Music and The Number Four

The number 4

The Number Four in a gray cloud.

This article is about The Number Four—the conclusion to a three-part message.

That’s right—my message had only three parts—Place, The Body, and The Heart.

Music and Place is about place, Music and The Body is about the body, and Music and The Heart is about the heart.  Each article progresses.

These articles are a progression inasmuch as form is visible.

The first article, Music and Place, ended with the line, “…finds form, loses it, finds form, loses it…”  Each article found its form then lost it, found its form, then lost it…  When form is lost, progression is broken.  One can still progress, if the finding and breaking of form becomes the progression.

The three previous articles’ ability to take shape is highly contingent upon how you see clouds.  Do you see black-and-white?  Do you see gray? Do you only see silver lining? Are you color blind like me?
A group of three neatly present a beginning, middle and end.  The first was an introduction, the second had plenty of meat, and the third tried to make sense of it all.

But what do you do with Four?  Two beginnings? Two middles? Two ends?  All we can be sure of is a beginning.

Here in The Number Four, my form is finally lost, not to be re-found.

Nevertheless, I will try.  Here are a few new beginnings:

How do you define locality when you nebulously float from one place to the next?

How do you embody in-the-moment magic?

How does one take form while staying true to the heart?

I think this Number Four is an ending to three beginnings, and three new beginnings to one ending.

The ultimate is always the least formed, the most becoming.

I have poured a great deal of energy into the way I write about music, as I have similarly done for the way I compose and play music itself.  As these writing choices come to focus here at the NewMusicBox, I am discovering that it is not so much a matter of finding (or re-finding) the right note, the right chord, the right word.  Rather, a note, a chord, a word, then another, then another, until you are out of space.

I’m afraid I’m almost out of space.  And in the first article I wrote, “I’m afraid it has begun.”

Writing is scary.

Although I’m almost out of space, I will say this: For both musical and literary composition, the work will shine through if it is deeply meaningful to the author or performer.  I hope it is clear that this is all deeply meaningful to me.

And, I’ll say yet one more thing:  I’ve thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to contribute to NewMusicBox for the month of May.  I hope my words have meant something to my fellow musicians and music appreciators here in the U.S.  I’ve had such a pleasure sharing my thoughts with you, and am thankful for the personal growth this process has afforded me.  Special thanks to the editors, writers, and readers of NMBx that keep this platform dynamic and relevant.

2 thoughts on “Music and The Number Four

  1. Kyle Gann

    My first undergraduate composition taught us that it was a rule that you could get away with repeating a high-profile gesture three times in a piece, but no more. As a consequence, for forty years I have made something of a fetish of repeating things four times in a piece.

    Be careful what you tell your students.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Conversation and respectful debate is vital to the NewMusicBox community. However, please remember to keep comments constructive and on-topic. Avoid personal attacks and defamatory language. We reserve the right to remove any comment that the community reports as abusive or that the staff determines is inappropriate.