Rod Paton
from: Rod Paton
Category: Improvisation

Lifemusic - Connecting People to Time (Extract 1)

Connecting to Time


Time is one of the great archetypal experiences of man, and has eluded all our attempts towards a completely rational explanation.


The universe was created with time and not in time.(St. Augustine)


This book is about time and how we connect to it, though it is not, assome readers may (or may not) be glad to discover, about quantum theory or particle physics but about music. Time is the autonomous, unconditional, inevitable and ultimately, mysterious process through which life grows and decays and music not only measures time, delineating in a purely abstract but palpable way its passage but it also infuses time with emotional significance and therefore, with meaning: in this sense, it creates out of time a hermeneutic canvas. So the connection to time, through music, becomes also a connection to ourselves, to our senses and how we make sense of ourselves in relation to the world. Music therefore connects us both to the rhythmic quality of our inner lives and feelings, and to those external events and rituals which measure our passage through life and determine our cultural understanding: music not only makes us conscious of time but it simultaneously deepens our awareness of time’s significance. We therefore use music not merely as an accompaniment to life (although we may sometimes think that that is all it is doing) but as a barometer of the inner and outer patterns which make life more than a set of random events that somehow take place between birth and death. Music connects us to time and in so doing, it deepens our connection to life itself. The concept and the practice of Lifemusic grow out of this epistemology.


Throughout this book, I will be focusing on the degree to which the way we use music, culturally and socially, acknowledges (or fails to acknowledge) its capacity to articulate time and thus to express the significance of the moment. This places music more in the domain of “Kairos” than “Kronos”. In Greek, “kairos” means not simply time but the appropriate moment for an event to take place or the significance lent to an event through the moment in which it happens. It means “felt time”as distinct from delineated time, qualitative as opposed to quantitative. It is about our capacity to understand the import of where we are in time and then to act accordingly. If, through lack of awareness, lack of courage or simply bad luck, we fail to appreciate the fateful quality of the moment and “miss the boat”, then difficulties, if not tragedy can follow. The yellow lemon butterfly hatches at the precise moment when the lemon blossom, the source of its nourishment, appears; if it emerges too early or too late it flies around in vain and eventually dies. Its survival therefore depends upon its alignment with “kairos”. “Kronos” on the other hand, regulates time with clocks, bells and timetables. The “old man of time” keeps the trains running and ensures that we turn up on time for our lessons but he may be insensitive to those inner needs which often require the timetable to be suspended or the carefully laid out plan to be abandoned or the journey to be more leisurely. I shall return to this theme in more detail in Chapter 1.


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