What exactly does the music and how it does it remains somewhat mysterious, but certainly, as everyone’s experience, something capable of to broadcast or awaken a great variety of intense emotions. so for the very characteristics of the language musical, which “asemantic” says Augusto Romano, Jungian analyst, author of the book Music and psyche, just posted by Raffaello Cortina. In other words, the musical language, unlike the common language, does not refer to anything concretely definable. In common parlance the word “bread” means that object in an incontrovertible way, but listening to a Beethoven quartet what does it allude to, what does it tell us, where does it take us? The fact that sound structures cannot be inventoried in a vocabulary. Therefore, the music has a strong point emotional impact, but its essence is mysterious and not describable, if not in an indirect, allusive and ultimately unsatisfactory way for the rational mind. And yet, as the history of civilization shows, we cannot do without music. Claude Lvi-Strauss wrote that “of all languages, music brings together the contradictory characteristics of being both intelligible and untranslatable”, while Hoffmann wrote: “Music opens up to man an unknown realm; a world that has nothing in common with the external sensitive world that surrounds him and in which he leaves behind all the feelings defined by concepts to rely on the unspeakable ”.
According to Romano, there is a possible correlation between this unspeakability of music and theunconscious, which by its nature always tends to escape from being grasped. Both stimulate the imagination and provoke or evoke powerful emotions; both need a rituality, which is so-called for psychoanalysis setting (times, bed and context of the session) that isolates them from the common temporal flow and gives them a particular meaning. As in the analytic relationship there are silences, in music there are the pause and often music prevents us from speaking because its language is another. A witty philosopher, who was also a musicologist, Vladimir Janklvitch, wrote: If men, upon leaving a concert, rush into the flow of words, not perhaps to take revenge on the music, which for two hours has condemned them to silence? Music lives on silences….
To better understand the essence of music, it is therefore necessary to accept its nature as a language not aimed at transmitting information. In reality, music does not, strictly speaking, convey information or, at least, this is not its main task. To use a definition that goes back to Kant, it has the ability to “move the soul” and therefore to be the “language of affects”. As a result, the problem shifts: the musical language, rather than informative, performative. It cannot be said to be true or false, but only that it produces effects. It provokes emotions, favors the unfolding of the imagination, generates atmospheres, modifies moods, “moves”. Consequently, no verbal explanation can ever replace the live and direct experience of music. The same can be said of the unconscious, and of its manifestation through images. All this does not mean that the music is volatile, vague, insignificant. In reverse. As Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy wrote, music is not too imprecise, but too precise for the thoughts it evokes to be expressed in words. Therefore, the fundamental element that unites music and psychoanalysis is precisely the effort to increase the extent and depth of the ability to experience. Everything confirms that music is certainly a way of access to the unconscious, but also that what counts in the relationship with the unconscious is above all that particular way of listening that we dedicate to music. In other words, the passage from a lucid and reassuring intellectual knowledge to a more uncertain, frayed, opaque, exciting knowledge also occurs in the course of an analysis. We could therefore say that the essence of psychoanalytic therapy has in some way to do with the musical experience. Perhaps also for this reason, sometimes, at the end of a therapy that has satisfied both the patient and the therapist, we are unable to say, in discursive language, what caused the change the patient underwent. What we do know is that together, therapist and patient, to use a metaphor, we tried the strings, so that the music that, who knows when, was imprisoned in the belly of that instrument could finally play.
In search of the possible classification of the emotions that music can arouse, a group of international researchers led by Alan Cowen of the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley has tried to classify the emotions that different music can arouse in listeners belonging to even very different cultures. The study involved over 2,000 US and Chinese listeners in two different experiments during which they were exposed to hundreds of musical pieces of various genres. In the end, 13 experiential dimensions associated with different types of music were identified: funny, boring, anxious, wonderful, relaxing / serene, dreamy, energizing, erotic, challenging, joyful, depressed, scary and triumphant / heroic. From the intercultural comparison it emerged that the feelings of joy and triumph are to be considered the most universal, those with the greatest number of passages associated with similar feelings between the members of the two cultures.