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The Availability of Truth in Musical and Non-Musical Interactions

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

What is truth and does it matter?

Most of us, when asked this question, will probably think they have sufficient understanding of truth to be able to provide an answer with which others will agree. The question of whether or not truth exists has been debated by philosophers for centuries. There are two main schools of thought on this issue:

  • Objectivism holds that there is an objective reality that exists independent of our minds, and that truth is a correspondence between our beliefs and this reality.

  • Subjectivism holds that there is no such thing as an objective reality, and that truth is simply a matter of individual belief.

In The Musician's Way Model, Objectivism and Subjectivism are visualised at either end of a spectrum from the Rational to the Intuitive.

There are strong arguments to be made for both of these positions. Objectivism is supported by the fact that we often seem to be able to agree on what is true, even when we have different perspectives. For example, we all agree that the Earth is round. This suggests that there is something about the Earth's shape that is independent of our individual beliefs. (That said, I know you'll remind me that there will always be a few 'flat-earthers')

However, subjectivism is also supported by strong arguments. For example, it is difficult to see how we could ever know for sure that our beliefs correspond to an objective reality. Our senses could be deceiving us, or we could be living in a simulation. Additionally, different people often have different beliefs about the same thing, which suggests that there is no single, objective truth.

Ultimately, the question of whether or not truth exists is a matter of personal philosophy. There is no scientific or logical proof that can definitively answer this question. However, the debate over truth is an important one, and it is one that we should continue to have.

In all probability truth exists, but it is not always easy to find. We must be willing to question our own beliefs and to consider the perspectives of others. We must also be willing to admit that we may never know the whole truth about anything.

Truth matters

It is the foundation of knowledge, understanding, and trust. Without truth, we would be unable to make informed decisions, solve problems, or build relationships. Truth matters in all areas of life, from personal relationships to public policy. In personal relationships, truth is essential for trust and intimacy. If we cannot trust that our partners are being honest with us, then we cannot build a strong foundation for our relationships.

In public policy, truth is essential for good decision-making. If our leaders are not being honest with us about the challenges we face, then we cannot make informed decisions about how to address them.

Of course, truth is not always easy to find. There are many forces that can distort the truth, including bias, prejudice, and self-interest. However, it is important to strive for truth, even when it is difficult. When we are honest with ourselves and with others, we can build a better world for everyone.

Truth matters because it helps us to

  • Understand the world around us.

  • Make better decisions.

  • Build trust and relationships.

  • Create a more just and equitable society.

In a world where misinformation and disinformation are rampant, it is more important than ever to value truth. We must be critical consumers of information and be willing to question what we are told. We must also be willing to speak up when we see or hear lies being told. By doing so, we can help to create a more truthful and just world.

Human Truth Through Music

Music is a powerful form of communication that can evoke a wide range of emotions and experiences. It can be used to express joy, sorrow, love, anger, and everything in between. Music can also be used to tell stories, create worlds, and connect with others on a deep level.

The most significant aspect of music is that it is a common language across Humanity. Misunderstandings abound in verbal languages. Words and their meaning can be manipulated so easily. However in terms of musical language it is really difficult to be, for example, duplicitous. Try it. Play any instrument you want. See if you can express a double meaning in the music. On the other hand play a piece of music with extreme grandiosity and there can't be any doubt that you demonstrating a high level of narcissism. And in this situation, no-one seems to mind. In a funny way you're just being very honest and open.

Truth in musical interactions can inform non-musical scenarios in a number of ways. For example, it can help people to be more honest with themselves and others. In most interactions we should expect a degree of honesty but sometimes you might experience a sense of discomfort or confusion in interactions. Musicians don't ignore those feelings. Something needs fixing and they will tend work through things to find out what's going wrong. Truth is the component that has to be available here and good musical relationships tend to develop on the basis that to be able to produce a good musical outcome, feeling safe to be honest to the others is important.

Musical Truth in Non-Musical Situations

In work situations, an awareness of disquieting feelings can easily pass by unnoticed. Even if they are noticed, they can be easily discarded or played down by others. On the other hand, musicians will pay attention to these feelings. In a non-musical situation treat these feelings in a similar manner. Treat them like a 'yellow warning flag' on a beach. If you get the yellow flag often enough it's worth looking at the possible causes in more depth. You can use the musical process as a useful metaphor. We musicians are far more alert to these signs and will get in early rather than leave things to fester and perhaps become even worse.

Feelings are by their very nature subjective but they have considerable value. In The Musician's Way we would say that we Intuit them or sense them and use them as our 'yellow flags'. Our next task would be to move towards the Rational and work together find the issues. It's a very natural thing to do. We do it safely. We're working together as a bonded team. In non-musical situations the key stimulus, our intuitive feelings, can get lost. We may already be feeling stressed, we may not feel that our opinion is valued, or worse still, it's an already toxic culture. Of course in musical spaces this is much less likely to happen, but were it to, the band wouldn't last very long. It would break apart. Thankfully, musical teams/groups have a far greater sense of safety to express their views than many other environments.

Creating a space of safety with regard to the expression of truth can also help people to be more creative and expressive and facilitate the possibility of a more mature connection between team members. It brings an element of sensitivity towards others which might not normally be present. Musicians simply express themselves authentically. They have nothing to hide. Their mistakes are heard. They work together to correct them. They have to accept each other's weaknesses. When musicians are free to express themselves creatively, they often come up with new and innovative ideas. This verdant territory can develop in non-musical scenarios given the right pre-conditions, one of which is this notion of Truth.

This doesn't mean that musicians at other times are less than truthful. In this sense truth refers to a sense of openness, connection and even a willingness to be vulnerable. When musicians demonstrate this in their playing, it can be felt by the listener. This truth can be expressed in a variety of ways, such as through the choice of notes, the way the music is played, or the emotions that are conveyed. Musicians like the rest of humanity learn these skills through their experience of joining together with others to play. Playing together as a group offers musicians a real opportunity to learn how to be more open with each other, to be more sensitive, and to accept and take responsibility for their mistakes. Truth in musical interactions can help people to connect with others on a deeper level. When people share a common experience, such as listening to or performing music, it creates a bond between them. This bond can be based on shared emotions, memories, or simply a shared appreciation for the beauty of music. This can be a powerful example for people in other areas of their lives. It seems a very obvious thing to say that, aiming ourselves towards honesty can lead to greater intimacy, trust, and connection, however it surprising how often we can lose ourselves in the chaos of life and without intention lose our moral compass. "Follow the Musician's Way and, great things are more likely to happen." (Philippa Lowe 2022)

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