By Vijay Phanshikar :
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
-- Aldous Huxley,
THE words in this statement appear simple but have a meaning very difficult to comprehend. It appears to be talking of the merit of music, but is actually talking of silence as the most substantive manner and medium of expression and comprehension. A typical Aldous Huxley statement -- profound yet subtle, a poetic expression in prose, with a touch of little whimsical extremism. Let us talk of silence. Silence is space. Silence is an open invitation to interpretation of any kind. Silence has its own word. Silence has its own presence.
Ancient books talk of silence as the condition that prevailed before Time began. The Brahma! Then came the word -- Aum! And then followed Creation. No matter the many theories, but each of those accepts the presence of silence as a condition that gave birth to universe. So, the best expression becomes possible in silence. Let us not travel so back in time, to the start of Time. Let us dwell on the simple silence that all of us know, though most of us do not understand. But silently, in the depth of our mind, all of us do recognise that in silence, everything is said without word. Each of us understands that a moment does come -- every now and then -- when words fail, and silence takes over. And in that condition, whatever we cannot express gets expressed. It is in that silence that self-realisation emerges.
It is in silence that poetry is born, art is born. And finally, it is in silence that music is born. Gaansaraswati Kishori Amonkar often talked of how music -- one note -- could express the inexpressible. Her music was woven around that one note -- and its multiple outlets that a singer could exploit. And as she presented her recitals, what prevailed was only the notes of her music -- and an audience steeped in profound silence. As the ripples and waves of her musical notes flooded the place, certain indefinable silence engulfed the people at the concert. That is music. Its actual strength comes not from sung notes; it comes from how the audiences interpret the silence that connected the notes.
Music, thus, is an activity that actual defines silence, shapes silence, adds expression to the inexpressible. This is, actually, the power of silence, so to say -- of freedom to interpret it without any pre-condition. That is music -- the most authentic mode of expression, communication -- and communion with the Divine, the Brahma! But music always comes second, silence being the first!