The term biomusicology refers to the scientific study of music, and its innate biological alignment with the human form. It asserts and explores the notion that music’s deep connection with the brain, and thus it it has deep connection with the progression and preservation of humanity.
I have no doubt that the musical medium, in all its intricacy and complexity, somehow aligns with my intrinsic self.
A song climbs from its subtle introduction, where suspense is built, through accentuation of the calm, as it holds off until the last second to cataclysmically explode. Much like eating salty crisps, without taking a sip of water, until the you are past the point of thirst, it creates an ultimate satisfaction when it hits. The crescendo builds, into a driving melody. A melody which you immediately know, without ever having heard it before. The music sways and bends as it progress’ and evolves, changing form and building upon itself. Hairs stand on end and shivers run down my spine. I’ve found my groove.
For so long I have struggled to define and categorise why some music grabs me, and why some I can’t help but discard into the overflowing waste-paper basket of mediocrity. It’s a struggle to self-justify and self-define, which won’t ever be quenched. Logic draws me, though, to follow the notion that music in all its wonder is intrinsic to humanity. Upon examination, I have found that the music which resonates most potently with myself is, as I define it, organic. It focuses on the beauty within the perfect correlation of melody, pitch, rhythm and drive and is written from a place of pure passion. It is subjectively organic.
Frances Densmore, an American ethnomusicologist, focused her life upon harnessing the beauty which she found within Native American music. Her early appreciation of music came from listening to the local Dakota Indians. From a place of purity and what I believe to be an organic source. She went on to devote herself to the preservation of this beauty through recording and understanding this music. The organic source of Densmore’s love for music is something which I find truly inspirational.
Though we live in a society which struggles from over-saturation and over-subjectification of music, I find myself drawn to only certain artists and compositions. Too many times have I had a close friend or new acquaintance list out a number of artists, and ask for my opinion. Too many times have I crinkled my nose and shrugged my shoulders at the majority of these suggestions. Why is that? Am I a musical snob? Do I think myself above the general consensus for what is good and what is bad? No… It’s because the music I don’t like simply don’t resonate with me. I believe this comes back to the biomusical study of the blatant parallels between the human mind and music. If I don’t like it, it’s because it simply doesn’t align.
Bonobo’s fourth release, Black Sands is one of the key compositions that springs to mind when I try to decipher what music I do like. Although it is from an electronic source, Simon Green’s music’s focus upon beauty and wonder in the melodic form resonates within me. It enhances whatever environment I am in, and creates an outward and inward positivity. Danish band Mew create this same feeling and emotion for me. Though their music doesn’t arise from a blatantly organic source, as they also use the electric medium, it creates an organic reaction from me.
Jose Gonzalez evokes this reaction from me for a completely different reason. His music is so raw and simple, and focus’ on the subtlety of human expression. It is stripped back to the bare minimum and creates, within me, an understanding of a human’s intrinsic melodic sense. Bon Iver also does this. For Emma Forever Ago, as a product of Justin Vernon’s retreat to a mountain cabin, in a time of heightened personal crisis, to express himself musically, is really what organic musicality is all about.
In effect, the alignment between a human and music forms the basis for the music which I love. If a piece doesn’t resonate with my intrinsic self, I simply cannot enjoy it. I am a bi-product of a hype-fueled, externally influenced world. But I will enjoy what I enjoy because I enjoy it. That’s all there is to it.