Music Composition Quotes

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It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.
Alan W. Watts
While people are fairly young and the musical composition of their lives is still in its opening bars, they can go about writing it together and sharing motifs (the way Tomas and Sabina exchanged the motif of the bowler hat), but if they meet when they are older, like Franz and Sabina, their musical compositions are more or less complete, and every motif, every object, every word means something different to each of them.
Milan Kundera
People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to compositions as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
To reiterate: not all things need to be finished, and free reading is a prime example of this. Writing – or the composition of words which are intended to be read – just like painting, sculpting, or composing music, is a form of art. Typically, not all art is able to resonate with each and every viewer – or, in this case, reader. If we walk through a museum and see a boring painting, or listen to an album we don’t enjoy, we won’t keep staring at said painting, nor will we listen to the album. So, if we don’t like a book, if we aren’t learning from it, dreaming about it, enjoying its descriptions, pondering its messages, or whatever else may be redeeming about a specific book, why would we waste our time to “just finish it?” Sure, we may add another book to the list of books read, but is more always better?
Colin Phelan (The Local School)
[On Chopin's Preludes:] "His genius was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds. His composition of that night was surely filled with raindrops, resounding clearly on the tiles of the Charterhouse, but it had been transformed in his imagination and in his song into tears falling upon his heart from the sky. ... The gift of Chopin is [the expression of] the deepest and fullest feelings and emotions that have ever existed. He made a single instrument speak a language of infinity. He could often sum up, in ten lines that a child could play, poems of a boundless exaltation, dramas of unequalled power.
George Sand (Story of My Life: The Autobiography of George Sand (Women Writers in Translation))
I am in the world only for the purpose of composing.
Franz Schubert
They [human lives] are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven’s music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual’s life. Anna could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unforgettably bound to the birth of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress. It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences (like the meeting of Anna, Vronsky, the railway station, and death or the meeting of Beethoven, Tomas, Tereza, and the cognac), but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life a dimension of beauty.
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.
Jean Sibelius
Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.
Woflgang Amadeus Mozart
Several studies have found that the more a field is culturally understood to require 'brilliance' or 'raw talent' to succeed - think philosophy, maths, physics, music composition, computer science - the fewer women there will be studying and working in it. We just don't see women as naturally brilliant.
Caroline Criado Pérez (Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men)
For the artist, the goal of the painting or musical composition is not to convey literal truth, but an aspect of a universal truth that if successful, will continue to move and to touch people even as contexts, societies and cultures change. For the scientist, the goal of a theory is to convey "truth for now"--to replace an old truth, while accepting that someday this theory, too, will ve replaced by a new "truth," because that is the way science advances.
Daniel J. Levitin (This Is Your Brain on Music)
The eighties are a sorely underrated decade in terms of musical composition. They don’t get nearly the respect they deserve. I try to use my platform in the world to bring attention to this travesty by singing eighties ballads whenever I get the chance.
Emma Chase (Royally Matched (Royally, #2))
The late twentieth century has been the locus of a new lurch on English’s time line in America, where oratorical, poetic, and compositional craft of a rigorously exacting nature has been cast to the margins of the culture.
John McWhorter (Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care)
I was always fishing for something on the radio. Just like trains and bells, it was part of the soundtrack of my life. I moved the dial up and down and Roy Orbison's voice came blasting out of the small speakers. His new song, "Running Scared," exploded into the room. Orbison, though, transcended all the genres - folk, country, rock and roll or just about anything. His stuff mixed all the styles and some that hadn't even been invented yet. He could sound mean and nasty on one line and then sing in a falsetto voice like Frankie Valli in the next. With Roy, you didn't know if you were listening to mariachi or opera. He kept you on your toes. With him, it was all about fat and blood. He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop and he meant business. One of his previous songs, "Ooby Dooby" was deceptively simple, but Roy had progressed. He was now singing his compositions in three or four octaves that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal. Typically, he'd start out in some low, barely audible range, stay there a while and then astonishingly slip into histrionics. His voice could jar a corpse, always leave you muttring to yourself something like, "Man, I don't believe it." His songs had songs within songs. They shifted from major to minor key without any logic. Orbison was deadly serious - no pollywog and no fledgling juvenile. There wasn't anything else on the radio like him.
Bob Dylan (Chronicles, Volume One)
Art, and above all, music has a fundamental function, which is to catalyze the sublimation that it can bring about through all means of expression. It must aim through fixations which are landmarks to draw towards a total exaltation in which the individual mingles, losing his consciousness in a truth immediate, rare, enormous, and perfect. If a work of art succeeds in this undertaking even for a single moment, it attains its goal. This tremendous truth is not made of objects, emotions, or sensations; it is beyond these, as Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is beyond music. This is why art can lead to realms that religion still occupies for some people.
Iannis Xenakis (Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (Harmonologia Series, #6))
I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition." (Said to Leopold Mozart)
Joseph Haydn
Show me that you can divide the notes of a song; But first, show me that you can discern Between what can be divided And what cannot. —An anonymous musical composition inspired by a classical Sanskrit poem
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
Human lives are conmposed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of an individual's life.
Milan Kundera
Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness.
Robert Bringhurst (The Elements of Typographic Style)
History's greatest composers world be rolling in their graves if they knew that their beautiful compositions were reduced to distorted hold music.
Michael P. Naughton (Deathryde: Rebel Without a Corpse)
As Mozart himself wrote to a friend, “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.
Twyla Tharp (The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (Learn In and Use It for Life))
Language is not law; it is in fact a lot like music. Speech is jazz – first you learn the basic rules, and then you become good enough to improvise all the time. Writing is somewhat more like classical composition, where established forms and conditions will hold greater sway.
Robert Lane Greene (You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity)
Human lives...are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence... into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual's life
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
They [human lives] are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitious occurrence (Beethoven’s music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual’s life. Anna could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unfortettably bound to the birth of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.
Milan Kundera
I read once that certain musical compositions (by Bach? by Beethoven? I forget) sounded like the efforts of the human soul to explain itself to God. If ever I find my perfect combination of brown and lilac, I’ll feel as though I’ve thus explained myself.
Gerald Murnane (Something for the Pain: A Memoir of the Turf)
the point of writing music and experiencing music isn’t to make people comfortable necessarily
Philip Glass
Professional musicians, in general, possess what most of us would regard as remarkable powers of musical imagery. Many composers, indeed, do not compose initially or entirely at an instrument but in their minds. There is no more extraordinary example of this than Beethoven, who continued to compose (and whose compositions rose to greater and greater heights) years after he had become totally deaf. It is possible that his musical imagery was even intensified by deafness, for with the removal of normal auditory input, the auditory cortex may become hypersensitive, with heightened powers of musical imagery (and sometimes even auditory hallucinations).
Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia)
Rhyson’s words set my heart free like a stampede of wild notes across a music staff, falling off the lines, running off the page. I’m a composition out of control, without form. Freestyled. Improvised.
Kennedy Ryan (My Soul to Keep (Soul, #1))
It's amazing that schools still offer courses in musical composition. What a useless thing to spend money on -- to take a course in college to learn how to be a modern composer! No matter how good the course is, when you get out, what the fuck will you do for a living? (The easiest thing to do is become a composition teacher yourself, spreading 'the disease' to the next generation.) One of the things that determines the curriculum in music schools is: which of the current fashions in modern music gets the most grant money from the mysterious benefactors in Foundation-Land. For a while there, unless you were doing serial music (in which the pitches have numbers, the dynamics have numbers, the vertical densities have numbers, etc) -- if it didn't have a pedigree like that, it wasn't a good piece of music. Critics and academicians stood by, waiting to tell you what a piece of shit your opus was if your numbers didn't add up. (Forget what it sounded like, or whether it moved anybody, or what it was about. The most important thing was the numbers.
Frank Zappa
Goodbye blank canvases in painting and toneless de-compositions in music—and hello blossoms bearing pollen and melons with their seeds yielding weeds and specific breeds of peppers and capers and boundary layers of aromatic vapors.
A.S. Reisfield (The Perfume of Life: Book One)
He was rowed down from the north in a leather skiff manned by a crew of trolls. His fur cape was caked with candle wax, his brow stained blue by wine - though the latter was seldom noticed due to the fox mask he wore at-all times. A quill in his teeth, a solitary teardrop a-squirm in his palm, he was the young poet prince of Montreal, handsome, immaculate, searching for sturdier doors to nail his poignant verses on. In Manhattan, grit drifted into his ink bottle. In Vienna, his spice box exploded. On the Greek island of Hydra, Orpheus came to him at dawn astride a transparent donkey and restrung his cheap guitar. From that moment on, he shamelessly and willingly exposed himself to the contagion of music. To the secretly religious curiosity of the traveler was added the openly foolhardy dignity of the troubadour. By the time he returned to America, songs were working in him like bees in an attic. Connoisseurs developed cravings for his nocturnal honey, despite the fact that hearts were occasionally stung. Now, thirty years later, as society staggers towards the millennium - nailing and screeching at the while, like an orangutan with a steak knife in its side - Leonard Cohen, his vision, his gift, his perseverance, are finally getting their due. It may be because he speaks to this wounded zeitgeist with particular eloquence and accuracy, it may be merely cultural time-lag, another example of the slow-to-catch-on many opening their ears belatedly to what the few have been hearing all along. In any case, the sparkle curtain has shredded, the boogie-woogie gate has rocked loose from its hinges, and here sits L. Cohen at an altar in the garden, solemnly enjoying new-found popularity and expanded respect. From the beginning, his musical peers have recognized Cohen´s ability to establish succinct analogies among life´s realities, his talent for creating intimate relationships between the interior world of longing and language and the exterior world of trains and violins. Even those performers who have neither "covered" his compositions nor been overtly influenced by them have professed to admire their artfulness: the darkly delicious melodies - aural bouquets of gardenia and thistle - that bring to mind an electrified, de-Germanized Kurt Weill; the playfully (and therefore dangerously) mournful lyrics that can peel the apple of love and the peach of lust with a knife that cuts all the way to the mystery, a layer Cole Porter just could`t expose. It is their desire to honor L. Cohen, songwriter, that has prompted a delegation of our brightest artists to climb, one by one, joss sticks smoldering, the steep and salty staircase in the Tower of Song.
Tom Robbins
I'm not sure why it makes me feel weird to know that people are playing something I had a hand in creating, but it does. It feels too public somehow, like this thing that I do on my own to stay sane doesn't belong completely to me anymore, or something.
Leah Johnson (You Should See Me in a Crown)
Kalkbrenner has made me an offer; that I should study with him for three years, and he will make something really - really out of me. I answered that I know how much I lack; but that I cannot exploit him, and three years is too much. But he has convinced me that I can play admirably when I am in the mood, and badly when I am not; a thing which never happens to him. After close examination he told me that I have no school; that I am on an excellent road, but can slip off the track. That after his death, or when he finally stops playing, there will be no representative of the great piano-forte school. That even if I wish it, I cannot build up a new school without knowing the old one; in a word : that I am not a perfected machine, and that this hampers the flow of my thoughts. That I have a mark in composition; that it would be a pity not to become what I have the promise of being...
Frédéric Chopin
Early in the novel that Tereza clutched under her arm when she went to visit Tomas, Anna meets Vronsky in curious circumstances: they are at the railway station when someone is run over by a train. At the end of the novel, Anna throws herself under a train. This symmetrical composition - the same motif appears at the beginning and at the end - may seem quite "novelistic" to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as "fictive," "fabricated," and "untrue to life" into the word "novelistic." Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion. They are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven's music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual's life. Anna could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unforgettably bound to the birth of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress. It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences (like the meeting of Anna, Vronsky, the railway station, and death or the meeting of Beethoven, Tomas, Tereza, and the cognac), but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.
Milan Kundera
Toccata by Pietro Domenico Paradisi—the one from his Sonata in A Major—come tripping out to meet me. The Toccata was my favorite composition; to my mind it was the greatest musical accomplishment in the entire history of the world, but I knew that if Ophelia found that out,
Alan Bradley (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1))
Rhyson’s words set my heart free like a stampede of wild notes across a music staff, falling off the lines, running off the page. I’m a composition out of control, without form. Freestyled. Improvised. Unsure of where we’re going, but certain that it’s right. Sure that in the end, it will be a thing of beauty. “You
Kennedy Ryan (My Soul to Keep (Soul, #1))
This symmetrical composition- the same motif appears at the beginning and at the end- may seem quite 'novelistic' to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as 'fictive,' 'fabricated,' and 'untrue to life' into the word 'novelistic.' Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion. They are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven's music, death under a train), into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual's life... Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress... The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful.
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
It allows for free personal expression like painting, musical composition or writing and yet fulfils a most practical need: the need to eat. Edible art. What could be better?
Stanley Tucci (Taste: My Life Through Food)
A theory was forming in his head, like a musical composition he could hum from vague memories but not quite yet name or play.
