- Dissonances are beautiful! -

- Dissonances are beautiful! -

Hyo-shin Na – written for the Korea Times SF - 9/14/2012

Once, years ago, I read that there are two types of people – those who exercise and those who don’t exercise. I knew right away that I was the second type. However, since October of last year I’ve been making a trip to the local swimming pool six days a week to do something called “water aerobics”. It’s an indoor swimming pool near our house with an instructor (or should I say “marine drill sergeant”?) leading each session. People doing water aerobics seem to have difficulty moving when they’re not submerged in the water and, maybe for that reason, are mostly seniors.

There are a few typical characters in these swimming pool scenes: the person who demands a certain spot in the pool…the person who pushes someone who doesn’t move as fast as everyone else (one needs a certain amount of space to move around more or less freely and many of the exercises involve moving as a group in the same, or at least similar, direction)…the person who, when pushed, gets upset and begins a noisy argument…the group of people who talk loudly amongst themselves while standing in one spot instead of exercising (this makes it impossible for the instructor to make herself heard over the combined din of loud conversation and noisy dico exercise music). Of course, there are also those exercising silently like maniacs and those who seem to be off by themselves in some exalted spiritual state. Since I’ve been going to the same classes for almost a year now, I know pretty well which group each of us fits into…

Whenever people get together there will be conflicts – you might even call them dissonances. If I try to avoid other people in order to avoid possible dissonances, I can feel very lonely. However, if I accept these dissonances as part of everyday life and even consider them as dramas of possible interest, I’m not so troubled by them. Think about dissonances in music – if you make rules about them (this combination of notes is dissonant, this other combination is not), you will be troubled by them. On the other hand, if you acknowledge that dissonances are inevitable, you can begin to have an interest in them and even to enjoy their beauty. Anyway, how boring music would be without dissonances. If we didn’t have dissonance, what would we compare consonance to? Of course, dissonance in the swimming pool could have harmful physical consequences, while there’s no danger in musical dissonance. Tomorrow, it’s back to the swimming pool with no fear of dissonance!