Nana Tsay | Click for photo essay.
Music is profoundly illuminated as the ‘universal language’. It possesses the ability to instill emotions within us and communicate feelings through manners that do not utilize semantics or grammar. The art of music is much more than an arrangement of articulated sounds—music speaks. It has a tone that portrays meaning, affectivity—something human. We experience a vast array of sensations when we listen to music—bliss, melancholy, and even bitterness. Music can alleviate or accentuate and amplify particular sentiments beyond text or the spoken word. While music is not a true language—meaning that a statement like “the flower is beautiful” cannot be undeviatingly transliterated—it contains elements such as melody, meter, rhythm, and other ‘rules’, that make it structured similarly to a language. The activity in the human brain whilst reading and performing music is also interestingly analogous to that of spoken language and syntax.
This past semester at Columbia University, I took a course that centralizes on the humanities of music which truly invigorated and further enlightened my previous musical knowledge I had acquired from studying violin and piano. It explored the critical framework, technical vocabulary, and historical contexts essential to understanding art music. It allowed me to connect deeper and appreciate music in another light. I saw how music evolved over time from Medieval Plainchants to Classical to The Late 20th Century Minimalism. Because of the vast multitude of music genres, I became inquisitive and curious what music means to others and the tones that they gravitate to.
The artists that I resonate with are relatively minimal and piano-intense. They tend to reflect blue undertones of wistfulness and melancholy much like my photography—Emancipator: With Rainy Eyes, This Will Destroy You: They Move on Tracks of Never-Ending Light, Ludovico Einaudi: Andare, Claude Debussy: Clair de Lune, α·Pav : 永遠なる夏.
It was an honor to be featured in the Brilliance Magazine Vol. 2 Summer issue (p.196-199)—a diverse consolidation of interviews, enticing articles, and minimalistic photo essays. I was requested to head up the preceding Vol. 3 Fall issue in the music section titled “TONE” which encompasses minimalistic photography embellished with musical elements. Unfortunately, the Editor in Chief & Founder of Brilliance announced, with much regret, that the upcoming publication has been extendedly postponed, however, he has strong hope to enliven the magazine in the future. The article that I composed is instead published here.
I interviewed four artists and asked them to share a personal photo. Click ‘Read More’ below.