By Kevin Hales
A Harmony of Dissonance
One of my passions in life is music. I love listening to all types of music but particularly instrumental/orchestral scores. Because of this love of music, I (attempt) to play the piano and guitar occasionally as well, though I am hardly good with those instruments. I play and practice them more in the hope that I’ll become good at them someday.
Because of my lack of expertise in playing the piano and guitar, in order for me to learn apiece of music, it takes dozens, perhaps even hundreds of attempts and practice sessions with an individual song in order to really master it and play through it smoothly and with minimal errors. Throughout these practice sessions, I make countless errors. I hit wrong notes consistently and the noise they make combined with the rest of the notes being played create what I call a harmony of dissonance.
A dictionary definition of harmony is “the simultaneous combination of tones, especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear.” Also listed are the terms “agreement, accord, harmonious relations.” Dissonance on the other hand is an “inharmonious or harsh sound, discord.” The paradox of the phrase “Harmony of Dissonance” then is the fact that while the combination of notes is creating music, it is music which is harsh and unpleasant to the ears.
Dissonance in Your Relationships
Have you ever experienced discord in your relationships? Do you desire to experience harmonious relationships with those you love and care about?
All of us desire to have harmony in our lives and with those around us. Just as hearing a beautiful harmony pleases our ears, having harmony in our relationships pleases our hearts. Anyone who has been in a harmonious relationship can testify to the truthfulness of that fact. Multiple studies over the years have shown that being in a loving relationship with someone actually does make our hearts happy…in other words, we live longer than those who live alone, we are more resistant to disease and generally we’re happier with life.
Unfortunately, we inevitably encounter dissonance with those we love throughout life. It is unavoidable since we come to know one another intimately and know which notes cause angst in the other person’s life. Sometimes we push those notes on purpose, with the aim of getting attention because we feel the other person isn’t listening. As a result, we feel that that person doesn’t care about us. We naturally get angry and start to push the notes harder and with greater intensity hoping that somehow gets their attention. The other person might react by pulling away or pushing our dissonant notes in retaliation. We get caught in a negative cycle or pattern at that point, from which it might seem impossible to exit. These interactions become more numerous over time and the harsh dissonance grows and becomes unbearable over time, painful to hear and feel. The discord seems to drive a wedge into the relationship.
Harmony of Peace
An additional definition of dissonance is the “simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion.” When we are experiencing a harmony of dissonance in our relationships, there is unrest, a feeling of incompleteness. This is especially true in marriage — there never seems to be a time when we feel at ease and content with life because we feel emotionally distant from those that are closest and most important to us. That emotional distance may take hundreds of interactions to rectify over time, just as it takes me hundreds of attempts at pieces of music to work the dissonant notes out. Even after having learned a piece of music, I still mess up occasionally and have to correct the errors as I make them.
Our counselors at Colorado Counseling Center want to help you find the harmony of peace that you desire to have in your life. It will require a lot of effort and work though. Let us join you in that journey to peace and completeness.