Jeff VanderMeer (Authority (Southern Reach #2))
Why is it that of every hundred gifted young musicians who study at Juilliard or every hundred brilliant young scientists who go to work in major labs under illustrious mentors, only a handful will write memorable musical compositions or make scientific discoveries of major importance? Are the majority, despite their gifts, lacking in some further creative spark? Are they missing characteristics other than creativity that may be essential for creative achievement—such as boldness, confidence, independence of mind? It takes a special energy, over and above one’s creative potential, a special audacity or subversiveness, to strike out in a new direction once one is settled. It is a gamble as all creative projects must be, for the new direction may not turn out to be productive at all. Creativity involves not only years of conscious preparation and training but unconscious preparation as well. This incubation period is essential to allow the subconscious assimilation and incorporation of one’s influences and sources, to reorganize and synthesize them into something of one’s own. In Wagner’s overture to Rienzi, one can almost trace this emergence. There are echoes, imitations, paraphrases, pastiches of Rossini, Meyerbeer, Schumann, and others—all the musical influences of his apprenticeship. And then, suddenly, astoundingly, one hears Wagner’s own voice: powerful, extraordinary (though, to my mind, horrible), a voice of genius, without precedent or antecedent. The essential element in these realms of retaining and appropriating versus assimilating and incorporating is one of depth, of meaning, of active and personal involvement.
Oliver Sacks (The River of Consciousness)
I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son (W A Mozart)is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition.
Joseph Haydn
Show me that you can divide the notes of a song; But first, show me that you can discern Between what can be divided And what cannot. —An anonymous musical composition inspired by a classical Sanskrit poem Abhed
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
In other words, evolution is neither a free-for-all, nor the execution of a rigidly predetermined computer programme. It could be compared to a musical composition whose possibilities are limited by the rules of harmony and the structure of the diatonic scales-which, however, permit an inexhaustible number of original creations. Or it could be compared to the game of chess obeying fixed rules but with equally inexhaustible variations.
Arthur Koestler (The Ghost in the Machine)
Could he make a painting as emotional and epic as a Wagner opera? Not with the intention of replicating the maestro’s music, but to produce a parallel experience where colors were the notes and their composition the tonality.
Will Gompertz (What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art)
Dear Julie: If I didn't feel that there is some good in your story, I wouldn't take the time to write a criticism of it. But there is some good in it, some points that make me feel that if you expend the effort(Look who's talking about expending the effort, I couldn't help thinking) you may well achieve your very worthy ambition. First of all, you have an ear for cadence. Your sentences flow rather smoothly, and the continuity of your paragraphs is quite good. Secondly, your imagery is sharp and clear-cut. I could smell that dank, rat-infested attic and I was more than a little in love with your pretty heroine by the time she emerged from her third paragraph. Furthermore, you occasionally achieve poetic effects which are pleasing. But, my darling niece, your villains have nothing but venom in their souls, and your sympathetic characters are ready to step right off into Paradise without one spot to tarnish their purity. People aren't like that, Julie. Take a look around you. Again, all your colors, your moods, your nusances, are essentially feminine, and it just doesn't ring true to be told that a man is responsible for them. No, Julie, it will be a long time before you speak and think and feel like an anguished old German musician of eighty! And, after all, what do you know about the problems of musical composition, or the life of an impoverised German laborer such as the landlord in his nineteenth-century environment? And how much do you know about sadism and brutality? I must talk to you about any number of points. When you get home from school tomorrow, I shall have some recommendations to make; also some assignments. I am quite excited. It well may be that I have the making of a future writer in my hands. Uncle Haskell
Irene Hunt (Up a Road Slowly)
With respect to excellence of style and composition, it may perhaps be said that to practised ears the most pleasing music is such as has the merit of novelty, added to refinement, and ingenious contrivance; and to the ignorant, such as is most familiar and common.
Charles Burney
The performing musician was now expected to write and create for two very different spaces: the live venue, and the device that could play a recording or receive a transmission. Socially and acoustically, these spaces were worlds apart. But the compositions were expected to be the same!
David Byrne (How Music Works)
One day in 1948 or 1949, the Brentwood County Mart, a shopping complex in an upscale neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, was the scene of a slight disturbance that carried overtones of the most spectacular upheaval in twientieth-century music. Marta Feuchtwanger, wife of émigré novelist Lion Feuchtwanger, was examining grapefruit in the produce section when she heard a voice shouting German from the far end of the aisle. She looked up to see Arnold Schoenberg, the pioneer of atonal music and the codifier of twelve-tone composition, bearing down on her, with his bald pate and burning eyes. Decades later, in conversation with the writer Lawrence Weschler, Feuchtwanger could recall every detail of the encounter, including the weight of the grapefruit in her hand. “Lies, Frau Marta, lies!” Schoenberg was yelling. “You have to know, I never had syphilis!
Alex Ross
Grace was pouring out everywhere, from hidden sounds, into Els's damaged auditory cortex. And all that secret, worldwide composition said the same thing: listen closer, listen smaller, listen lighter, to any noise at all, and hear what the world will still sound like, long after your concert ends.
Richard Powers
In the music class, in the ballads she sang, there was no question of anything but little golden-winged angels, madonnas, lagoons, gondoliers, peaceful compositions which allowed her to glimpse, through the inanity of language and the forced notes, the enticing phantasmagoria of sentimental truths.
Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary)
Inside each man, though he did not know it, nor ever considered it, was the image of the woman he someday must love. Whether she was composed of all the music he had ever heard or all the trees he had ever seen or all the friends of his childhood, certainly no one could tell. Whether the eyes were his mother's, and the chin that of a girl cousin swimming in a summer lake twenty-five years ago, this was unknowable also. But most men carried this image, like a locket, like a pearl-cameo, in their head a lifetime, taking it out only rarely, taking it never, after marriage, afraid then to compare it to the reality. And most men never saw the woman they would love anywhere, in the dark theatre, in a book, or passing on the street. They saw her only after midnight when the city was asleep and the pillow was cool under their heads. And she was a composite of all dreams and all women and every moonlit night since the calendar began
Ray Bradbury (Summer Morning, Summer Night)
EMBRACE YOUR TRANSFORMATIONS Transformations are a part of life. We are constantly being changed by things changing around us. Nobody can control that. Nobody can control the environment, the economy, luck, or the moods of others. Compositions change. Positions change. Dispositions change. Experiences change. Opportunities and attitudes change. YOU will change. Never say never unless you can predict the future. Do not only remember people when you are down. Be good to others and always give to others when you can. Every man will fall at some point in their life. But do remember, you are a reflection of the universe and every man experiences the seasons within. Meaning, you will fall many times, but also spring back up. You will have sunny days, but also many bad days where you feel like dying. You never know when you will need help, and help will only remember you if you were good to them when you were UP. Not a singe wave is constant. You are no different. You are like music, a moving composition of vibrations and waves. You will experience happiness, sadness, pain and loss many times. Just learn to enjoy the music and never take setbacks too seriously. They are only temporary. And whenever you do fall , just remember that spring is just around the corner.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
The bowler hat was a motif in the musical composition that was Sabina’s life. It returned again and again, each time with a different meaning, and all the meanings flowed through the bowler hat like water through a riverbed. I might call it Heraclitus’ (“You can’t step twice into the same river”) riverbed: the bowler hat was a bed through which each time Sabina saw another river flow, another semantic River: each time the same object would give rise to a new meaning, though all former meanings would resonate (like an echo, like a parade of echoes) together with the new one. Each new experience would resound, each time enriching the harmony.
