“Existential” is not one of the original seven intelligences I learned in my educational psychology class, but it’s on Wikipedia, so I thought about it, and decided to include it here. At first I thought philosophical, analytical intelligence isn’t its own intelligence. Analysis is usually the ability to find logic, and logic is a function of mathematics, right? One plus two equals three. It just makes sense. And then I thought, analysis is also a function of verbal intelligence, because understanding language is a matter of perceiving function and deriving meaning. Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. The kind of analysis performed by conductors is mostly musical analysis, followed by interpretation. And those are musical and emotional intelligences, right?
But maybe the ability to make connections, the tendency to see details as part of a bigger picture, and the inclination to create a world of meaning from a page of lines and dots or a roomful of sound are the defining characteristics of a conductor. Maybe existential intelligence is a thing. Lord, the description of my blog is “meaning, music, and conducting” because I think finding meaning in my work is my work. And maybe my thrill in considering the world this way is the thing that makes conducting satisfying for me.
I mean, the music is great: learning it, making it. And the physical, kinesthetic part is definitely important. And the emotional, expressive part–both my own internal experience of it and sharing it with fellow performers and an audience. But all of that adds up to something, which makes my experience of conducting an experience of living. And maybe that, and whatever compels me to look at it in the way I do on the blog, are functions of existential intelligence.