Musical Belief


belief—an acceptance that a statement is true or something exists

Music can’t articulate claims about truth or falsity (can it?), but in its sounds and organization it can ring true or false or somewhere in between. One of the many things we do when we listen is try to figure out if we accept what the music is proposing. Our stance, of course, is a starting point shared with the doubting listening mindset, summed up in the question: Do I believe what the music is doing or trying to do? But in contrast to doubting, a believing mindset hears music as a glass more half full than half empty of meaningful sounds. Believing begins by assuming that what the musician is trying to do is true. This belief carries the listener along for the musical ride, trusting that the composer or performer will pull it off. Believing says I trust you even though only in the fullness of the elapsed time of a completed performance will we know if this trust was well-founded. The music may or may not ever get off the ground, but I hope it does and my believing this could make all the difference to the music’s success.

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