musical aphasia

The similarities of music to language are very striking.  While I fancy myself fluent in the latter (English, that is), I’m still very much a novice in the former.

So I sing in a choir, but that does not make me a musician.  In the past 5 years, I have managed to pick up by osmosis a lot of music theory and reading, much like a first generation emigrant would in a foreign land.  But I still lack a lot in the “diction” and “vocabulary” departments, if you will.

For instance, I still don’t know my notes, which is, I am aware, an embarrassing confession.  You ask me where a G# is on the treble clef and I’ll scratch my head and mumble, “It is… how you say?… ‘La’!”  But I do know:

  1. time signatures
  2. note time values
  3. dynamics
  4. even basic interval progression

Back to the language analogy, these are akin to:

  1. how fast we’re talking
  2. the cadence of our speech
  3. how loudly and quietly we’re talking (crowded bar versus a movie theater)
  4. the syllables in our words

At this point in my infant music career, it’s not unlike having a certain aphasia.  I’m like someone who’s woken from a coma, or perhaps a victim of brain aneurism, rehabilitating his linguistic capacity.  Until recovery happens upon me, I’ll continue to read my music with a level of headlighted-dear syndrome.  For those of you fluent in music, you can simulate my condition by staring at John Stump’s works 1, but mind you not too hard.  It might cause an aneurism!

Here is an example score titled, “Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz (from ‘A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich’)”




  1. Oh thank goodness for Google Image Search!  Otherwise, I never would have found such a treasure trove as one John Stump, parody composer extraordinaire

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