If A Tree Falls In The Woods, and No One Is There To Hear It, Does It Make A Sound?

A Reflecting Pool Near The Lodge in Yosemite National Park

I’m sure that we have ALL puzzled over this question from time to time, and it is likely that there will never be an answer – a definitive answer, I should say – that will satisfy our curiosity about this situation.  However, we can ask a similar question in other areas of thought and endeavor, and it can at least lead us to think in depth about the need for a ‘receiver’ as well as a ‘giver’ if we are to have a completed transaction that works for both sides of an association!  In the case of the tree falling, it seems we would have to consider the tree to be ‘the giver’ – certainly of the ‘sound’ creating the waves which usually interact with our eardrums and cause us to hear something  – IF we are actually there to hear it!  So we would be the ‘receiver.’

Intellectuals such as philosopher George Berkeley and Scientists such as Albert Einstein and his friend Neils Bohr who was one of the founders of quantum physics have grappled with this question….which seems to lead even further into the conundrum.  Possibly then one must consider this approach to a search for the truth by asking 1) if one is not looking at the moon – then does it actually exist?  SO….then…the moon does not exist if nobody is looking at it?  Again…possibly!  And that takes us to the point of thinking about the likelihood that nothing can exist without being perceived!  2) Or conversely, can there be such a thing as unperceived existence!?  Certainly, at a given moment in time, if we don’t ‘perceive’ the existence of something like the moon, then for ‘us’ at that moment, the moon is not reality! But from having perceived it previously, we ‘know’ that it does, indeed, exist in our world.  And to the extent that anything in the world is ‘real’ and also exists in ‘time’ – whatever ‘time’ is, we can consider that these ‘objects’ (for want of a better word) either are or are not part of reality, this conclusion stemming from our own decision as to what ‘we’ consider real existence!

Oh dear……now, if there is still anyone here brave enough to be reading my ravings there will very likely be, at the least, a lot of wondering about WHAT this all has to do with piano music, performance, and photography!

Maybe there is no connection at all!  But then again….what about expression?  More specifically….artistic expression?  In my first article about the “Blending of Two Passions” I spoke in a very serious way about how I felt about the importance of my ‘two passions’!  Music and Photography.  In order to follow this through I have to recall my assertion that we discover and explore our Identity through Artistic Expression. And I quote from my previous blog article on passions….  “I would be seriously impoverished if I found myself unable to play and to share the amazing music written through the ages for the piano and its predecessors!  In addition to simply โ€˜lovingโ€™ to play the instrument I can also say that the process of working through and bringing to performance level the great musical and artistic masterpieces of the past two to three centuries is a privilege that is so special that I really have no words with which to express it.  You can definitely hear it in my playing, though!”

I find that my ability to ‘give to’ and to ‘share’ with my audiences and/or my viewers is  not only extremely important but even totally necessary for me to feel fulfilled after a concert!  Likewise, in order for me to feel fulfilled as a photographer, I have to know that there are people who are enjoying, responding to, and even  moved by my images!  I can be very satisfied by what I have achieved in my playing and with my photographs,  but if no one ever heard me play or saw one of my photos, I don’t know how long I could sustain the effort to produce my best work and to savor it and know that it is fine work which continues to develop.  I think there does have to be some feedback of a positive nature about our artistic expressions….in order for us to truly be OK with putting our work “out there!”  Pinning our hearts on our sleeves, so to speak!

SO….in conclusion….can we be truly expressive and giving of our work, ourselves, our identity – if there is no one to hear it or see it?  I’m not sure….and I’ll leave you with the question to ponder for yourselves.  But for me…I think the answer is ‘probably not!’  One additional thought here, and one with which I’m sure some of you take issue…. is that I have included the aspects of giving and sharing in the concept of expressiveness.  In fact, one of the acknowledged synonyms of ‘Expressive’ is the word ‘Demonstrative!’  This illustrates the very tight connection I believe exists between being expressive and that in itself being a gift, a sharing!

I’d like to mention here an adult piano student of mine who has also been very interested in my photography and who this morning at his lesson (he is a lawyer by the way and has studied music all his life – specifically the violin and the piano), posed the question to me regarding the ability to express (i.e. to give and to share) if there is no one to receive it (i.e. to hear it or see it and be responsive to it).  Therefore please blame Ralph if you feel like throwing something across the room at this point!  ๐Ÿ™‚  But then, perhaps take some time to ponder the discussion…. browse the images on this site if you haven’t already done so and if you enjoy what you are seeing, please let me know!  ๐Ÿ™‚

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close