Masterthesis concerning listening and listening intentions

 

master-frontpageFor any hard-core listeners out there: I said I would post more about listening intentions.

My initial interest in listening and listening intentions started while writing my master thesis at the Conservatory of music in Oslo where I was introduced to the subject Aural Sonology, developed and taught by the two composers Lasse Thoresen and Olav Anton Tommesen.

This masterthesis focuses on form-awareness and investigates why this is an important skill for students aiming at a career as performing musicians. The world-famous composer Wilhelm Fürtwängler once emphasised the importance for any performer to be completely aware of what he or she is “saying” when trying to communicate a message, whether it be music or language.

The core term of this thesis is “organic form”. In short, organic form is a form concept where each musical work is seen as an integrated, organic whole. This means that all the parts of the composition needs to relate to the other parts as the parts of a living organism would relate to each other: changing one effects all the others. This has far-reaching consequences in the field of performative choices as each musical work is a unique universe where we as performers are constantly invoking a multitude of butterfly-effects for each new musical choice we make.

The thesis is based on an analytical system known as aural sonology, a system where the object of the analysis is the aural aspect of the music as opposed to the written score. Therefore a large part of the thesis is concerned with the topic of listening and different kind of theories concerning listening intentions. These subjects can be found under the heading 1.2 Concerning Sonology and Aural Sonology.

The main part of the thesis is given over to a detailed analysis of three compositions: Black Angels by George Crumb, The Lady of Shalott by Bent Sørensen and Solve et Coagula by Rolf wallin.

Towards the end, in the appendix there is also an interview with each of the three composers.

 ………

 Denne Masteroppgaven tar for seg begrepet form-forståelse og ser spesielt på hvorfor dette er en viktig type forståelse for studenter som studerer til å bli utøvende musikere. Den verdensberømte dirigenten Wilhelm Furtwängler fremhevet at det å videreformidle mening kun var mulig når dét man formidlet stemte overens med ens egen forståelse. For å kunne formidle noe må vi selv som formidlere vite hva det er vi sier og forstå det til bunns.

Hvert musikalske verk er et unikt univers hvor vi som utøvere konstant setter i gang sommerfugleffekter for hvert musikalske valg vi tar. Velger vi å dra ut starten på en musikalsk frase må vi hente inn energien vi har brukt fra et annet sted senere. Dette er hva vi kaller Organisk form i musikk. Det medfører at vi betrakter et hvert musikkverk som en integrert enhet hvor hver del forholder seg til hverandre som delene i en levende organism. Hver enkelt del har sin klart definerte rolle og står i et spesielt forhold til de andre delene. Dette skaper et logisk forhold mellom de enkelte delene og gjør at musikken får et mer helhetlig preg over seg.

I oppgaven min benytter jeg meg av et analysesystem basert på emnet aural sonologi som har med musikkforståelse basert på musikk slik den klinger i motsetning til musikkanalyse basert på det musikalske notebildet. Oppgaven inneholder også intervjuer med komponistene George Crumb, Bent Sørensen og Rolf Wallin og er sentrert rundt tre verk av disse komponistene: G. Crumbs Black Angels, B. Sørensens The lady of Shalott og R. Wallins Solve et Coagula.

 

Read the thesis here  / Les oppgaven her:

The development of formawareness by means of aural sonology

Listening intentions part 1: It is all about attitude

Nameless sounds
In the last post I promise to talk a little bit about listening intentions. The background for this term is found in the development of the electroacoustic music in the late 1940s. With the electroacoustic music composers and musicians were faced with a brand-new sound-world, the world of recorded sounds, which, for the time being, lacked a terminology.

In order to talk about music you need words to name the different parts of it. In traditional music there is a wealth of terminology for elements such as pitch, rhythm, timbre, dynamics and tone which can all be used in order to put our experience of the music into words. But what happens when you are suddenly given a new set of toys which gives you the possibility to create sounds that does not fit into the previous models of what we consider “music”? What terms do you use for the sound of ice being crunched under a boot? Or a keychain hitting a sement floor? Or the drumming of train wheels hitting iron rails?

Have a try yourself: what words would you use to describe what you have just heard?

The clip you have (maybe) just heard were made by Pierre Schaeffer, creator of the phenomenon Musique Concrete, you can read more about that here .P schaeffer In addition to composing with recorded sounds Schaeffer also sought a way to analyze and talk about this strange new sound-world. The noise-loving Composer s approach to the music was a typical phenomenological one, meaning that he sought to describe and reflect upon the sound-experiences rather than to explain them. The main focus was: how to name the new nameless sounds within the music. In Norway this approach was continued within the Aural Sonology Project at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo led by the two composers Lasse Thoresen (a great Norwegian composer whom I was lucky enough to have as my mentor when I wrote my Master thesis at the conservatory) and Olav Anton Thommesen.

