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    The Experience of Music: The Transcendental Model


    When experiencing music, a listener may allude to aspects of that experience that are difficult to characterize; that are almost wordless or ineffable; that are private and personal; that are individual and deeply meaningful; that may be too evanescent to grasp; that may feel "infinite" or "unbounded" in some sense (can't be boxed in with words).

    Surprisingly, I have been able to construct a model for this variety of experience. The model (the "Transcendental Model") draws on successful models of human experience in the fields in psychoanalysis, psychology, artificial intelligence; which are combined with specific materials from the field of music.


    Isaac Malitz, Ph.D.




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    • 2 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
    • I find this to be absolutely essential - espescially when working with my students whom I wish to convey elements of music history, theory, culture, techique, form, as well as a way "into" the music that they can contribute to and be a part of; and taking into consideration their imagination and unique perspective.  Furthermore, it allows for a discussion of music from a variety of viewpoints and experiences that promotes and invites the richness of musical theory.  

    • I, too, find it absolutely essential to have access to more than one model in order to begin to make sense of music.  The model I created, Tonal Refraction, is a way of dealing with the infinite variability not only of tone but of the perception of tone.  By using colors and a grid, both in a non-fixed manner, variable from day to day, for example, the "refractor," thus freed from right and wrong, creates visual images that provide a basis for verbal exchange.  Rendering visible the invisible act of listening has proved helpful on many levels to students and professionals dealing with fundamental coordination difficulties ranging from the inability to sight-read to focal dystonia.  

      The need for alternative models was made clear by Viktor Zuckerkandl many years ago in his observations about the spatiality of tone.  Standard Music Notation is not useful in dealing with sound on any but the most mechanical level.  

      A mathematician commented on Tonal Refraction that because teachers rely on models they would not welcome alternatives.  Was he right?