Different Types of Transcendence

In response to Page’s opening paper at the ‘Music and Transcendence’ conference, Begbie outlined four different definitions of transcendence. Very interesting.

1 – a unifying power (moving across physical, social or cultural boundaries). This can be used to demarcate boundaries, or include/exclude people.

2 – a foretaste of the world to come (the ability to transcend this world). There is a future drive here. Heaven and earth are united (by real time music according to Begbie – when earthly music unites with heavenly music that is already going on).

3 – exceeding language through music (perhaps through the cumulative effect of text and music). The more one can abstract oneself from language through music, the closer one is to the divine.

4 – an awareness of God. Begbie cautions against the term ‘transcendent being’ in that one might end up describing God in terms of what God is not.

Musicians apparently have a dynamic transcendence over subject boundaries. True story?

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