Sometimes a cigar is just a penis

Lately I’ve been thinking a bit about using visual images to serve as the template for pieces of music. For instance, I might take a scene of a bunch of houses and represent them musically. If I was describing a tall mansion made out of brick I might using reaching melodies that go up into the sky (illustrating tallness) and perhaps a series of quick, dense chords (illustrating the tiny, hard units that are bricks.) Similar processes could be used to illustrate other houses in the group.

This is, of course, what a lot of movie soundtracks do: describe or augment the visual with the musical. And often what the music is describing is a person’s inner state – anxiety is illustrated by manic violins, calm denoted with long smooth tones.

To explore this idea I need to clearly define the term object. As I use it, the term can describe actual physical objects – cars, animals, stars etc – or mental units – thoughts, feelings, perceptions.

The idea here is that we correlate different types of objects with other objects. We understand that the slow cadence of a walking elephant has a correlation with a down tempo series of tuba honks. We understand that the overwhelming onslaught of emotional stress can be captured in a single large painting of vibrant red. We understand that an image of a wide peaceful lake correlates to the calm sensation of a peaceful mind. In a weird way elephants ARE tubas, stress IS red, lakes ARE peace. In a psychological/perception sense these objects are interchangeable.

I was just reading about Freud’s theories about dreams. As you probably know, he posits that a lot of things we see in dreams represent something else – e.g the peacock is really your vanity, the bellowing walrus is your obnoxious uncle, the cigar you place in your mouth is really a long, hard, sweaty penis. Freud was basically making the same point I am – that objects can be correlated to each other.

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