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
All of these are reminders of the face char seven primitive and primary spirits have become incarnated in the composite structure of man and that the Elohim are actually within his own nature, where from their seven thrones they are molding him into a septenary creature. One of these Elohim, which corresponds to a color, a musical note, a planetary vibration, and a mystical dimension, is the key consciousness of every kingdom in Nature. The Elohim also rake turns in controlling the life of the human being. According to the ancient Brahmins, the Lord of the human race is keyed to the musical note fa, and His vibration runs through the minute tube in the spinal column.
Manly P. Hall (Melchizedek and the Mystery of Fire)
Classical education was based on the seven liberal arts or sciences: grammar, the formal structures of language; rhetoric, composition and presentation of argument; dialectic, formal logic; arithmetic; geometry; music; astronomy.14 For centuries, the classics dominated the very idea of being educated and attempts at reform were resisted.
Ken Robinson (Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative)
In mystical literature such self-contradictory phrases as "dazzling obscurity," "whispering silence," "teeming desert," are continually met with. They prove that not conceptual speech, but music rather, is the element through which we are best spoken to by mystical truth. Many mystical scriptures are indeed little more than musical compositions. "He who would hear the voice of Nada, 'the Soundless Sound,' and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana…. When to himself his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees in dreams, when he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the ONE—the inner sound which kills the outer…. For then the soul will hear, and will remember. And then to the inner ear will speak THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE…. And now thy SELF is lost in SELF, THYSELF unto THYSELF, merged in that SELF from which thou first didst radiate.. . . Behold! thou hast become the Light, thou hast become the Sound, thou art thy Master and thy God. Thou art THYSELF the object of thy search: the VOICE unbroken, that resounds throughout eternities, exempt from change, from sin exempt, the seven sounds in one, the VOICE OF THE SILENCE. Om tat Sat."[277] [277] H. P. Blavatsky: The voice of the Silence. These words, if they do not awaken laughter as you receive them, probably stir chords within you which music and language touch in common. Music gives us ontological messages which non-musical criticism is unable to contradict, though it may laugh at our foolishness in minding them. There is a verge of the mind which these things haunt; and whispers therefrom mingle with the operations of our understanding, even as the waters of the infinite ocean send their waves to break among the pebbles that lie upon our shores.
William James (Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature)
In 1857, Bizet departed for Rome and spent three years there. He studied the landscape, the culture, Italian literature and art. Musically he studied the scores of the great masters. At the end of the first year he was asked to submit a religious work as his required composition. As a self-described atheist, Bizet felt uneasy and hypocritical writing a religious piece. Instead, he submitted a comic opera. Publicly, the committee accepted, acknowledging his musical talent. Privately, the committee conveyed their displeasure. Thus, early in his career, Bizet displayed an independent spirit that would be reflected in innovative ideas in his opera composition. [The Pearl Fishers - Georges Bizet, Virginia Opera]
Georges Bizet (The Pearl Fishers: French, English Language Edition, Vocal Score (Kalmus Edition) (French Edition))
Did I live? The human world is like a vast musical instrument on which we play our individual part while simultaneously listening to the compositions of others in an effort to contribute to the whole. We don't chose whether to engage, only how to; we either harmonize or create dissonance. Our words, our deeds, our very presence create and leave impressions in the minds of others just as a writer makes impressions with their words. Who you are is an unfolding narrative. You came from nothing and will return there eventually. Instead of taking ourselves so seriously all the time, we can discover the playful irony of a story that has never been told in quite this way before. -- Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs
Stephen Batchelor
Every man will fall at some point in their life. But do remember, you are a reflection of the universe and every man experiences the seasons within. Meaning, you will fall many times, but also spring back up. You will have sunny days, but also many bad days where you feel like dying. You never know when you will need help, and help will only remember you if you were good to them when you were UP. Not a singe wave is constant. You are no different. You are like music, a moving composition of vibrations and waves. You will experience happiness, sadness, pain and loss many times. Just learn to enjoy the music and never take setbacks too seriously. They are only temporary. And whenever you do fall, just remember that spring is just around the corner.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Whether one calls oneself conservative or revolutionary, whether one composes in a conventional or progressive manner, whether one tries to imitate old styles or is destined to express new ideas -- whether one is a good composer or not -- one must be convinced of the infallibility of one's own fantasy and one must believe in one's own inspiration. ("Composition with Twelve Tones")
Arnold Schoenberg (Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold Schoenberg)
Music differs from, say, travel. When you travel, you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… because that’s the end!
Alan Watts
classical style, and is likely to be adapted to other musical genres in the future. Like Eureqa, Iamus has resulted in a start-up company to commercialize the technology. Melomics Media, Inc., has been set up to sell the music from an iTunes-like online store. The difference is that compositions created by Iamus are offered on a royalty-free basis, allowing purchasers to use the music in any
Martin Ford (Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future)
Jan Garbarek about Keith Jarrett: “What people don’t consider is all his wonderful ways of accompanying his own melodies. That is only that version. But I’ve played with him so many nights and they were all different!... The way he voiced things and the inner lines he played behind the melody, and his own compositions were often radically different, but no less beautiful… It’s hard to believe!
Ian Carr (Keith Jarrett: The Man And His Music)
What is the value of sensitives? Look around: we live in a ugly and stupid world which could have been prevented if sensitives had been present, and had the power to influence things. That block-shaped, pressed concrete, ugly shopping mall? The princess would opine that no one could have any peace of mind with such hideous backgrounds, and demand something like a traditional building, with ornate spires and comfortable human spaces instead. Grating, two-note music ranting about copulation and projected sexual desire? No princess would want this crass gibberish around her, nor would she recognize music which neglected the finer parts of composition, melody, harmony, rhythm, and narrative. She would hire Schubert instead. Schools that treat students like livestock, jobs that are jails, marriages that are suicide pacts, and boring tract housing? Similarly, a princess would have no use for those, and perceive that these would be abusive to her so must be to others as well. As children, we made fun of the sensitivity of the princess. A pea, under twenty mattresses, really? The point — in the visual-metaphorical language of fable, religion, literature, and conspiracy theory — tells us that sensitivity is in fact needed, and it needs power to save the rest of us from what we do not yet perceive. In this story, the princess is simply a finer instrument. After twenty years, we might notice that we woke up tired in the mornings, and eventually investigate and find the pea, but she knew right away, intuitively and by the nature of her character. This is part of what makes an aristocrat.