The Frenchman François Delalande took this research a step further. While Schaeffer’s main interest was the musical objects themselves and how to name them, Delalande was more interested in music appreciation in general. Through interviews with listeners he identified six types of reception behaviour or what we might call listening intentions. Through his research he found evidence that a listener might favour a specific listening intention regardless of the type of music he or she listens to. At the same time through experiments it became obvious that a person’s listening intentions might be “open for negotiations”, in other words: we ourselves have the ability to change them.

So what is needed in order to make a conscious choice in the way we listen?

Change your perception – change your world
Two things.

One: that we have knowledge of the fact that there are different listening intentions available,
and two: that we are able to make a specific change in our everyday way of perception. Now this change is concerned with how we perceive things in general, not only music.

Every day we experience the world through our senses, from the touch of a door handle and the sight of a view to the scent of a flower. These experiences are a natural result of having functional senses and living in the world of today. We respond to these experiences in different ways: speaking of them, acting or reacting upon them. They might trigger emotional responses of different kinds in us (some things might appear attractive, others things repellent) and the reasons for these different responses might be more or less subconscious.

Within the subject of phenomenology this way of perception is called the Natural Attitude. It might seem strange that this natural way of experiencing the world might be called an “attitude” but the reason is that there exists another way, another “attitude” towards reality.

As humans we have the possibility of not only having a sensory experience, but at the same time to take a “step back” and watch ourselves have the experience and reflect upon how the experience affects us. Instead of simply smelling the flower I observe myself smelling the flower and at the same time I observe how “I” react to the smell.blomster This is called the Phenomenological Attitude and when moving into this attitude we become philosophers and mystics reflecting upon everything that presents itself to us instead of merely acting upon it (be it the smell of a flower, our own stream of thoughts during meditation or a piece of music).

Fascinating!

Yes, but I don’t like that kind of music
A subject´s way of listening is a highly personal and individual matter. 100 people might be listening to the same performance and each of them might experience a unique reaction towards what they have just heard. Each of these experiences are equally valid and important to the person experiencing it.

The point of listening intentions is not to enable us to give the “correct” interpretation of a piece of music but rather to open up different routes into the music. Either consciously or subconsciously a lot of people might have a tendency to think: “the music has to be in a particular way for me to be able to enjoy it“. A more uncommon idea is that maybe “I” as a listener have to listen in a certain way in order to be able to fully experience music of this particular kind.

As I mentioned earlier: listening is not a natural gift that follows the ability to hear, but rather an acquired skill that must be honed in order to be developed. So, as we have just talked about: what is needed is the right attitude (the phenomenological one) and a wee bit of knowledge concerning listening intentions. So here goes:

Selected listening intentions according to Delalande
Lastly in this blog post we are going to look at one of Mr Delalande’s listening intentions. The others will follow in a later post. I’m going to present you with a specific type of listening intention that is very common among musicians.

#Taxonomic listening
Taxonomic listening is concerned with form and analysis. In this type of listening intention we focus on the abstract music itself and the architecture within it. For musicians the knowledge of musical form (i.e. the structure or plan along which a piece of music is constructed) is essential both in analysis and in performance.

sonataform

When we adopt a taxonomic listening intention we recognise and subtract parts of the music, we compare it to other parts and we look for an overall shape or logical form.

How do you convey meaning through music? In the beginning the meaning of music was mainly conveyed through its text but from around 1700 instrumental music had developed to a great degree and musical forms was beginning to replace text as the meaning conveyor. The concert audiences at this time in history were mainly from the upper classes of European society as concerts at this time were not yet a public spectacle. People from the upper classes were often given a general tuition by house-teachers which consisted among other things of knowledge of literature and music.

Today taxonomic listening is not that normal among listeners except by those who have had a musical education. During the classical period however, (a musical period primarily associated with the names of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven) the taxonomic listening perspective was somewhat of a standard as audiences discussed and took delight in discovering and observing a comprehensible musical landscape organised according to general musical forms; forms which were recognised by everybody at the time who listened seriously to music.

