Language and Music

mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/wvxu/files/styles/small/public/201810/otis_rush.cobra_cover.jpg

THE SONG BEGINS with a great resonating shout of joy and pain that resolves into the word “Well,” swooping down from a soaring A flat to E flat. “I can’t quit you, baby,” the singer continues, the band entering with a crashing seventh chord, “but I got to put you down for a while.” … The guitar responds with a six-note phrase, played twice. An ideal match for the voice, the guitar’s sound is stingingly incisive, rich with vibrato and its own exhilarating bends and sustains, at once lush and restrained.

(Carlo Rotella, “Otis Rush,” NYTimes Magazine, 12-2018)

I’m persuaded that painting enters our senses visually, and music enters them audibly, and that language is not involved in conveying what each medium conveys. I’m also convinced that the viewer or listener benefits from repeated encounters with a great work via the pertinent sensory faculty — eye or ear — scrubbed of the intrusion of narrative or doctrine. However, I confess that, be it a crutch or an illusion, I feel that sometimes a piece of good descriptive writing seems to enhance my apprehension of a work, especially with music. Afterwards, I can listen to it with greater esthetic rapture. In a sense, I can be taught to hear a work slightly better with the assistance of language.

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.