Brett Stevens
The several duties of instruction in this establishment were thus discharged. English grammar, composition, geography, and the use of the dumb-bells, by Miss Melissa Wackles; writing, arithmetic, dancing, music, and general fascination, by Miss Sophia Wackles; the art of needle-work, marking, and samplery, by Miss Jane Wackles; corporal punishment, fasting, and other tortures and terrors, by Mrs Wackles.
Charles Dickens (The Old Curiosity Shop)
Yet it is hard to see why artistic creation would be safe from the algorithms. Why are we so confident that computers will never be able to outdo us in the composition of music? According to the life sciences, art is not the product of some enchanted spirit or metaphysical soul, but rather of organic algorithms recognising mathematical patterns. If so, there is no reason why non-organic algorithms couldn’t master it.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
If you cannot drop a wrong problem, then the first time you meet one you will be stuck with it for the rest of your career. Einstein was tremendously creative in his early years, but once he began, in midlife, the search for a unified theory, he spent the rest of his life on it and had about nothing to show for all the effort. I have seen this many times while watching how science is done. It is most likely to happen to the very creative people; their previous successes convince them they can solve any problem, but there are other reasons besides overconfidence why, in many fields, sterility sets in with advancing age. Managing a creative career is not an easy task, or else it would often be done. In mathematics, theoretical physics, and astrophysics, age seems to be a handicap (all characterized by high, raw creativity), while in music composition, literature, and statesmanship, age and experience seem to be an asset. As valued by Bell Telephone Laboratories in the late 1970s, the first 15 years of my career included all they listed, and for my second 15 years they listed nothing I was very closely associated with! Yes, in my areas the really great things are generally done while the person is young, much as in athletics, and in old age you can turn to coaching (teaching), as I have done. Of course, I do not know your field of expertise to say what effect age will have, but I suspect really great things will be realized fairly young, though it may take years to get them into practice. My advice is if you want to do significant things, now is the time to start thinking (if you have not already done so) and not wait until it is the proper moment—which may never arrive!
Richard Hamming (The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn)
The eighties are a sorely underrated decade in terms of musical composition. They don’t get nearly the respect they deserve. I try to use my platform in the world to bring attention to this travesty by singing eighties ballads whenever I get the chance. Like right now, as I sing “What About Me” by Moving Pictures on the karaoke stage. It was their one-hit wonder and a soul-stirring exercise in self-pity. My eyes are closed as I belt out the lyrics and sway behind he microphone. Not in time to the music—I’m so pissed, I’m lucky to still be standing at all. Usually I play the guitar too, but my fine-motor functions fell by the wayside hours ago. I’m a fantastic musician—not that anyone really notices. That talent gets lost in the shadow of the titles, the same way the talented offspring of two accomplished stars get discounted by the weight of their household name. My mother gave me my love of music—she played several instruments. I had tutors, first for the piano, then the violin—but it was the guitar that really stuck with me. The karaoke stage at The Goat used to be my second home and in the last few hours, I’ve given serious consideration to moving in beneath it. If Harry Potter was the Boy Under the Stairs, I could be the Prince Under the Stage. Why the fuck not?
Emma Chase (Royally Matched (Royally, #2))
Much of the colony’s musical experimenting was, quite consciously, concerned with what might be called “time span.” What was the briefest note that the mind could grasp—or the longest that it could tolerate without boredom? Could the result be varied by conditioning or by the use of appropriate orchestration? Such problems were discussed endlessly, and the arguments were not purely academic. They had resulted in some extremely interesting compositions. But it was in the art of the cartoon film, with its limitless possibilities, that New Athens had made its most successful experiments. The hundred years since the time of Disney had still left much undone in this most flexible of all mediums. On the purely realistic side, results could be produced indistinguishable from actual photography—much to the contempt of those who were developing the cartoon along abstract lines.
Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood's End)
Once music is detached from function, once it becomes a repertory art, it explicitly strives to define itself, out of itself, to become "mathemat- ical"—that is to say, to begin from premises and proceed to conclusions by interpreting its own universe, finding its own laws. Systems of harmony and counterpoint become tools for elaborate musical explorations. A great deal of Western music is as much a manifestation of idealism as is mathematics.
Edward Rothstein (Emblems of Mind: The Inner Life of Music and Mathematics)
Our sense of a composition largely inheres in how we feel about the individual parts; narrative arcs are almost always essential in drama but (unless there are lyrics involved) often less essential in music. All of this is, I suspect, again symptomatic of human memory limitations. We live, to a remarkable degree, in the present; what happened thirty seconds ago is already rapidly fading from our memory (or at least rapidly becomes harder for us to retrieve).
Gary F. Marcus (Guitar Zero)
Inside each man, though he did not know it, nor ever considered it, was the image of the woman he someday must love. Whether she was composed of all the music he had ever heard or all the trees he had ever seen or all the friends of his childhood, certainly no one could tell. Whether the eyes were his mother's, and the chin that of a girl cousin swimming in a summer lake twenty-five years ago, this was unknowable also. But most men carried this image, like a locket, like a pearl-cameo, in their head a lifetime, taking it out only rarely, taking it never, after marriage, afraid then to compare it to the reality. And most men never saw the woman they would love anywhere, in the dark theatre, in a book, or passing on the street. They saw her only after midnight when the city was asleep and the pillow was cool under their heads. And she was a composite of all dreams and all women and every moonlit night since the calendar began.
Ray Bradbury
One cannot deny that Duruflé's improvisations and compositions had their source and their summit in a climate of belief. And to that extent it may be said that his work as a liturgical organist 'becomes a real meditation. There is not merely a an auditory delight, as refined as it might be, and God knows that Maurice Duruflé was refined, but an interior elevation that disposes the heart and spirit of others to the the infinite encounter, to the radiance of divine contact.
James E. Frazier (Maurice Durufle: The Man and His Music)
Education is one of the Grand Christianson Obsessions. They’ve been whole years my mother’s kept us home for intensive private study. As a result of that, Paul will perform the first brain transplant, James will someday build a bridge across the Atlantic Ocean, Charlie – who is an actual musical genius – will probably end up writing the Great American Symphony, and I – I know a little bit about a lot of things. I can tell you the chemical composition of the stuff your stick in your hair; how long it would take you, at just under the speed of light, to get to Alpha Centauri – and how old your body would be when you finally got there; the middle name of the third president of the United States; the amount of the present budget deficit; the author of the Brothers Karamazov, and how many feet there are in a line of trochaic heptameter. The Little Girl Who Had to Know Why, Paul used to call me. But even my mother couldn’t reconcile me and math.
