Tim Hinck's thoughts on music and life- There is a lady living across the street from me. She is dying of cancer. I have never seen anyone so full of life and energy. She loves to work outside in the flowers and grass of her yard. I can see her savoring every sunny day... the way she stands up from planting a flower bulb with such satisfaction on her face and claps the dirt from her gloves with resolution. I want to be like that lady.

Location: Schalkwijk, Utrecht, Netherlands

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Thoughts on Aesthetics II

Perhaps beauty should not be something for which an artist should strive at all. Or perhaps beauty is just not what most people take it for. Example: I recently had a long discussion with an artist friend of mine. He had concerns about a piece of music I had written... said it left him with a "dark" feeling, and that made it hard for him to enjoy. (He didn't say it but others, I can imagine, would say that it just wasn't "beautiful").

This got me to thinking that maybe we have developed a skewed view of what is beautiful. If by "beautiful" we mean "warm and cozy and light-hearted", then we are definitely off track. I feel that beauty is found in any succesful attempt at true expression. I know this seems a little risky, but bear with me. I don't mean that just having something to say, and saying it as strongly as possible is beautiful, but I believe that true beauty is found less in the thing/idea being portrayed than in the manner in which it is portrayed. My artist friend who esteems Picasso's 'Guernica' as one of his favorite paintings finds that it really sparks his imagination. I think that most people would agree that the war-time horrors depicted in that painting are anything but conventionally beautiful. However, the brilliant way in which the subject matter is depicted is so genius, so effective, and yes, even so beautiful. Think of Michelangelo's 'Battle of Cascina' or 'Martyrdom of Paul'. The incredible beauty of these paintings has very little to do with their subject matter, (if anything, the intensity of the subject strengthens the power of the paintings).

So, one more thought from my discussion with my art pal: I asked him, why is it that you find my new composition too dark and are unable to connect with it, but you find 'Guernica' exciting and engaging? The conclusion we reached was that we, as an art-consuming public, have a much easier time appreciating visual art of a dark nature than the same type of music. "Music is supposed to be mood-setting... an uplifting back-drop to life". We are not used to music as art. When you listen to music, you are in for the long-haul. You can't glance at music quickly and decide it's too disturbing and move on. I suppose this is a positive aspect of music: it's strong grip on human emotions.


Blogger At night His song is with me said...

This is cool, Tim. Neat thoughts, I enjoyed reading about your concept of what beauty really is. I look forward to reading more later. I showed this to cliff tonsberg as well and I think we are both excited about your stuff!! Nice to read things from way far away from friends close to us. Hey, have a great week. chris

3/20/2006 9:01 AM  
Blogger Ijsbreker said...

hey chris, thanks for reading! i really need to get back in touch with cliff too.

3/21/2006 1:26 AM  
Blogger An Enlightened Fellow said...

Very good thoughts on beauty. I think there's truth in the phrase "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It could also be in the beholder's ears, hands, feet, or whatever... With music, it's interesting, because there are pieces of music I enjoy playing (on guitar) that may not sound aesthetically pleasing to the listener, but they are fun to play due to their kinesthetic appeal for the person playing the music. Then there are pieces I enjoy playing that are pleasing both to the ear and to the fingers. Then there are other pieces that would be pleasing to the ear, could I make my fingers play them. Yes, music is interesting. I'm not sure what to do about the whole post-modern movement, which it seems, more often than not, leaves the beauty out of the auditory regions of the brain and more in the kinesthetic and mathematical areas of the brain. I think there is a good balance that needs to be found.

3/23/2006 6:46 PM  
Blogger Ijsbreker said...

yes, it can be quite a different experience for the listener than for the performer of music, i agree. but actually the point i was trying to get at was a redefinition, or (to borrow a linguistics term) a de-construction of 'beauty'. in your comment you wrote that post-modernism often "leaves the beauty out..." but my question was: what is beauty really? if you mean "soothing, consonant -as opposed to dissonant - chords and singable melodies" than my next question would be: what makes that beauty? perhaps we need a different definition of beauty, where it is better defined as the successful expression of your idea in a masterful way. In light of this definition, perhaps some modern and post-modern art/music would be seen to have great beauty while some romantic art/music would be seen for the empty trash it is.

3/24/2006 10:59 PM  
Blogger An Enlightened Fellow said...

Yes, I see your point. I guess my definition of beauty is something that would cause the pleasure centers of my brain to activate, over something that would cause me to feel displeasure. But then, it's true that there is beauty in truthful expression of one's self, and truthful expression is not always pleasurable. Perhaps we need another word to describe this sort of feeling or accomplishment, rather than "beauty", because by dictionary definition, "beauty" is something that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and actually comes from the Latin word for "pretty." And then I have to come back to beauty being in the proverbial "eye of the beholder" because everyone will have a different experience of what is being presented to him/her, which may or may not seem pleasurable, based on the algorithms that have been programmed into his/her brain over the course of a lifetime. This concept of what constitutes beauty can be a beast.

3/25/2006 11:18 AM  
Anonymous J-Dizzle said...

Interesting. After pondering a bit on what you said, I kind of concluded that, to me, something is beautiful when I can connect with it, and that doesn't necessarily mean that I can "relate" to it, as in "I feel the same thing", but more: "based on the way this is presented, I can understand, or be honestly affected by it." For that reason, I wouldn't call "D'yer Maker" by Led Zeppelin "beautiful". It's a good song, it's well presented, but to me its not beautiful compared to say, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" by Wilco, so to that extent, I would agree with whoever wrote above me that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". It's a subjective thing..

4/01/2006 3:02 PM  
Blogger Ijsbreker said...

that's true, and perhaps i am taking this beauty thing a little too far, but i really think it has more to do with communicating thoughts and ideas, than just making people feel happy. yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but sometime eyes can be refocused. (btw, your blog entitled "Inventions" is not allowing me to indulge in its contents)...

4/05/2006 7:42 AM  
Anonymous Jerem said...

Good thoughts. Yes. I agree mostly. I was checking out the works by Michelangelo. Did you mean 'Martyrdom of St. Peter', not Paul?

4/10/2006 8:19 AM  
Blogger Ijsbreker said...

yes, of course, thanks for the correction.

4/11/2006 11:34 PM  

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