To be touched by music


My thoughts on being touched by music.


This was an assignment in a course in esthetics.


I will briefly discuss how I get touched by music.



In the first semester of my master studies, I collaborated with a dancer. We worked to develop a platform for us to improvise on.

It happened at times, sometimes for only a fraction of a second and sometimes for several minutes, that we felt there was no obstacle between us. During these events communication flowed freely, it was for me like I was playing with a clone of myself and the result was perceived very properly and naturally when we studied the video footage we did.

When we think back on the creation of these stretches, it is often that we do not quite remember what we did, I believe this may indicate that all of our focus was in the conduct and communication.

To provoke these moments, which I see as an ultimate music experience, quickly becomes a little artificial because the concept to provoke something natural is contradictory. Nevertheless, after several hours of exercises and interactions, this occurs more frequently. This probably indicates both that we are becoming more familiar with each others expression and that we are more in agreement about what we as a team want to express. But it also results in that we try to re-create such moments from earlier, then it loses much value to us, but it might feel like it happened there and than for an audience seeing us for the first time?

Sometimes, performing can affected me in a positive sense, but when I look at the recording I don’t get the same feeling. The opposite may also happen: I do not feel much when I perform, but it touches me when I listen to it. Therefore I have chosen to divide this reflection into two categories: “To be touched when performing” and “To be touched when listening”:

To be touched when performing:

Being touched when I perform usually involves that I feel the communication between me and the other practitioners as a completely free flow without obstruction, or that the music’s progression is moving to places I did not know about. In these situations, I am not aware of what I play, but know that it is correct. If I try to analyze what I do, everything pretty much falls together, so this situation often requires that all focus is on the overall outcome of the audiovisual performance, not on what I’m doing as an individual.

To be touched when listening:

One of the factors that touches me when listening to music is when I feel that the musicians performing it are being touched by their own performance. When I see they do not show off their technical skills or are trying to hard to make things work, that they with no effort make the music they know so well or is being produced at that moment. These ideas somehow reflects the ideas presented in the book “Effortless mastery” by Kenny Werner. (Werner 1996).

Another factor that touches me when listening, both to live and recorded music is when I get surprised by the progression in the music or that innovative chances are made and the result takes the piece to a new level.

It also touches me when sounds I have never heard before, or never in the context of music appear. Or when something happens that I cannot explain, be it rhythmically, harmonically or texturally.

This might be a curse for many music students, that we are so used to analyzing the music that we don’t manage to listen without interest to the overall outcome of the music and thereby not enjoying it to the same extent as one not trained in the school of music.


As you see what touches me is basically when I discover something new or when I feel there is a free flow between the musicians mind and the musical outcome.

Sometimes I get touched both by performing and by listening to the performance afterwards, or more frequently I will not be touched by either of the occasions. It is probably the first example that has to be pursued. Nevertheless, it depends very much upon the circumstances and other external factors.

Is there something that touches everyone always? That must be what we define as “good music”.

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