Destuctive Editing: Can ‘Pain’ be Indoctrinated in Music and Meaning transfered to a listener?

Here is a beautiful and graphic account of how painful circumstances resulted in a particular creative practice in music production. I would love to hear this piece by Adrian Benavides. As a musicologist, one of the things I challenge my students with is the ontological gap between the ‘intended meaning’ of a piece of music and the way it can be received. This gap is described by the likes of Umberto Eco and Roland Barthes as the ‘Open Work’ and the ‘Death of the Author’ respectively. This account leaves no doubt of the ‘pain’ that resulted in the ‘destructive’ editing described so eloquently below. What interests me – in particular with instrumental music – is how this intention is transferred to listeners. Indeed – can it be? In fact is it possible to embed ‘pain’ inside a piece of instrumental music? The start of the blog is copied below, followed by a link. It is worth reading.

This is what my therapist told me a month after I lost my daughter, Valentina, in a full-term stillbirth.  If you’re not sure what that means, then here’s a short explanation.  She was a fully formed baby who would have been born totally healthy and normally if her heart hadn’t suddenly and unexpectedly stopped beating.  For no reason.  She was delivered in exactly the same fashion as many other children.  I was in the operating room wearing scrubs like a father typically does during a c-section procedure.  My beautiful little girl was handed to me swaddled up with a little hat on just how she would have been delivered otherwise.  The devastating reality is that she was just gone.

To see the full blog click here.

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
This entry was posted in Academic, Musicology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Destuctive Editing: Can ‘Pain’ be Indoctrinated in Music and Meaning transfered to a listener?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I suppose if you edit the word “music” out and replace with something like “sound and emotion” the question seems a bit clearer to me and I would answer yes.

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  2. Erin says:

    So, I’ve never been to your blog before, but this Adrian you speak of is one my best friends! He found this post and showed it to me because he was so excited to be noticed. 🙂

    I think he said he’s going to share it with you, but I’d like to give my own two cents…the album he wrote after this tragedy is really amazing. I listen to it pretty frequently (or as much as it shows up in the shuffle of my music library, haha), and the song “Exterior of a Heart” is one of my favorites. The “Reflection”s are quite beautiful as well. 🙂

    Adrian and I connected through a support group a year or two ago, because my son was born three days after his daughter, and only lived for four days. Along with music and other interests, this has brought us together as a shoulder to lean on, and someone to laugh with. (Our relationship is strictly platonic though, of course.)

    He just seemed so happy to get this recognition, I thought I’d speak up, since this is so close to my heart as well. 🙂

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  3. carza says:

    Thanks for the comment, and really sorry to hear of the tragedy you have both had to suffer. Although I have not heard the album, it is amazing how tragedy like this can sometimes produce beautiful art.

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  4. Adrian is my ex husband; Valentina is our daughter. Thank you so much for highlighting his blog- it IS worth reading, its beautifully written. As a classical violinist, someone who plays so much “off the page,” it was fascinating for me to see his destructive writing process in action.

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  5. carza says:

    It was a pleasure Annie. I look forward to listening to a copy of the recording.

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  6. Pingback: More Notes on Indoctrinating Music with Real Emotion: Adrian Benavides Part 2 « Paul Carr Musings

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