Natural limits
Of course, in order for this type of listening to be possible it is often necessary that the music fulfil certain criteria. The composer Arnold Schoenberg once said:

“To be concerned with form is taking into account man’s limited powers of understanding; as he is unable to keep in mind very long time stretches, the musical discourse must be subdivided into manageable segments. However, these shorter segments must again be joined to the others in such a way that one segment presupposes the other and vice versa (…).”

For those of you who got stuck in the part about “man’s limited powers of understanding” no, this is not meant as an insult, it merely points to the fact that all of us are in the possession of a short-term memory which, being short-term, has certain limitations: it has an upper limit of 7 objects at a time, give or take a few (this is why we always memorize 0ur phone number like this: 122 33 455 instead of like this: 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 ).

When using a taxonomic listening intention our short-term memory is actively at work. In the standard diagram of the sonata form shown above the principal subject is repeated in the recapitulation. In order for me to experience that I need to be able to remember the principal subject, and it is the composer’s responsibility to make sure that I do. How does he do this? By making sure that it is, in the words of Schoenberg, “manageable” (i.e. short enough) and by repeating it.

Just look at the beginning of Beethoves 5th Symphony and you get the picture. That motif and that theme sticks

5th_symphony

It is however are also possible to use a taxonomic listening intention in the encounter of more modern music.

In the 1960s composers like Penderecki and Ligeti came up with a kind of music unlike anything ever heard before. This was music as mass, as process, as development. All ideas of motif and themes were discarded in favour of gigantic constructions of sound, often built by adding layer upon layer of voices a quarter tone apart.

But still, even if we don’t have any recognisable themes or motifs it is still possible to listen to this kind of music with a taxonomic intention. We will take a quick tour through this great and terrible piece of music. Keep an eye on the timer and look at the points below:

  • From the beginning at 00:07 – a static layer is developed by adding more and more voices.
  • At 00:23 the intensity receides and the layer is given a more flexible and moving texture as the strings start playing tremolos instead of repeated static pitches.
  • At 00:43 there is a sharp break as the middle part of the mass is drawn back and we are left with a thin sliver of sound in the upper and lower register forming a shimmering frame.
  • Then, at 00:55 a new layer slowly developes within this frame, one whose texture is more chaotic, uneven and rough, consisting of percussive sounds and sliding. squeeking noises. Gradually these noises are increased by adding more and more voices from the thin static frames until they form a complete tapestry of writhing mass which increases until it abruptly ends at 01:57.
  • 01:57 Now we are left with a static ribbon of sound which is slowly streached in both directions like a piece of wet cloth before it recedes again.
  • At 02:08 a new ribbon is introduced, this one also spreading out like aquarell paint diluted in water. And so on and so on….

I do not know how this works in writing but I have used this sort of guided listening at lectures and it seemed to give people a sense of this kind of form-and-structure-listening that taxonomic listening intention is all about. Personally this is one of my favourite ways of listening but then I am a bit of a structure-maniac who always loved geometry in school…

Interested in more? The next post will be about Emphatic and Figurative listening intentions.

Listening intentions, sound-pollution and singing tapestries

L1020411

The SoundscapeIn an earlier post on this blog I mentioned the book “The Soundscape” by Canadian composer and writer R. Murray Schafer. The word “soundscape”, one of Schafer’s designs, is used to describe our sonic environment, all of the everyday sounds which surrounds us in our lives. Schafer talks about how these soundscapes have changed as a result of our ever-changing society. The sonic onslaught of the Industrial Revolution, and the ever-spreading urbanisation of the world forever altered our natural sonic surroundings, filling them up with ever more sounds, both pleasurable and otherwise.

Schafer looks at how these soundscapes have become ever more denser, no longer linked to the natural rhythms of day and night but stretching our borders of consciousness along with our waking hours. Last but not least the author investigates how these our soundscapes affect us and how we adapt to them by different means. It should come as no surprise that Schafer bears no love for our current sonic environment, in fact, the term he uses is “ sound-pollution”.

I dare say many will agree with him. People of today, at least those living in an urban environment, have come to depend on different kinds of filters. From the simple earplugs which we use in order to get a good night sleep dispite the screaming todler next door øreproppto the kind we use to lock ourselves into our own private bubble of sound:earphones

(often used on the subways and buses in order to shield ourselves from other people’s attempt to shield themselves from other people´s attempt to….)

