February 23, 2008


Great gig at Ribs, Etc. last night with John Willingham.  Good crowd. Lotta nice compliments on our harmony. On the way home, I began contemplating the meaning of harmony, and then “meaning” and “harmony” separately. To be sure, most people reading this, would likely slap me with a “duh?!”, but isn’t “meaning” just simply an agreement on something between two or more people? Language doesn’t “mean” anything, as such, unless someone else agrees. The broader the agreement, the more common the meaning.  If we reason verbally, that is to say that one must “hear” himself “speak” inside his own head before it is brought to cognition, then thoughts themselves don’t mean anything either.  Thoughts only assume a meaning if we are convinced someone else agrees….even if its only God, Himself.  Therefore, no single thought exists in and of itself.  If I’m arrogant enough believe I’ve spawned an original thought, I must believe someone else could or would agree in order for it to exist as having “meaning”.  While thought itself may be meaningless, it is verbal, or sonic, at some level.  I guess that’s why they are referred to as brain “waves”, maybe?  (for that matter, is there a difference between brain waves and thought waves?…I digress)

If “meaning”is more fluid, harmony is more concrete; like mathematics. (as I see it anyway… and I don’t know if juxtaposing “meaning” and “harmony” constitutes total randomness or not, but since it’s just me, and I’m unhinged from meaning at this point, what the hell, I’m gonna go with it…plus, by my definition, I only need one other person reading to agree with me to “make it so”).  Like mathematics, vocal harmony either resolves nicely, or it’s back to the scratch pad.  Like thought, harmony is sonic, in that it exists in waves, and they either go together or they don’t.  The frequencies fit mathematically. Harmony exists outside the realm of human agreement.  Meaning does not.

I have no idea where all this came from.   I’m now beginning to think about this Sunday, as Joey, Mark, and I have been recruited by Marty Kearns, our engineer, to sing back-up harmony on someone else’s record.  That, I think we can all agree, means “cool!” 

 The photo above is a picture I snapped at Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Utah, a place we visited this past week.  Double-click for full size.  Looks like Awonawilona left his little leather necklace pouch when he was passing through. How it got up there or stays up there, I don’t know.   …doesn’t mean anything, just something to think about. Agreed?  😉



  1. No puffin’, just postulatin’, waitin’ on you to visit! Thanks for stoppin’ by DBGB! Spread the word!

  2. Harmony is also a word that people have to agree on. Harmony is a Western concept. We have decided that there are only 12 notes to choose from in the scale and certain combinations of those notes make chords that are pleasing to our taste. Scales in other cultures contain 18 or more notes.
    Harmony requires the agreement of two or more people to (vocally) colaborate to produce pleasing waves in the air to stimulate the timpanic membrane and further re-stimulate brainwaves releasing endorphins that make us tingle.
    Stop thinking so hard. You’re making my head hurt.

  3. Truedat, but so too is “meaning” itself a word on which two or more must agree. For the sake of conversation, we must agree to refer to it as such.

    I have little knowledge of eastern music, though as an exercise I have listened and experienced the difference somewhat. I’m postulating that it can be harmonized, because at some level all notes are vibrations and can be measured and tabulated mathematically…though to your point, harmonizing with eastern music could be considered a western approach to begin with. It’d be fun to have this discussion over some beers with an accomplished eastern musician from Emory or some such place.

    Thanks for stopping by. DBGB

  4. Man you are metamusil!

  5. […] to me that all harmony was mathematical at some level. (No great shakes, to be sure) but I was rebutted by a reader who pointed out that harmony itself was strictly a western concept and that other cultures differ, […]

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