Music is a lot easier to enjoy than to talk about or to define. It seems all cultures have some kind of music, and for many people, it is one of life’s greatest and lasting pleasures. Others, though, are deaf to it. Shakespeare seems to have believed that people with no ear for music were not to be trusted – they were “fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils”. On the other hand, music has sometimes been suspected of arousing dangerous passions. Music can enhance experience, make words more expressive, activate memory, create emotion. You can enjoy it in the acoustic solitude of your earphones, but most music is a communal thing, a shared behaviour. It remains one of the most mysterious of human activities. The ancients believed the universe itself to be a musical organization, emitting a cosmic or angelic harmony which earthly creatures were unable to hear. On a more mundane level, music can be a high-cultural status symbol, and is also the staple of popular culture, the principal commodity of an enormous global entertainment industry, and the lubricant of much of our leisured life, piped into shops and elevators whether we like it or not.
Douglas Kerr has invited Jacqueline Leung and Colin Touchin to talk music. Jacqueline Leung is a prominent Hong Kong musician, a prize-winning pianist, a soloist and chamber musician and a teacher of music. Colin Touchin is a conductor and composer, was for many years Director of Music at the University of Warwick, and has taught clarinet, recorder, composition, conducting, chamber music, electronic music and jazz.