Musical tapestries
Music has gradually changed from being an object of focus to being a screen which allows us to focus on something else. In the year 1917 the composer Erik Satie coined the term furniture music (a slightly more literal translation would be furnishing music ) which at the time were background music meant to be played by live performers. Satie only used this term on four smal pieces of Music, as in: 1. Tapisserie en fer forgé (“Tapestry in forged iron” – for the arrival of the guests (grand reception) – to be played in a vestibule – Movement: Very rich) but the term has since stayed, evolving into our present-day “beloved” shopping mall- phenomenon: Muzak

Eric Satie Yuri Khanon Vospominania zadnim cislom
I’m not sure that Satie really knew what he was unleashing with these humorous notions. But what is certainly true is that music has gradually become one of our most readily available filters shielding us from the steadily increasing chaos of our present sonic environments.

Earplugs – for better or for worse?

“For the listener who wears earplugs are very LOUD performance is the best” – J. Levinson

The American philosopher J. Levinson gives here his rather humorous contribution to the topic of filters. Levinson addresses the notion of “inner” earplugs, the sort of conscious and unconscious filtering which we all make use of during our day. Chatting with a good friend in a cafe on a Saturday afternoon would be a completely hopeless task unless we were able to effectively sift out and ignore parts of the surrounding mayhem of hissing coffee machines, loud chattering, background music, screaming babies, revving cars and blaring cellphones.

Our ability to pick out the voice of our friend from all of these surrounding sounds is part of the same ability our brain uses when it filters away the parts of our reality which it deems not strictly necessary for us at the moment. Without this ability we would all quickly die of mental overload. This is more or less an unconscious act on our brains part. However, interesting things might happen when we try to challenge this natural inclination in ourselves.

The reason for doing this is simple: most of the time this filtering ability protects us from a very real danger of mental overload but just as many times a filter might have been created for a specific reason: as protection against a situation long gone. It might have been a reaction to a situation which we once found threatening or invasive but even if the situation now has changed the filter might still be in place.

The standard word for this mechanism is prejudice.

Today we are however following a different trail: that of Listening. There is a very important difference between hearing something and listening to something. Hearing is a purely physical process which happens automatically provided that we have the necessary physiological components. Listening, on the other hand, demands a change of attitude from passive receptor to active observer.

Hearing versus Listening

“To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also”         – Igor Stravinsky

The most important ingredient when turning from hearing to listening is intent. Intent is the tool with which we are made masters of ourselves. With it we reach into the world around us with a clear purpose.

At this point it is tempting to diverging into a long philosophical discussion but to keep (at least a little bit) in line with the topic of this blog I will instead turn to Listening Intentions, a term used to denote the kind of intent or different attitudes with which we might approach a piece of music.

L1020411The ever-changing experience
The famous proverb about not being able to step into the same river twice could apply just as easily to music: it is never possible to listen to the same piece of music twice. Of course a work of music can never be performed identically twice but the point here is that even listening to a recorded piece of music will yield two different experiences as we as listeners will be at different mental stages or in different places when we hear them.

Our attitude towards what we hear changes what we hear. Therefore by changing our listening attitude or our listening intent we can change our experience of the Music.

Still with me? In the next post I will take you by the ear and we will enter the wonderous land of listening intensions. It is well worth a visit..

Tensegrity, tango and giant bridges

Question: What does a tango dancer, a giant bridge and a geodesic dome have in common?

Answer: They are all subject to the same laws of physics pertaining to a specific kind of principle that I wish to talk about here.

Tango dancers have feet. Feet are basically foundations  and speaking about foundations it is tempting to move into the world of  construction and architecture, a world in which a solid foundation is invaluable.  The foundation is  the point from which everything else is decided.  It dictates the later possibilities, construction wise, of whatever is to be resting upon that foundation. We are talking about forces of physics here, of thrust and counter thrust, ground force reaction, balance and integrity of structure.

tensegrity-architecture-30-620x503

No one in their right mind would ever build a pyramid upside down (except perhaps in the world of Walt Disney where there was a story once where Scrooge was searching for an upside-down pyramid balancing on a giant diamond in the middle of the jungle). No matter how fascinating balance might be, in construction we tend to prefer stable objects which are able to carry their weight and distribute the forces of what is resting upon them in an even way.

When the foundation crumbles the results are often disastrous as might be seen in the collapsed sweatshops in some Asian countries. For a building to be solid a good foundation is a requirement. At the same time the forces working inwardly in the structure are equally importent. Enter the term Tensegrity

Tensegrity as a term is coined out of the two words tensional integrity. The man who created the term, Buckminster Fuller, used it to relate to a principle of engineering used in architecture describing structures in which the tension between the different parts of a structure make up the main supporting principle of it and not the individual strength or mass of each part.

