Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Musical Philosopher: Frescamari's Disclaimer/Explanation

Before I proceed any further with this new blogging hobby of mine I'd better straighten something out for my dear readers. I am VERY opinionated. I am bursting at the seams to express my opinions, but what holds me back is that I'm largely uninformed. I only know a little bit.

Here's a picture of what I think is my relationship to the musical world:

I love to read and participate in a message board where singers are hanging out on the web, The New Forum For Classical Singers Many of the topics there are stimulating, and I often want to burst into the discussion. I have always been somewhat shy about it, despite how encouraging many of them have been. There is such a range of singers reading the message board, however, many of the singers there have studied in music school, some are professors at universities, others are voice teachers. I find this a little intimidating, based on my non-professional status and my minimal training in music.

But here on my blog, I figure this is my own personal cyber space and it has no authority but that it's mine, so I can expound however I desire. I just want the reader (should there ever be any readers) to realize that my objective knowledge is tiny and this is all just my own opinion.

In a certain aspect, my opinions do have value in that they come from a knowledge of self. I believe that a whole range of truths about the world at large is contained within a single person, so having studied and gotten to know myself a bit, there is knowledge within that that can be worthwhile and applied to the greater body of knowledge. In addition, any one who gives himself passionately to and develops a discipline and skill in one area has come into contact with principles that are applicable to all of life, because most of it works the same, and what applies to one discipline crosses over to another.

Recently I have encountered some thoughts that clarify why this is so. I found some justification for presenting my philosophical musings.

In a book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren called How to Read A Book a chapter on how to pigeonhole a book discussed how to identify a philosophical book, and the distinctions between a philosophical work and a scientific one.

It said "In contrast, a philosophical book appeals to no facts or observations that lie outside the experience of the ordinary man. A philosopher refers the reader to his own normal and common experience for the verification or support of anything the writer has to say."

That's what I do! It sure does sound like an elaborate justification for not having any outside knowledge, but just reading this gave me more confidence about the type of thinking and reflection that I love.

It goes on to say: "The distinction proposed here is properly recognized when we say that science is experimental or depends upon elaborate observational researches, whereas philosophy is merely armchair thinking."

So, dear reader, that is what you will encounter in this blog. My very own special brand of "armchair thinking" about music. It is armchair thinking that will be further enlightened as I push that circle of my life more and more over into the bigger circle of the musical world.

And lastly, the authors of How to Read a Book explain: "This does not mean that the philosopher is a pure thinker and the scientist merely an observer. Both have to observe and think, but they think about different sorts of observations. And however they may have arrived at the conclusions that they want to prove, they prove them in different ways, the scientist by pointing to the results of his special experiences, the philosopher, by pointing to experiences that are common to all."

This is what I hope this blog will be about. I want to use my experience of learning to sing and explore music as a springboard to point to experiences that are common to all, no matter what passion may inflame the heart.

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