hearing the spaces around sounds…

While reading some research about rhythm cognition I came across a link to a chapter (“How Music Organizes Time”) of Robert Garfias’ book.

This is quote is pretty self-explanatory!

In teaching us to see more accurately in order to draw realistically, Betty Edwards in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, advises us that we must first overcome the natural interference created by the preconceptions that the “logical” and “thinking” functions of our brains have been trained to tell us about objects we see. We need to see things as our eyes see them, not as our “intellectualizing” brain tells us it knows it really is. She suggests that we may learn to achieve this by attempting to look not only at the object but also around it at the abstract pattern of shapes created by the spaces around the object.

By thus concentrating on these abstract patterns of space for which we have no logical or verbal preconceptions the actual form of the object we are attempting to depict will appear in more accurate proportions. In music we are accustomed to thinking of sounds, but these sounds would not lend themselves to organization into meaningful patterns without the spaces which set them off.

While in many cultures music is thought of as a pattern of sounds, in fact, the durations, pauses, rests, or empty spaces which surround the sound are also a vital element in delineating patterns in our perception. In our culture we sometimes speak of a person as having a bad sense of rhythm. This usually means that this person is not careful or skillful in preserving the spaces around the sounds, although the sounds themselves might be correct.


2 thoughts on “hearing the spaces around sounds…

  1. It was Thelonius Monk that said “It’s not what you play that’s important, but what you don’t play!”

    That is one thing I find young musicians forgetting–they are so concerned with the notes that they will often let the spaces in between the notes slip!


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