Kristen D. Randle (The Only Alien on the Planet)
Celestial Music” I have a friend who still believes in heaven. Not a stupid person, yet with all she knows, she literally talks to god, she thinks someone listens in heaven. On earth, she’s unusually competent. Brave, too, able to face unpleasantness. We found a caterpillar dying in the dirt, greedy ants crawling over it. I’m always moved by weakness, by disaster, always eager to oppose vitality. But timid, also, quick to shut my eyes. Whereas my friend was able to watch, to let events play out according to nature. For my sake, she intervened, brushing a few ants off the torn thing, and set it down across the road. My friend says I shut my eyes to god, that nothing else explains my aversion to reality. She says I’m like the child who buries her head in the pillow so as not to see, the child who tells herself that light causes sadness— My friend is like the mother. Patient, urging me to wake up an adult like herself, a courageous person— In my dreams, my friend reproaches me. We’re walking on the same road, except it’s winter now; she’s telling me that when you love the world you hear celestial music: look up, she says. When I look up, nothing. Only clouds, snow, a white business in the trees like brides leaping to a great height— Then I’m afraid for her; I see her caught in a net deliberately cast over the earth— In reality, we sit by the side of the road, watching the sun set; from time to time, the silence pierced by a birdcall. It’s this moment we’re both trying to explain, the fact that we’re at ease with death, with solitude. My friend draws a circle in the dirt; inside, the caterpillar doesn’t move. She’s always trying to make something whole, something beautiful, an image capable of life apart from her. We’re very quiet. It’s peaceful sitting here, not speaking, the composition fixed, the road turning suddenly dark, the air going cool, here and there the rocks shining and glittering— it’s this stillness that we both love. The love of form is a love of endings.
Louise Glück (Ararat)
[Human lives] are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven's music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual's life. […] Without realizing it, the individual com-poses his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress. […] It is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty. (2.11.4-5)
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
[Human lives] are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual tranforms a fortuitous occurrence into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual's life. Anna [Karenina] could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unforgettably bound to the birt of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. ...It is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty".
Milan Kundera
Choreographer Twyla Tharp, who directed the opera and dance scenes for the film Amadeus, has this to say about the film’s portrait of Mozart: There are no ‘natural’ geniuses… No-one worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose… As Mozart himself wrote to a friend, “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.
Mark McGuinness (Time Management For Creative People)
M. Vinteuil...carried politeness and consideration for others to such scrupulous lengths, always putting himself in their place, that he was afraid of boring them, or of appearing egotistical, if he carried out or even allowed them to suspect what were his own desires. On the day when my parents had gone to pay him a visit, I had accompanied them, but they had allowed me to remain outside, and as M. Vinteuil's house, Montjouvain, stood at the foot of a bushy hillock where I went to hide, I had found myself on a level with his drawing-room, upstairs, and only a few feet away from its window. When the servant came in to tell him that my parents had arrived, I had seen M. Vinteuil hurriedly place a sheet of music in a prominent position on the piano. But as soon as they entered the room he had snatched it away and put it in a corner. He was afraid, no doubt, of letting them suppose that he was glad to see them only because it gave him a chance of playing them some of his compositions. And every time that my mother, in the course of her visit, had returned to the subject he had hurriedly protested: 'I can't think who put that on the piano; it's not the proper place for it at all,' and had turned the conversation aside to other topics, precisely because they were of less interest to himself.
Marcel Proust (Du côté de chez Swann (À la recherche du temps perdu, #1))
I can take one individual note out of the music I am trying to write at the moment, and ti could belong anywhere. Yet where it sits, where I have placed it, it follows what came before and leads to what comes after. Without it the whole would not be as it is. As the composer I must know each individual note in order to make the whole. Like the colors on an artist's palette, on their own the notes are absolute, yet when they are placed in a particular work, their individuality becomes one with the whole. They have to be chosen for what they are - red, yellow, blue - but with the effect of their combined potential in mind. It is necessary to know the parts in order to make up the whole. It applies to music, to art, and to life itself, I think. When you listen to the finished composition, or when you go about living your life, the individual components join to make a whole that can so easily be taken for granted. But it is not until you become aware of the parts that you can begin to understand the miracle. It took me almost a lifetime to start searching for the sounds, the notes that make my life's music. And it required a sacrifice so enormous that it did away with all that had made my life meaningful. But in the total silence that came afterward, I finally heard a first single note, and others slowly followed. (5)
Linda Olsson (Sonata for Miriam)
Sometimes guitar riffs get repeated over and over ("vamping," in the lingo of musicians), but generally there is a soloist proving variation that runs above that background, lest the song sound monotonous. Philip Glass's minimalist compositions (such as the soundtrack to 'Koyaanisqatsi') deviate from much of the classical music that preceded them, with much less obvious movement than, say, the Romantic-era compositions that his work seems to rebel against, yet his works, too, consist not only of extensive repetition but also of constant (though subtle) variation. Virtually every song you've ever heard consists of exactly that: themes that recur over and over, overlaid with variations.
Gary F. Marcus (Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning)
Every relation between forms in a painting is to some degree adaptable to the painter's purpose. This is not the case with photography. Composition in the profound, formative sense of the word cannot enter into photography. The true content of a photograph is invisible, for it derives from a play, not with form, but with time. One might argue that photography is as close to music as to painting. I have said that a photograph bears witness to a human choice being exercised. The choice is not between photographing X and Y: but between photographing at X moment or at Y moment. The objects recorded in any photograph (from the most effective to the most commonplace) carry approximately the same weight, the same conviction. What varies is the intensity with which we are made aware of the poles of absence and presence. A photograph, while recording what has been seen, always and by its nature refers to what is not seen. It isolates, preserves, and presents a moment taken from a continuum. The only decision (the still photographer) can take is as regards the moment he chooses to isolate. Yet this apparent limitation gives the photograph its unique power. The immediate relation between what is present and what is absent is particular to each photograph: it may be that of ice to sun, of grief to tragedy, of a smile to a pleasure, of a body to love, of a winning race-horse to the race it has run.
John Berger (Understanding a Photograph)
I welcome the liberation of music from the prison of melody, rigid structure, and harmony. Why not? But I also listen to music that does adhere to those guidelines. Listening to the Music of the Spheres might be glorious, but I crave a concise song now and then, a narrative or a snapshot more than a whole universe. I can enjoy a movie or read a book in which nothing much happens, but I'm deeply conservative as well—if a song establishes itself within a pop genre, then I listen with certain expectations. I can become bored more easily by a pop song that doesn't play by its own rules than by a contemporary composition that is repetitive and static. I like a good story and I also like staring at the sea—do I have to choose between the two?