In other words: the synergy of tension and compression distributed between the different parts of the structure is used actively in order to create structures that are both lighter, stronger and more stable than one would think possible. For instance the Kurilpa Bridge in Australia:

kurilpa_bridge_01

Notice how none of the poles are actually touching each other?

Here is an example of a building created on such principles. What you’re looking at is an example of a geodesic dome. For more info on these structures look here.

800px-Mtl__Biosphere_in_Sept__2004

and here is a second example of how these principles might be used in creating beauty:

Tens.rainbow_arch

Okay, so what is the connection between all of these incredible structures and the trials and tribulations of a tango dancer?

And the answer is:

Tensegrity!

Our bodies are in fact tensegrity structures, highly complex and balanced organisms where each part is dependent on the other in order to function correctly. Just as the poles and cables distribute stress and compression through a tensegrity bridge, our skeleton, muscles, sinews and last but not least our connective tissue make up a structure of mutually dependent elements were forces of tension and compression are distributed in an evenly manner.

Or so at least we would wish.

But unfortunately this is not always the case. Unlike a bridge we humans have a mind of our own and that mind is often occupied in adapting to a society and an environment less than ideally suited to our bodies and their needs. We have a highly developed ability to adapt ourselves to our surroundings, especially when there is pleasure involved.

Invaluable props

tangoskoAs tango consists of a lot of pivoting movements high heeled shoes has long been the mantra as it often is necessary to be on one’s toes. In this way the foundation of our axis (the central line of balance through our body from feet to head) is a small as possible. This makes it possible for us to twirl and do things like this (check out the twirls at 3.13 and onwards):

The price we pay, however, is high. Burning forefeet, bunions, hallux valgus or similar deformations of the foot causing pain and eventually diminished range of motion in the feet. Our heel bone is more than capable of carrying the weight of our body. The small bones in our  forefoot and toes on the other hand have less of this capability. They are not designed to carry the amount of weight that we stack upon them when our heels forces our entire bodymass forward hoovering above our toes which for the moment are trapped inside a beautiful pair of thight, pointy shoes.

hallux

In addition to that the heels underneath our “heels” tilts our body out of alignment making it necessary for the muscles in our calves, thighs, hips, back and shoulders to compensate in order to keep us in a vertical position.

Remember that tensegrity bridge from earlier? What do you think would happen if we removed one of those poles or slackened one of the wires? Would you be willing to cross it?

The tensegrity system of our body is based on our alignment without high heeled shoes strapped under our feet. In a way the heel acts as an additional pole adding an element of instability into our perfectly balanced structure. Unlike the bridge our bodies are able to compensate for this instability, the cost, however, is often high.

So what if you are unable to give up your heels, what if tango and the experience of twirling around on 10 inch heels is the one thing that keeps you (literally) up?

The next best solution

First of all: the awareness of what we are doing to our body and our feet is an important knowledge which might help us at least not to treat our feet as if they were made of titanium. They are (hopefully) going to last a lifetime so a little atention is not to much of a request.

Secondly: have you ever seen those artists that paints or play the piano with their feet and toes? The feet that they use are no different from yours except that they have been forced to use them actively instead of just shoving them into tight, unyielding shoes every day.

The good news: your feet are adaptable, exercises and stretches actually work so with no further ado here are two recommendations:

The MELT method by Sue Hitzman. This is a training programme including, among other things, small rubber balls and rubber bands of different texture and firmness used to work and manipulate the connective tissue in the feet and hands. A regular workout with these or just having a little session after each late night on the dancefloor does not seem much but has a surprising effect.

For anyone interested I recommend this link in checking it out. The kit costs about  $40 and is worth every cent.

Then there is the invaluable book “Every woman’s guide to foot pain relief” by bio-mechanist Katy Bowman, a true “Bible” when it comes to foot health and a great insight into how your feet are designed to work and exercises in order to make your feet feel a lot more happy. This goes far beyond giving yourself a little footrub now and then. At the moment Timani-founder Tina Margarete Nilsson is teaching a course based on, among other things, principles and excersises from this book in Oslo. If you did not make it then you still have the chance of buying this book

K bowmanand as always: buy it at Bookdepository.com. Great online bookstore with great prices and free shipping to Norway and a lot of other countries!

also: check out Katy Bowmans blog here for more info on feet and foothealth in general.

Interested in knowing more about the tensegrity of your body and how to play with it in stead of against it? Try a lesson in Timani! I am currently giving lessons for 200,- NOK as part of my sertification this spring. Read more about it on my webpage here (only in Norwegian for the time being..)

