Reading Guide for Langer, �Feeling and Form� by guy25


									Reading Guide for Langer,
   “Feeling and Form”
   Music, the symbol of feeling
 According    to Langer, “Music is the tonal
  analogue of emotive life.” In other words,
  music feels like life. Do you agree?
 Langer also says that the function of music
  is not to stimulate feeling, but to express it.
     Music, the symbol of feeling
 Music does not necessarily express the
  composer’s feelings at the time; rather, it
  expresses the composer’s knowledge of the
  inner life, a kind of knowledge that cannot well
  be expressed in words. It is “a symbolic
  expression of the forms of sentience as the
  composer understands them.”
 Note: if you like, this can be an emotional
  understanding, one the composer could not well
  express in any other way than by writing music.
           Music and language
 Music is like language. It has discrete parts that
  can be combined in a variety of ways to make
  new expressive wholes.
 Music is unlike language. The discrete parts of
  language (words) have fixed meanings assigned
  to them: combining these meanings
  grammatically makes larger units of meaning.
  By contrast, the discrete units of music (tones)
  have no fixed meaning. Only when these units
  are combined does the result have meaning.
Music and language (continued)
 Because   the parts of music have no fixed
  meaning, we are “free to fill its subtle
  articulate forms with any meaning that fits
 So we do “comprehend the processes of
  life and sentience through [music’s]
  audible, dynamic pattern,” yet a passage
  of music has no defined and specific
     Langer’s thesis – some test
 Listen to these pieces to see if you think what
  Langer says is true about them. Do they “feel
  like life” in any way? Are they structured in the
  way experience is emotionally structured
  through time? Is this what makes them work?
 Ravel: Jeux d’eau
 Bach: Toccata, adagio and fugue in C major
 Links to these pieces are at the bottom of the
  Course Guides page. If you like, just listen to
  the fugue part of the Bach piece: it starts at
  11minutes 10 seconds into the piece and runs to
  the end.
 Langer    now develops her theory by
  elaborating the idea of image or likeness.
 She suggests that each art form creates a
  virtual reality of some sort in the images of
  objects that it produces.
 Painting, sculpture and architecture create
  varieties of virtual space. Music creates
  virtual time.
      Virtual time and space
 What is the point of talking about virtual
 space and virtual time? After all, paintings,
 sculptures and buildings take up real
 space, and music takes real time.
 Virtual time and space (continued)
 Langer’s answer: the space in a painting is not
  the real (flat) space of the canvas, but the virtual
  or imagined space the viewer sees. The time in
  a piece of music is not the literal time it takes to
  hear it, but the virtual time into which the listener
  enters while hearing it.
 This time is created by rhythm, by harmonic
  movement, and by many other devices. It is a
  subjective time, the time of an imagined
  experience, or rather of what an experience
  feels like.

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