David Byrne (How Music Works)
Simonton finds that on average, creative geniuses weren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers. They simply produced a greater volume of work, which gave them more variation and a higher chance of originality. “The odds of producing an influential or successful idea,” Simonton notes, are “a positive function of the total number of ideas generated.” Consider Shakespeare: we’re most familiar with a small number of his classics, forgetting that in the span of two decades, he produced 37 plays and 154 sonnets. Simonton tracked the popularity of Shakespeare’s plays, measuring how often they’re performed and how widely they’re praised by experts and critics. In the same five-year window that Shakespeare produced three of his five most popular works—Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello—he also churned out the comparatively average Timon of Athens and All’s Well That Ends Well, both of which rank among the worst of his plays and have been consistently slammed for unpolished prose and incomplete plot and character development. In every field, even the most eminent creators typically produce a large quantity of work that’s technically sound but considered unremarkable by experts and audiences. When the London Philharmonic Orchestra chose the 50 greatest pieces of classical music, the list included six pieces by Mozart, five by Beethoven, and three by Bach. To generate a handful of masterworks, Mozart composed more than 600 pieces before his death at thirty-five, Beethoven produced 650 in his lifetime, and Bach wrote over a thousand. In a study of over 15,000 classical music compositions, the more pieces a composer produced in a given five-year window, the greater the spike in the odds of a hit. Picasso’s oeuvre includes more than 1,800 paintings, 1,200 sculptures, 2,800 ceramics, and 12,000 drawings, not to mention prints, rugs, and tapestries—only a fraction of which have garnered acclaim. In poetry, when we recite Maya Angelou’s classic poem “Still I Rise,” we tend to forget that she wrote 165 others; we remember her moving memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and pay less attention to her other 6 autobiographies. In science, Einstein wrote papers on general and special relativity that transformed physics, but many of his 248 publications had minimal impact. If you want to be original, “the most important possible thing you could do,” says Ira Glass, the producer of This American Life and the podcast Serial, “is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.” Across fields, Simonton reports that the most prolific people not only have the highest originality; they also generate their most original output during the periods in which they produce the largest volume.* Between the ages of thirty and thirty-five, Edison pioneered the lightbulb, the phonograph, and the carbon telephone. But during that period, he filed well over one hundred patents for other inventions as diverse as stencil pens, a fruit preservation technique, and a way of using magnets to mine iron ore—and designed a creepy talking doll. “Those periods in which the most minor products appear tend to be the same periods in which the most major works appear,” Simonton notes. Edison’s “1,093 patents notwithstanding, the number of truly superlative creative achievements can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Adam M. Grant (Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World)
Next I tested my pupils for ingenuity. I handed out random materials and instructed them to improvise potentially lifesaving objects. ‘This ancient skill is known as MacGyvering,’ I told them. Sadly, none of my inaugural group of students was a child of Hephaestus, so no one did very well with this assignment. When I hinted to Perseus that he could hammer and polish his Celestial bronze to make a mirrored shield, he rolled his eyes and scoffed, ‘What would I ever use that for?’ Likewise, most failed miserably with musical composition. Only Jason came up with something memorable: a mesmerizing stomp-stomp CLAP rhythm that so stirred the blood we adopted it as our prebattle beat. (You can still hear that stomp-stomp CLAP rhythm pounded out at athletic competitions today, along with the chant ‘We will, we will … ROCK YOU!’) It was clear that the demigods had a lot to learn.
Rick Riordan (Camp Half-Blood Confidential (Percy Jackson and the Olympians))
But what does the role of the anima as guide to the inner world mean in practical terms? This positive function occurs when a man takes seriously the feelings, moods, expectations, and fantasies sent by his anima and when he fixes them in some form—for example, in writing, painting, sculpture, musical composition, or dancing. When he works at this patiently and slowly, other more deeply unconscious material wells up from the depths and connects with the earlier material. After a fantasy has been fixed in some specific form, it must be examined both intellectually and ethically, with an evaluating feeling reaction. And it is essential to regard it as being absolutely real; there must be no lurking doubt that this is “only a fantasy.” If this is practiced with devotion over a long period, the process of individuation gradually becomes the single reality and can unfold in its true form.
C.G. Jung (Man and His Symbols)
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "art of the Muses"). The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their recreation in performance), through improvisational music to aleatoric forms. Music can be divided into genres and subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to personal interpretation, and occasionally controversial. Within the arts, music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art, and auditory art. It may also be divided among art music and folk music. There is also a strong connection between music and mathematics. Music may be played and heard live, may be part of a dramatic work or film, or may be recorded. To many people in many cultures, music is an important part of their way of life. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies and vertically as harmonies. Common sayings such as "the harmony of the spheres" and "it is music to my ears" point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to. However, 20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, "There is no noise, only sound. Musicologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez summarizes the relativist, post-modern viewpoint: "The border between music and noise is always culturally defined—which implies that, even within a single society, this border does not always pass through the same place; in short, there is rarely a consensus ... By all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be.
Music (Sing for Joy Songbook)
I dial her mum's number, then sit down cross-legged, facing the wall. When she comes on the line, she sounds uncertain, hesitant. 'Hey! Guess where I am?' I ask, my voice loud with false cheer. 'Rami told me. The Wellesly Hospital in Worthing. What's it like?' 'For a loony-bin it's actually quite decent,' I reply. 'I don't have Sky or an en-suite, and the menu isn't exactly à la carte, but you know...' I tail off. There is a silence. 'Do you have your own room?' Jenna asks, 'Oh yeah, yeah. I have a lovely view of the sea between the bars of my window.' She doesn't laugh. 'Have you started' -there is a pause as she searches for the right word -'threatment?' 'Yeah, yeah. We had group therapy today. Tomorrow we'll probably have art therapy - maybe I'll draw you a hourse and a garden. I know, perhaps they'll teach us to make baskets! Isn't that why they call us basket cases?' 'Flynn, stop,' Jennah softly implores. 'And we'll probably have music therapy the day after. Maybe I'll get to play the tambourine. Or the triangle. I've always wanted to play the triangle!' 'Flynn-' 'No, I'm serious! I'll ask for some manuscript paper and see if I can write a composition for tambourine and triangle. Then I can post if off to you to hand in for my next composition assignment.' 'Flynn, listen-' 'Hold on, hold on! I'm making a note to myself now: Find fellow insane musician and start composing the Flynn Laukonen Sonata for Tambourine and Triangle.' 'Flynn-' 'And then, when they let me out, if they ever let me out, perhaps you could pull a few strigns and organize for me and my tambourine buddy to give a recital. I'm not sure where though -how about the subway at Marble Arch tube? Nice and central, good acoustics-' 'What are the other people like?' Jennah cuts in, an edge to her voice. I notice she doesn't use the word patients. Clever Jennah. For a moment there you almost made me forget I was locked up in a mental institution. 'Round the bend, just like me,' I reply. 'I'm in excellent company. We'll be swapping suicide tips in no time at all!' I give a harsh laugh.
