The Symphonic Juncture

A [Symphonist]: "The one who is not afraid to raise the primal force."

- Boris Asafiev (1917)

'Music Theory': The Quest for Existential Understanding.

In Husserl(1970, v.1), he defends his understanding of the phenomenological reality of a mental-object, previously articulated in relation to fine-art in Collected Works (2005, v.11), where he identified the imminently ‘real’, albeit internalized perception of X [image-object] gestated by the external suggestion of said object [image-subject] through a crystallized medium of tangible source [physical-object], as an ‘inactual’ experience of a physical demeanor brought about by the insolvable ‘consciousness of conflict’ which, if solved, would dissolve the very existence of the X within the mind. It is worth thoroughly grasping this distinction before venturing ahead and thus stated differently, the stages are the simple object and its dressings (paint, frame, canvas), the insinuation at form (the paint in the shape of what is called an apple), and the mental personification of the public suggestion (‘seeing’ the apple within). When expanding upon the role of the ‘image-subject’ as a conduit for interpretation and the literal link between the physical and abstract, Husserl writers [referencing the person’s role], “we distinguish this internal imaging from an external...imaging, a different mode of representation by means of resemblance...by means of signs [the equivalent being ‘hieroglyph’ and ‘sketches as memory images], or at least mediates imaginative consciousness with signitive consciousness,” saying in intricate phraseology that we mentally visualize based on physical embodiments of said image that we visually observe and then mentally second 'see'. Additionally, he charges the image-subject with its own function, “not only carry with themselves the presentation of the signified object, they also refer to it as <to> that which is supposed to be meant [...]”, explaining that if observing a painting, i.e., Wein, Weib und Gesang by J. Danhauser [1839], what the constructed visual object is tasked with is evoking and conjuring via visualizing alone the immaterial ‘reality’ of the object, thus deflecting attention from the literal manifestation and more to its evocational, paradoxically ‘real’ counterpart.


[PC: Belvedere Museum, Vienna]

In W.W.u.G, the joyful labormen, pastoral women, and guileless children all gather around a table covered in a creased, ivory linen, probably once blanched-white but now darkened with constant use, and their gaiety, expressed through playing the guitar, violin, singing, and even innocuous flirting, suggest movement in the mind’s eye but cannot be considered to be any type of actual movement itself. The painting here is simply a suggestion of activity which, at some internalized point in historical temporality, felt so real and palpable to Danhauser, that the will-to-creation [Asafievian terminology] became so strong that it needed to be physicalized, and the medium he chose to use happened to be fine-art, utilizing a style close to the Biedermeierian-Realist provincialism of the time. But this still doesn’t satiate one’s interest in figuring out what Music Theory’s existential relationship to Husserl’s illustrative trifecta could be, and for that I turn to Husserl again, this time his daedalian ‘theory’ of phenomenologically-tinged Intentionalism, understood by him in Ideas 1(1913) as, “what characterizes consciousness in the pregnant sense [Intentionalism being the ‘baby of the consciousness’] and which, at the same time justifies designating the whole stream of mental processes as the stream of consciousness and as the unity of one consciousness.”


Although an on-going dialectic with no ‘right’ answer, I first started to consider Music-Theory from an Existentialist perspective after starting the work on an Article [as of yet unfinished] dedicated to graphically depicting Asafiev’s enigmatic writings on musical form, ontological statements on the development of music from perception to actuality, with some illustrations to be dedicated towards the gravitational occurrences and ‘centrifugal’ inertia as personified through the creative process and understood via the undulating dichotomy of human Intellect and its ideological companion, Intuition. To penetrate into the Existentialistic, musical ethos that I presumed to have already been developed, Pio and Varkøy(2012) provided to be the necessary channel for such investigation, especially their illuminations on music’s contradictory position in modernity, being both a tool to ‘bring us into the presence of its inside’, while also serving no vital purpose in functional life, although the latter’s frank truth has caused a shift in music-educational practices [in Scandinavia according to the paper, but u