Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Joachim-Ernst Berendt

German Music Journalist, Author on Music and Hearing

"Both inner and outer hearing, which cannot be separated, change consciousness to a greater extent than anything else in our eye-orientated age."

"All happiness involves achieving oneness."

"Listening brings about intensity. The greatest intensity - as experienced in love - is that of becoming one... Seeing is not possible without separating into subject and object. Someone listening, however, takes in, dissolving separation. Hearing disperses 'isolation'."

"Music is only art in time in a superficial sense. Viewed more profoundly it is the art of surmounting time in time."

"The earth is bathed in music... The drive towards 'synchonicity' and harmony is elemental and universal so it becomes comprehensible that the 'hidden' harmony within ourselves provides us with the strength to find the 'hidden' harmony in the cosmos and universe. The more 'chaotic' and 'atonal' the cluster, the more quickly the harmony develops. Disharmony is a springboard fostering the harmony within ourselves."

"The fact that the eye constantly thrusts outwards distracts us from self-knowledge and the way inwards. It dissipates attention... The eye says I. We sense when someone is looking at us. Their gaze insists: Pay attention to me! Almost everyone is also aware of that when the observer is standing behind us. We notice after a while. Someone is there. Who is it? Who would not, however, know if someone were listening to us if he or she did not say so. The listener does not put the emphasis on himself or event the other person. He does not insist on a separation between subject and object. The ear establishes a 'more correct' relationship between ourselves and others. It implies unity rather than division. Eye and ear need one another. Ear and eye are not alternatives."

"The eye can only compare and estimate; the ear measures... Both the ear and the eye can evaluate, supplying us with intellectual, psychological, and emotional information of qualitative relevance. But only the ear can measure, thereby mediating quantitative and numerically precise information. If the eye wants to operate quantitatively it can at most estimate, but - as we all know - it is only able to provide approximations, and very often miscalculates. That is why the term 'optical illusion' exists in our language."

"The world is a single whole. Everything is linked with everything else. The world 'sounds'. It is a 'chord'. The imagination and freedom necessary for feeling, experiencing, and living through - rather than merely knowing - these are more likely to be associated with an ana-logical process of perception than with logical thinking. Logic aims at security. The ana-logician has the courage to embark on risk and adventure. Logic is goal-oriented and passes judgment. Analogy ponders and establishes relationships. The logician sees. The ana-logician listens... The eye glimpses surfaces and is attached to them, always remaining superficial (on the surface). The ear penetrates deep into the realms it investigates through hearing."

"We see that music does not merely take place within time. It also exalts and surmounts time. It is not just that the past and present merge. The future is also involved to the extent that within the harmonious progression of music the note sounding 'now' anticipates the future note in which it will be resolved The not to come is, as it were, contained in the present note, which could not otherwise 'summon' it. Anyone musical knows that it is hardly possible to break off certain cadences before the final note. The final note is 'there' whether it is played or not. It may sound out later - or not at all - but, viewed in a higher sense, it was to be heard much earlier. Time only completes what became necessary outside of time. It merely makes manifest what would otherwise have remained hidden."

"At the root of all power and motion, there is music and rhythm, the play of patterned frequencies against the matrix of time. We know that every particle in the physical universe takes its characteristics from the pitch and pattern and overtones of itsparticular frequencies,its singing. Before we make music, music makes us."

"If you blot out sense and sound, what do you hear?"

"The magic of listening brings us closer to the central core of the universe. To begin to comprehend the mystery of life it is not sufficient to touch and to see – we need to hear, to listen, and thus to unite heart and mind and soul. The softer the sound the more important it is that we perceive it. We have, I fear, become a deaf people, and the cries of pain of the flora and fauna around us, the very air we breathe, the suffering of our fellow human beings in our urban deserts, in parts of the globe we have subjected to war, to famine and flood through greed and selfishness, have become inaudible. The media encourages us to read, to view, to hear, but that does not mean we listen. Until we can create a still center within ourselves we will be unable to attune the “third ear” to the messages that are broadcast to us, loud and clear for the most part, but rendered futile due to our incapacity to listen."

"Observe a particle as a wave, and it is a wave. Observe it as matter, and it is matter. ... Thus it is our point of view, the way we look at reality that makes reality the way it is."