The Arts (Art)

by dhw, Friday, September 26, 2008, 09:15 (5739 days ago) @ jwarshawsky

Jwarshawsky has offered us two interesting observations about music: 1) It "creates moods because the sounds are similar to real tonal expressions of sadness [and] joy" and perhaps "its tonality echoes some atavistic vocalization of, say, mourning." 2) Since music can link generations, perhaps "its status in human evolution can be said to run parallel with that of language." - Other animals also vocalize their emotions, and we ourselves continue to emit screams, howls, moans, squeals of horror, anguish, grief, delight etc. The difference, though, is that these are spontaneous responses to outside stimuli, as part of day-to-day living. Music is created for its own sake ... as an aestheticization of emotion ... and it's still hard to pin down what function it serves in the evolutionary pattern. Why do we aestheticize, and why is it so important to us that we do so? - You're right to query my comment about the written word being the only form of direct communication between the generations, because in fact all the arts achieve this. But the written word passes on articulate thought, experience, ideas, knowledge, all of which enable us to learn directly from past generations. Music itself evolves (the chanting monks would never have envisaged Beethoven, and I doubt if Beethoven ever envisaged Philip Glass or hip hop), but unlike language, it doesn't have any apparent relevance to our physical survival. - Richter's idea, which you have quoted, is not dissimilar to BBella's concept of vibrations. Perhaps somehow we are linked up to universal patterns of sound. - As usual, Mr Shakespeare got there before us:
"There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings." - The speech continues: 
"Such harmony is in immortal souls,
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it."
(M. of V. Act 5, Sc. 1) - Many thanks for reopening this thread. It's an endlessly fascinating one.


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