Propriosepsjonen – vår sjette sans

Propriosepsjon – kroppens GPS

Propriosepsjon eller Dypsensitivitet som den også kalles er vår kropps evne til, ubevisst, å vite hvor alle delene vi består av til enhver tid befinner seg i forhold til hverandre. Et enkelt eksempel: Hold hånden din under bordplaten så du ikke er i stand til å se den og vift tilfeldig med fingrene. Stans bevegelsene og se om du kan danne deg et bilde i hodet av den nåværende håndstillingen din uten å se den. Ta så hånden frem og se om bildet i hodet ditt stemmer med den faktiske håndstillingen. Det er en stor sjanse for at den gjør det.

“So what”, tenker du kanskje, “det er da en selvfølge?” Nei , det er merkelig nok ikke det men vi er så vant til denne sansen at vi sjelden tenker over den og hva for en enormt detaljert oppgave det egentlig er å ha denne konstante oversikten over bevegelsesapparatet vårt. Hvis du ønsker å vite hvordan det kjennes når Propriosepsjonen ikke fungerer som den skal: drikk deg god og full. Den øvelsen som trafikkpolitiet utsetter de for som de mistenker for fyllekjøring (lukk øynene og sett fingertuppen på nesetippen) er lett i edru tilstand men ikke fullt så lett med alkohol innabords. Da svekkes propriosepsjonen vår og har ikke lenger full oversikt over hvor de ulike delene av kroppen vår befinner seg. Dermed blir det også vanskelig å koordinere bevegelser, spesielt hvis vi tar bort synet. I tillegg forsvinner ting som balanseevne siden propriosepsjonen også (i pre-alkoholpåvirket tilstand) holder oversikt over hvor kroppen din befinner seg i forhold til verden omkring deg. For eksempel underlaget du står på.

Et ekstremt eksempel kan leses om her hvor en kvinne deler hvordan det er å leve uten leddsans, altså uten mulighet til å kjenne sine egne ledd og deres stilling. Denne historien forteller om konsekvensene av ikke å kunne kjenne hvor dine egne lemmer befinner seg, alt fra knusing av pappdrikkeglass fordi man ikke kjenner sitt egen greps styrke til å våkne i sengen uten å vite hvor hendene dine befinner seg før du er i stand til å se dem.

Ledd og lyspærer

Propriosepsjon er en sans som fortsatt er omsluttet av et slør av mystikk. Vi vet at den er avhengig av sensoriske signaler fra hud, muskler og ledd og fra reseptorer i disse. LYSPRE~1Når det kommer til leddene våre så spiller stillingen på leddet en stor rolle for hvor godt propriosepsjonen vår kan oppfatte hvor vi er plassert.

Hvis vi tenker oss at vi skal skru en lyspære inn i en lampekontakt så vet alle som har prøvd det hvor viktig vinkelen er for at ikke gjengene skal låse seg. Leddene våre er litt på samme måten: de er ment å være korrekt sentrerte, det vil si at knokkelen og leddskålen som  til sammen danner ett ledd har en “defult-plassering” i forhold til hverandre som er perfekt for at det skal kunne fungere slik det er ment.

Hvis de to ikke er korrekt plassert vil også signalet som sendes fra reseptorene i leddet bli feil.

Nok et illustrerende eksempel: still deg opp foran et speil og ta en titt på føttene dine. Mest sannsynlig vil du se at føttene dine har en varierende grad av utadrotasjon, altså at de er vridd ut til siden. Lukk nå øynene og be en annen person hjelpe deg å vri føttene dine innover slik at de peker rett fremover. Når vedkommende sier at du er plassert rett: kjenn etter hvordan det føles. Klarer du å få et mentalt bilde av stillingen din i hodet ditt uten å titte i et speil? Hvordan ser dette bildet ut? Åpne øynene og sjekk om bildet stemmer med virkeligheten.

Det de aller fleste opplever er at bildet i hodet deres forteller dem at de står med innadroterte føtter, altså at føttene peker fremover i en spiss. De aller fleste vil også bli overrasket over at dette faktisk IKKE er tilfelle.

Så hva forteller det oss? Vi vet at propriosepsjonen er den sansen som gjør oss i stand til å vite hvor de ulike delene av kroppen vår befinner seg og nå forteller den oss at vi står med innad roterte føtter mens speilbildet vårt viser noe annet. Uansett hvor viktig det ellers kan vært å lytte til kroppen vår er det i dette tilfelle lurt å stole på speilet..

