Monday, August 29, 2011

Any Ideas? (VIII)

[We continue our inventory of Leading Ideas.]

(11)   ♪ ☺ ♫   ζ

This Idea concerns music, and may not be adequately expressible in words.  Nor in music either; rather, in a kind of meta-music, for which we lack a notation.

Initially, children like music – rhythms and tunes – the way they like milk.  There is no idea about it; and if there were, it wouldn’t count for our purposes, being innate.  And there, for many – probably most – the matter rests.  True, one’s taste in music matures, as does one’s taste in food or drink.  But it’s still just one tune, or taste, after another.

Only some few attain to the Idea of music as an autonomous realm, which can be appreciated even by the deaf Beethoven, or as read off a Bach score.

Graham Greene, Stamboul Train (1932):  “From the third-class carriage at the rear of the train  came the sound of a fiddle.  The tune was bare, witty, mathematical.”  Compare experts’ impressionistic descriptions of particular chess-games.  Indeed, the Idea  in its full generality  would probably apply to all sorts of apparently abstract structures:  the Idea being that there is a kind of isomorphism with more intuitive human realms.

I’ll say no more on the subject, since it is not an Idea of which I have a firm grasp.  (No chess move ever struck me as "witty".)

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