Musical Neurological Mysteries

I have been listening a lot to Beethoven recently. My passion for different composers goes through phases. I have had a Bach phase, a Gershwin phase, a Prokofiev phase. I love their distinct styles and utter genius and originality. Each one was a profoundly transformative composer who also created incredibly poignant and beautiful music. Because I have synesthesia, I hear and see my music. To be honest, some music is visually beautiful and some is harsh and hideous to me. Beethoven has music that is like a visual poem. His melodies are like flowing waves of lights when they come together perfectly.

Neurologists might want to ponder the mystery of Beethoven a bit. For a huge portion of his composing career he was either losing his hearing or was totally deaf. How did his brain do the things it did missing a sense- the essential sense it required? I have been learning a bit about art history recently too. Can you imagine a genius like Van Gogh painting blind, remembering how to paint somehow? My mind cannot comprehend how Beethoven wrote his music, orchestrated it, created mood, emotion and phrasing- and all without hearing it. Even an experienced chef likes to taste their food.

The human brain is a mystery. Beethoven wrote some of the most sublime music ever written and he did it as a non-hearing person. Generally that would end a musical career, but he had inner music. He remembered sounds from when he heard. Did he hear them in his head the way we do? Who knows? But we do know he was able to tap into this ability somehow.

I tend to turn subjects back to autism. We don’t understand the brain well. By any logic, a deaf man should not be considered one of the world’s greatest composers. But he is. So once again I caution experts to have a little humility and not presume to think they have a clue about how a nonspeaking autistic person perceives and understands. The brain has so many unknowns, and people who by logic shouldn’t have an ability may have it, and sometimes at a profound level. I shouldn’t be processing human speech, according to some. I shouldn’t be writing my thoughts. I shouldn’t even have thoughts. Well, I say, go listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and imagine writing it deaf and try to be a little humble about the brain’s unknown capacities.

11 responses to “Musical Neurological Mysteries

  1. Love this thought- been basing its truth, all on my intuition since high school too. I am 48 so..yah, long time to not find all believe this by 2019!

  2. Love this! Thanks Ido! I am a music and voice teacher with two non verbal autusic kids, 7 and 9. My 7 year daughter is one of the most talented musical persons I ever met.
    Thanks for your inspiration.

  3. Love this! Thank you for putting this out there Ido. It’s just what I needed to hear. 🙂

  4. Very interesting as always, Ido. I knew Beethoven became deaf but hadn’t really thought about how did he continue to write music. He must have been able to hear the notes in his brain even though he couldn’t hear them through his ears. And you are correct to suggest that so many people who have difficulty communicating still might have magnificent thoughts!

    Keep up the good work, Ido!

  5. How wonderfully expressed! I liked how you used the word humility. I enjoy reading all your work. Thank you!
    Nirupama
    raonino@gmail.com
    http://www.niraamaya.wordpress.com

  6. One of the most beautiful piece of writing I read. I enjoy reading your blog. Keep it up.

  7. Absolutely, Ido! Yes!!

  8. Cheryl Stalilonis

    I love your insights, ido!

  9. Pingback: Musical Neurological Mysteries By Ido Kedar – Art by Nicole Corrado

  10. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and insightful observations, Ido. I love reading your perspectives. I am learning so much from you!

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