The Structure of Intentionality
My experience is that in my free time, I play the guitar. I play the songs I like now and try to learn new ones through repetition and practice. I use my hearing, sight, and touch senses as I experience this. The guitar, as a whole object, is now differentiated into specific strings for the left and right hands, although they are still parts of the entire thing. The music that results from the game serves me as the meaning of this subject and as a kind of signal – I associate my play with the composition I know and evaluate my success. Therefore, the intentional relationships within this experience include interaction with the guitar object, the original melody from long-term memory, and my knowledge of note and chord notation when I am learning something new.
The Structure of Time-Consciousness
The primal impression is the sound of plucking the guitar string while clamped on a particular fret. The next tone of the melody becomes a protention phenomenon when I still only play the first note or chord. When moving to the next sound, the first one is held in memory, forming an abstract holistic representation of the melody or retention, which I compare with the original song throughout a single experience in an attempt to play from notes. Protention is stored as a premonition of the next tone from memory until the end of the experience. Although at the moment, for example, in the middle of a composition, the first notes are not played by the guitar, they still exist as temporary moments of experience without reference to an independent guitar object. Therefore, independently of each other, there are two objects – the original melody, which I refer to in memory, and the guitar, which serves as an instrument for creating the same song in my performance. The discretization of melody tones, regardless of my experience, can be described by music theory with note or bar durations, but specifically in my case, it occurs solely by gradually extracting notes from the guitar with the tactile sensations of string plucking and fingering with the left hand.
Object and Horizon
A time horizon of experience is created that is not connected with memory and imagination but creates the depth of time at the moment. A distinctive feature is sedimentation, which does not require me to re-synthesize and ultimately drive through the information about the position of the hands on the guitar or listen to the original melody to repeat it better and better each time. The absence of the need for repeated detailed synthesis creates the so-called time horizon of sedimented experience (Merleau-Ponty 131-132). As part of this experience, the perception of the strings, the movement of the hands, and the reading of the melody as an already known particular whole takes place, creating the opportunity to play so fast that the reproduced sound is similar to the original piece. This experience corresponds to the example when moving at home without the lights on, and we use the accumulated knowledge about the furniture placement in the apartment to move confidently without synthesizing information about the location of objects anew. Such an associative collective aspect can be called the skill of playing the guitar – because the faster I navigate this coordinate system, the better each overall experience will come out.
Pieces and Moments
In fact, the ear perceives guitar playing as part of the abstraction of the whole subject, despite the division into parts of strings and frets, which is necessary for a proper understanding of the play. Consequently, sensations become multilayered: the independent parts of a single guitar object with its strings and flats are “pieces” in Husserl’s terminology, and the melody with its tunes and separate sounds is a “moment” as non-independent parts (Husserl 467). At the same time, the associative part regarding the guitar is not divided on a large scale: only strings and frets, but not the color or material from which it is made, turn out to be the constituent components. While playing the guitar, the key “parts” for me are the strings and frets, but they are inseparable from the guitar, neither in the created horizon of time nor in the independent world of objects. However, in a different experience, for example, if I had to buy a new guitar and I had the opportunity to evaluate the sound of several models, the perception of the guitar as an object would be different, although I would use a similar playing experience. This fact only confirms this theory about the independence of the world of objects and our perception in the framework of interaction with them.
Absence and Prescence
The guitar is a tangible object, while the melody is something abstract. The melody acts as a signal in the real world only at the moment as a sound that can be decomposed in terms of pitch and duration. Expectation violation manifests as a potential error in my guitar playing, interrupting a given time horizon, after which I create a new one and start to play the tune again. The guitar is present throughout the experience, even when there is no actual sound – a long pause can be caused by an instrument tuning or a particular delay in a song. Accordingly, the melody reproduced by me exists in my understanding as a single whole in the horizon created during the experience, it can be deposited in memory or cause emotions, but it ceases to exist as the experience is completed. The guitar continues its existence continuously; it is present all the time of experience, in the moments of reproduction, and beyond them.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of perception. Motilal Banarsidass Publishe, 1996.
Husserl, Edmund. The shorter logical investigations. Routledge, 2002.