Propriosepsjonen vår er altså ikke ufeilbarlig, det vil si: den kan “trenes” opp til å gi oss feil informasjon og denne “treningen” er det vi selv som står for. Gjentatt feil belastning av kroppen gjør at ledd og knokler tilpasser seg nye arbeisstillinger av nødvendighet. Nye stillinger fører til feil-sentrerte ledd. Feil-sentrerte ledd gir feil signal til propriosepsjonen vår. Propriosepsjonen vår sender feil tilbakemelding om hvor kroppen vår befinner seg.

Hvorfor er dette viktig for en musiker?

Riktig bruk av bevegelsesapparatet vårt er avhengig av at vi vet hvor dette apparatet befinner seg. Hvis vi skal jobbe med å korrigere en belastende spillestilling er det umulig å gjøre dette før vi er klar over at denne stillingen delvis opprettholdes av propriosepsjonen vår som har vent seg til at dette er korrekt stilling.

Dette er også en forklaring på at å endre arbeidsstilling tar tid og krever et grundig arbeid. Det hjelper ikke å ta en titt i speilet og korrigere seg selv slik at det ytre bildet matcher “idealet”. Her er det snakk om et helhetlig samspill mellom dyp muskulatur, bindevev, balansering av skjelett og en nevrologisk opptrening som lar endringen komme som et resultat av at de ulike delene av kroppen vår får gjøre sine oppgaver i fred. Oppgaver de var ment å gjøre.

En måte å trene opp og arbeide med dette på er å ta kontakt med en Timani-veileder.

Vil du lese mer om propriosepsjon er denne en fin liten intro.

Belastningsskader – musikerens svøpe

Krum hånd sidelengsBelastningsskader til besvær
Undersøkelser som bl.a. er gjort ved Norges Musikkhøgskole i Oslo viser at til tider så mye som 40% av elevene sliter med belastningsskader mens andelen blant profesjonelle er enda høyere. Smak på det tallet en gang til: 40%… 40% som  opplever alt fra mildt, moderat ubehag i etterkant av øving og spilling til såpass store muskulære problemer at operasjon og sykemelding er eneste løsning. Dette er en stor påkjenning for studenter som har investert betydelig tid, gjerne fra tidlig alder, på øving. En utdannelse til toppmusiker krever et betydelig antall øvingstimer og en streng prioritering for å nå profesjonelt nivå. Andre ting må prioriteres bort og det blir ofte ikke mange timer til overs for andre fag å kunne “falle tilbake på” hvis kroppen senere skulle vise seg å svikte. Utdannelsen er i så måte et risikoprosjekt og studenten vet dette; fallet ved en brått avkuttet utdannelse kan bli stort. Det er hardt å ha investert enormt i å følge en pasjon bare for å se drømmen kuttet tvert av pga senebetennelser og andre uhumskheter.

Quick-fix-løsninger
Det skorter ikke på tilbud og behandlinger når kroppen først har gått i vranglås, fra fysioterapi, naprapati, akupunktur og osteopati til betennelsesdempende medikamenter og i verste fall operasjon. De fleste kan merke bedring men for svært mange er endringen kortvarig, ganske enkelt fordi belastningen oppstår i spillesituasjonen som utøveren jo har som mål å opprettholde så mye som mulig. Musikere er med rette blitt sammenlignet med idrettsutøvere da man har sett at det som foregår av signalutveksling mellom hjerne og muskler på finmotorikkplanet hos en pianist tilsvarer svært avanserte og energikrevende prestasjoner hos en toppidrettsutøver. Men der det blant toppidrettsutøvere i dag gjerne gis en utdannelse hvor kroppen betraktes som et instrument og innsikten i hvordan den fungerer, fra blodomløp og muskelbruk til forbrenning er en viktig del av utdannelsen har de fleste musikere så godt som ingen innsikt i hvordan deres viktigste instrument, kroppen, fungerer.

Riktignok får mange musikere fysioterapi-veiledede treningsopplegg i forbindelse med spillerelaterte problemer, treningsopplegg som i seg selv kan være nødvendige og riktige men som allikevel ikke er tilstrekkelig for å løse problemene.

Tyngdekraften – utfordrer nr 1
I fag som idrettsfysiologi og bio-mekanikk ser man på hvordan biologisk materiale (altså en menneskelig organisme) responderer når den utsettes for mekaniske krefter som trykk, tyngdekraft og vekt. Vi lever i en fysisk virkelighet hvor vi hele tiden er under påvirkning av en spesifikk kraft: tyngdekraften. I alt vi gjør og alle bevegelser vi utfører blir vi påvirket av denne kraften og selve formen på kroppen vår er styrt av hvordan vi forholder oss til den.

