Dichotomy or Duality? (And a Whole Lot of Other Questions)

Why do I do this division between Art and Function? Does it have any meaning? Do I really need this polarization? What does it do? What does it do to me and what does it do to my art and what does it do to other people and my relationship with them? Does it help me in my development or in my understanding of the world? And is it really a dichotomy where the one excludes the other and everything has to be put in one of the categories (and hence has nothing to do with the other), or is it rather a duality, like the two sides of a Janus-mask, or the two sides of a coin?

A short answer is that I didn’t ‘do’ this division. It occurred to (or maybe in) me without me asking for it. However I accepted it and used it as a way of describing my own development. And in that way it became extremely useful. It provided me with a way of describing my past, present and future. I could put words to what was happening inside me, and it was easy to explain the connections between my changed way of thinking and how that affected my playing. As a way of describing the world around me however, I think it is rather a bit dangerous. There is a risk of projecting values to the different concepts, and then judging people for being too much of the one or the other. When I think about it, it makes a lot more sense to think about it as a duality, as two sides of the same thing. The two sides are always present, whether we want them to or not. The different aspects of them might be stronger or weaker in different contexts, but to me it makes a lot more sense to talk a bout an Art-Function Duality (like the Wave-Particle Duality of Light) rather than an Art-Function Dichotomy.

In many ways, both in my own thinking, and when I’ve been writing this text, I tend to create an oposition also between tradition and art. In the end this is not what I want to do, but in some ways I think that in order to really explore the idea of art and what it is, I have had to leave some of my older perspectives and ideas (like funciton and tradition) behind for a while. In the future, I think the two ideas will move closer to each other again, merging into a useful perspective that provides me with concepts and tools from both sides. At the moment, the idea of art for me is very much an idea of freedom.


The whole description of Function and Art, but in a much shorter way.

Function Art/ist/


Freedom within a framework




Music for the sake of a purpose


Learned through Living



Freedom to explore


Risk taking


Music for it’s own sake


Learned through Education

The list could of course be built on, with opposites like lower/upper class, low/high status, local/universal, oral/written culture but I prefer not to concider the more valuing and judging aspects of the dichotomy.

Constructing this dichotomy lead me to asking a lot of questions.

Do I really need this polarization? What does it do? What does it do to me and what does it do to my art and what does it do to other people and my relationship with them?

In trying to answer these questions, I ended up forming a Duality instead, to create a synthesis of the two different approaches to music. In most places in the text however, I write dichotomy, mostly since that is how I feel that it is most ofthen thought to be.