, and some of that admits or rejects Music from our lives. If rejected there is a clear difference between one and the other. As one with a musically-saturated mind I regard Life generally as a state-of-being in which the effect of Music is crucial to my existence. There can be no withdrawal from this estimation unless the vital element of Music is missing, and that I regard as unimaginable.

In this regard how do you stand? I've no clear idea what statistical evidence there might be to prove much of the world musically fallow -- or the reverse. As most of us have some element of musical feeling within -- mostly unrealised -- there's probably a stronger feeling for its progression rather than against. There can only be an academic answer, and that probably incapable of genuine interpretation.

My inclination is to respond as I find in the world generally, which suggests that about two in ten may acknowledge Music if it is within earshot. As for the rest, it is a sensation common to most ears yet only 'heard' should a single element have a familiar outline.

If that assumption runs counter to your own understanding, let it remain so whilst I put a general hypothesis to the test: most of us can recognise a popular tune, especially if it returns us to childhood memories. More to the point, does such a tune and reaction create a pleasurable response linked with favourable memories? Whilst that suggestion may seem pointless, I've noted occasions when a response can invoke the reverse, indicating a less-than-enjoyable initiation. Further, the 'difficult' occasion has a stronger hold upon our senses, and stays within our memory longer and deeper.

I've always been fascinated by musical memory, especially from childhood when musical response is early in its development. In my seventies the feeling of everlasting growth indicates that it should never stagnate, although I do question the assumption that our musical development guarantees a kind of maturity lacking in those of lesser years. We mature at different rates, as I've noticed from some of my elders still making judgements of questionable value!

Copyright © 15 July 2003 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



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