Den bærende strukturen i kroppen vår er skjelettet vårt. På engelsk viser begrepet “Alignment” til hvordan balanseringen av de ulike delene av kroppen vår er avgjørende for at kroppen vår skal kunne fungere optimalt. Kort fortalt handler det om hvordan de ulike delene av kroppen vår er “stablet”. Hvis denne “stablingen” er godt balansert er musklene våre frie til å gjøre oppgavene sine i samarbeid med bindevevet vårt (Mer om bindevevets utrolige egenskaper senere. Hvis du ikke klarer å vente så ta en titt på denne artikkelen.)

Hvis ikke må vi kompensere med å bruke andre deler av kroppen som bærende element og da er det først og fremst musklene vi griper til.

Unike og spesialiserte kropper
Hver eneste menneskekropp er unik. En kropp responderer på hva den næres med, hvordan den brukes og hva slags ytre belastninger og omgivelser den utsettes for. Kroppen vår er også en helhetlig organisme; belastning av én del påvirker alle de andre delene. Vi er født med et differensiert muskelsystem hvor de enkelte delene har hver sin tiltenkte rolle. Hvis én del ikke får utøve sin rolle må en annen del kompensere og gjøre jobben, en jobb den ikke er skapt for. Dette er svært ofte grunnlaget for belastningsskader. Derfor handler ikke det å trene seg opp etter en belastningsskade om bare å bli sterkere fysisk sett men om å lære å bruke det komplekse “instrumentet” som en kropp er. Det vil si å benytte de ulike delene til rett tid, i rett situasjon og på rett måte.

Rett muskeltype til rett tid
I kroppen vår har vi ulike muskeltyper som har sine spesialområder, litt som et team av eksperter med hver sin spesialitet. De kan gjøre andre ting også men deres styrke ligger hovedsakelig på et felt. Et av “teamene” er spesielt flinke til å gi støtte og tåle langvarig belastning. For å kunne holde en fiolin opp mot halsen i flere timer i strekk er disse musklene uvurderlige. Kjennetegnet deres er at de som regel ligger dypt inn i kroppen nær knoklene våre.

Et annet team har som spesialitet å skape kortvarig kraft og styrke. Disse finner vi ofte i de ytre lagene av kroppen vår og det er gjerne disse vi læres opp til å fokusere på under trening (biceps, triceps, rette magemuskler etc).

Problemene oppstår når ett team overtar oppgavene til et annet, som når fiolinisten bruker bicepsmuskelen sin til å holde armen oppe i 10 timer hver dag på øverommet. Overkompensasjon er nøkkelordet her og det leder nesten alltid til belastningsskader.

9 80x56(Et lite sannsynlig scenario, rent fysiologisk sett. En bodybuilder av denne dimmen ville antakelig ha kollapset lenge før han klarte å gjennomføre en hel fiolinkonsert. Bildet er lånt i takknemlighet fra kunstprosjektet Muz:art av fotograf Ole Rasmus Jørgensen som portretterte Oslo filharmonien i nye og fantasifulle settinger. For mer om dette prosjektet se her )

En annen ting vi er avhengige av er korrekt propriosepsjon. Proprio-hva? Mer i neste post.

Timani – kroppslytting som en tilnærming til spilling

Hånd på klaviaturUnder kategoriene Timani og Body listening vil jeg i tiden fremover poste litt om et system jeg utdanner meg innenfor.

Timani handler om å etablere en bevisst fysisk og nevrologisk kontakt med kropp og spilleapparat. I Timani er fokuset vårt, som i lytting, rettet både utover og innover. Å skrive om dette i en blogg som skal omhandle bevisst lytting er derfor ikke så ulogisk. Disse bloggpostene vil bli skrevet på norsk da jeg hovedsakelig henvender meg til det norske markedet av brukere. Forhåpentligvis vil det senere dukke opp muligheter for enkelte engelske oversettelser.

I intend to in the future, under the categories of Timani and Body listening , to write a little bit about an education I am currently undertaking.

Timani is about establishing conscious physical and neurological contact  with your body and your entire system of movement.  In Timani  as in listening , our focus is turned both inwards and outwards so writing about this in a blog that is supposed to be about conscious listenin. doesn’t seem too far-fetched.  The blog posts will be written in Norwegian as I hopefully will be addressing  my future market of users, but hopefully I will be able to add some English translations later on.