D. Clarke, E. Clarke (eds.), Music And Consciousness

Music and Consciousness. Philosophical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives, David Clarke, Eric Clarke (eds.)

This scholarly and multidisciplinary work does not touch on the topic of music games. It is a multi-authored monograph with quite a broad diversity of approaches, many chapters have almost nothing in common with each other, while some have a considerable amount. It might be useful in some of the research about our topic — here is an overview with the potential points of contact highlighted.

The first four chapters represent a common "misalign" towards the wiki — focusing on the perspective of a listener. In the first two, the main theme is phenomenology12, and the perception is treated in such basic terms that might be relevant for the performance perspective too. The third chapter3 extends the seen earlier Husserlian notions with input from Heidegger and Derrida, while the fourth4 represents Lacan. But certainly more gains are to gathered for philosophy than the understanding of music games as such.

Chapters 5-6 are closer, as they're written from the perspective of a performer and specifically of free improvisation. Bennett Hogg in Enacting consciousness, intertextuality, and musical free improvisation: deconstructing mythologies and finding connections has some more (or less) familiar references: Jerzy Grotowski (theatre), Karlheinz Stockhausen (intuitive), and Derek Bailey (free). While inspired by modern threads in cognitive studies the author delivers interesting critique of some concepts developed around free improvisation by musicians themselves. Next, Ansuman Biswas in The music of what happens: mind, meditation, and music as movement views improvisation through Buddhism, connecting it to meditation (useful for some trends within open scores activities). This account is very culturally specific, and an important particular aspect of this take is the "body-centered" practice — Vipassana.

Further chapter5 follows the topic of Buddhism providing a more detailed description of its perception/conciousness philosophy and summarizing its influence on John Cage. Then returning David Clarke and Tara Kini in North Indian classical music and its links with consciousness: the case of dhrupad "stay" in India, but with much more of Hindu and Muslim contexts. Here, the active practitioners of this musical tradition are cited a lot, themes that are the closest to music game research would be around parameters and how differently the basic ingredients of music might be conceptualized depending on the culture. The next chapters stay strong with perception, approaching the topic with the help of William James,6 (here, interestingly, with some input from computer science), then focusing on memory/association with a closer case study of a waltz.7 then the book slows down with a broad overview of music-consciousness relations done with a lot of care towards methodologies. Here, the author connects flow with 'deep listening', although without more details, so it might be just a homonym with the practice of Pauline Oliveros.8

Chapters 12-14 might be the ones with the most potential for usage in music games context, especially of the more spatial type. These all share the focus on the body, treating it as a basis for music cognition. If musical "gestures" were understood in the terms of own movement (the intensity, complexity, directions automatically translated) it's easy to see how music cognition would happen at the completely pre-verbal (even sub-notion) stage, and how the musical meaning was so exquisitely personal.

To be more specific, Alicia Peñalba Acitores in Towards a theory of proprioception as a bodily basis for consciousness in music might have the only chapter where Lakoff's & Johnson's cognitive metaphors/image schemata are referred (an otherwise popular theory), among many others. Rolf Inge Godøy in Sound-action awareness in music has maybe the most empirical music cognition take, and also considers 'chunks' — minimal recognizable portions of (in this case) musical content (not to be mistaken for 'sonic primitives' measured physically) — a topic worth pondering when approaching musical parameters in abstract. Andy McGuiness and Katie Overy end this section with Music, consciousness, and the brain: music as shared experience of and embodied present adding a bit more mirror-neurons, communication threads to the mix.

The following three chapters are all preoccupied with specific states of consciousness. At first in the context of recreational drugs9, then ayahuasca rituals10, and lastly with more common absorbing activities that involve listening to music.11

Chapter 18, Practical Consciousness and Social relation in MusEcological perspective by Tia DeNora, is one last entry to single out for our purposes. This time, the potential profits for music game research lie mostly in the affiliation with music therapy, which is not a rare point of departure towards music games (even if not covered broadly at the wiki). While following a few separate practical threads, it shows us an anonymized case of community music, with free improvisation mentioned as sporadically involved. This seemed like context where music games could easily be included (didn't seem to be), but also it clearly indicated that some music gaming situations could also be analyzed with the socially involved method presented in this chapter.

The world of politics is visited in the analysis of Latin American popular song sub-genre.12. And finally we have a musicology of the opera L'Orfeo done through Jung.13

All in all, from our narrow point of view it's certainly a book peripheries material, but generally quite interesting, well prepared, and it should provide opportunities to find something for yourself, if academic writing is of interest to you, and if you pick and choose chapters in your reading.

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