The sounds of music as the sounds of feeling?
If we consider Whitehead's idea that the entire universe unfolds by means of "feelings" or "prehensions" as ingredient in the subjectivity of concrescing subjects, and that once concrescence occurs, the concrescing subject becomes objectified in the experiences of subsequent subjects, then would it not follow that "music" and for that matter all sounds are what feeling sound like? Put differently, the sounds of music are the sounds of feeling. Am I on the right track?
Yes. I wrangled this topic as I worked toward a Whiteheadian metaphysics of music. Whitehead equates energy and emotion. It's not a testable hypothesis of metric science, but one can find the bald statement, a metaphysical intuition, in so many words, in at least two places in PR. The more primitive 'feeling' inheres in/as the subjective form of any prehension; I'd propose that 'emotion' more aptly designates synthesized patterns of feeling, the pattern 'canalizing' the tributaries of feeling into a stream that is of greater breadth/width/intensity than an elementary feeling, which need be only as complex as a minimal aversion or adversion. This is an attempt to keep our lingo straight as conversation might ensue.
If we take note of feelings everywhere, they comprise not only the sounds but the sight, smell, weight, etc., of, well, everything. Here we are enjoying the tautological nature of proper philosophical discourse, but not feeling particularly informed. Yes, music (and any sound) is the sound of feeling, and also sight is the visual appearance of feeling.
Once one does a Langeresque phenomenology of the several arts in consideration of the sensory modes involved, one is left with instrumental music (to eliminate for the moment lyrics, and just dwell in non-discursive arrangements of sound) as negotiating (a favorite term of Langer's) unfolding patterns as a non-verbal presentation (not necessarily re-presentational) of 'how feelings go.' I would emphasize in this, the unique potential of instrumental music (cf the other arts) to emphasize interplays of memory (what was that pattern?) and anticipation (will it come again? how?)...but with no more specific content than the moment in which it happens. It was a particular problem for philosophers of music to account for the ability of instrumental music to elicit emotion in listeners.
As we work out a process account of music cf other arts, we will want to survey the roles of perception in the mode of causal efficacy (pce) cf in the mode of presentational immediacy (ppi) in the several arts. Music, more than other arts, relies on and solely on sequential presentation, and thus has a kinship with pce, which, as Whitehead says, is 'heavy with emotion.'
I created a little cohort of All Paths students and we meet weekly on zoom. Last week I asked each of us to bring a song that captures some essence of who we are. It was a great exercise and very emotional.
What song would describe you?
This reminds me of a book I heard about recently, The Jazz of Physics by Stephon Alexander:
"The inspiration for Interstellar Space was Coltrane’s study of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the expanding universe hypothesis. He correctly realized that the expansion is a form of antigravity. In jazz combos, the gravitational pull comes from the bass and drums. The songs in Interstellar Space are a majestic display of Coltrane’s solos expanding away and freeing themselves from the gravitational pull of the rhythm section. Coltrane believed that the complexity of the cosmos flows into the actions of humans, and he practiced endless hours to be a conduit of this cosmic force. In his song “Jupiter,” one can hear Coltrane literally channeling the orbits of Jupiter’s moons in his improvisation."