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Musicmaking Helps Combat Life's Noise

As always, I read The Juilliard Journal with great interest. In the March issue, the ideas presented in the brilliant article of Sato Matsui evoked in me the following reactions, which hopefully will prove to be constructive. The points in this article that in my opinion lead to distress I will not repeat. Instead I'll try to point out helpful ideas.


Modern life is not merciful: physical and mental health are decreasing around the world due to environmental factors, one certainly being of auditory nature, i.e. street noise. The cutting out of overtones is a minor factor, but it diminishes the pleasure of playing and listening. It is not at random that the church prohibited the tritonus in the Middle Ages: the respective overtones kill each other. The sound of a clavichord in a normal urban setting is too weak for us to hear. What have we come to?

Musicmaking is cherishing life: yours, your listeners, your chosen composers. Musicmaking is not about making money (although you certainly need money), it is not about your person (although your whole person is involved). Music is there when the cat purrs when hearing music; when the workers cease to work because they want to hear the whole piece. That is work fulfilled; everything else one needs follows.

Ritva-Hillevi Rissanen Jantsch ('72, piano)
Nürnberg, Germany

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