Tabitha Suzuma (A Voice in the Distance (Flynn Laukonen, #2))
On Contemporary Jazz—‘Bebop’” (from a handwritten journal dated February 24–May 5, 1947) focuses more intently on the effects of speed and virtuosity on stylistic changes in the jazz idiom, as embodied in the playing of figures such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk—all of whom Kerouac had seen perform in New York’s Fifty-second Street jazz clubs by the mid-1940s. Flexing his talents as a music writer, Kerouac presents an informed, condensed jazz history of the 1930s and 1940s. He not only recognizes the significance of bebop’s modern, avant-garde revision of jazz’s compositional vocabulary, but views those compositional developments in rhythm and harmony as the virtuosic equivalent of the European classical tradition. If “A Couple of Facts Concerning Laws of Decadence” displays Kerouac’s tendency at times to sentimentalize the premodern, this early essay on bebop valorizes propulsive, forward-looking art, the avant-garde abandon that came to characterize American expressive culture in the decades following World War II.
Jack Kerouac (The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished & Newly Translated Writings)
The next day, he read to me a freshly composed dirge in which the circumstances of his wife’s death and burial were commemorated. He read it in a voice quavering with emotion, and the hand that held the paper was trembling. When he had finished, he asked me whether the verses were worthy of the treasure that he had lost. “They are,” I said. “They may lack poetic inspiration,” he remarked, after a moment’s hesitation, “but no one can deny them sentiment—although possibly the sentiment itself prejudices the merits…” “Not in my opinion. I find the poem perfect.” “Yes, I suppose, when you consider…Well, after all, it’s just a few lines written by a sailor.” “By a sailor who happens to be also a poet.” He shrugged his shoulders, looked at the paper, and recited his composition again, but this time without quavering or trembling, emphasizing the literary qualities and bringing out the imagery and music in the verses. When he had finished, he expressed the opinion that it was the most finished of his works, and I agreed. He shook my hand and predicted a great future for me.
Machado de Assis (Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas)
An interesting question is whether symmetry with respect to translation, and indeed reflection and rotation too, is limited to the visual arts, or may be exhibited by other artistic forms, such as pieces of music. Evidently, if we refer to the sounds, rather than to the layout of the written musical score, we would have to define symmetry operations in terms other than purely geometrical, just as we did in the case of the palindromes. Once we do that, however, the answer to the question, Can we find translation-symmetric music? is a resounding yes. As Russian crystal physicist G. V. Wulff wrote in 1908: "The spirit of music is rhythm. It consists of the regular, periodic repetition of parts of the musical composition...the regular repetition of identical parts in the whole constitutes the essence of symmetry." Indeed, the recurring themes that are so common in musical composition are the temporal equivalents of Morris's designs and symmetry under translation. Even more generally, compositions are often based on a fundamental motif introduced at the beginning and then undergoing various metamorphoses.
Mario Livio (The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry)
happening. He went into a restaurant and sat down. A radio was blaring out the latest composition in dissarythm, the new quarter-tone dance music in which chorded woodwinds provided background patterns for the mad melodies pounded on tuned tomtoms. Between each number and the next a frenetic announcer extolled the virtues of a product. Munching a sandwich, Roger listened appreciatively to the dissarhythm and managed not to hear the commercials. Most intelligent people of the nineties had developed a type of radio deafness which enabled them not to hear a human voice coming from a loudspeaker, although they could hear and enjoy the then-infrequent intervals of music between announcements. In an age when advertising competition was so keen that there was scarcely a bare wall or an unbillboarded lot within miles of a population center, discriminating people could retain normal outlooks on life only by carefully-cultivated partial blindness and partial deafness which enabled them to ignore the bulk of that concerted assault upon their senses. For that reason a good part of the newscast which followed the dissarhythm program went, as it were, into one
Fredric Brown (The Fredric Brown MEGAPACK ®: 33 Classic Science Fiction Stories)
Music, unlike Albertine’s company, helped me to go deeper into myself, to find new things there: the variety which I had vainly sought in life and in travel, yet the longing for which was stirred in me by that surge of sound whose sunlit wavelets came to break at my feet. It was a double diversity. Just as the spectrum makes the composition of light visible to us, the harmonies of a Wagner, the color of an Elstir let us know the qualitative essence of another’s sensations in a way that love for another being can never do. Then there is the variety within the work itself, achieved by the only means there is of being genuinely diverse: bringing together different individualities. Where a lesser musician would claim he is depicting a squire or a knight, while having them sing the same music, Wagner, on the other hand, places under each name a different reality, and each time his squire appears, a particular figure, at once complex and simplistic, bursts, with a joyous, feudal clashing of lines, into the immensity of sound and leaves its mark there. Hence the fullness of a music which, in fact, is filled with countless different musics each of which is a being in its own right.
Marcel Proust (The Prisoner: In Search of Lost Time, Volume 5 (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition))
Some arts move in time, like music; others are presented in space, like painting. In both cases the organizing principle is recurrence, which is called rhythm when it is temporal and pattern when it is spatial. Thus we speak of the rhythm of music and the pattern of painting; but later, to show off our sophistication, we may begin to speak of the rhythm of painting and the pattern of music. In other words, all arts may be conceived both temporally and spatially. The score of a musical composition may be studied all at once; a picture may be seen as the track of an intricate dance of the eye. Literature seems to be intermediate between music and painting: its words form rhythms which approach a musical sequence of sounds at one of its boundaries and form patterns which approach the hieroglyphic or pictorial image atthe other. The attempts to get as near to these boundaries as possible form the main body of what is called experimental writing. We may call the rhythm of literature the narrative, and the pattern, the simultaneous mental grasp of the verbal structure, the meaning or significance. We hear or listen to a narrative, but when we grasp a writer’s total pattern we “see” what he means.
Northrop Frye (The Archetypes of Literature)
I missed my workout this morning, so I vault up the stairs to my flat. Breakfast has taken longer than intended, and I'm expecting Oliver at any minute. Part of me also hopes that Alessia will still be there. As I approach my front door, I hear music coming from the flat. Music? What's going on? I slide my key into the lock and cautiously open the door. It's Bach, one of his preludes in G Major. Perhaps Alessia is playing music through my computer. But how can she? She doesn't know the password. Does she? Maybe she's playing her phone through the sound system, though from the look of her tatty anorak she doesn't strike me as someone who has a smartphone. I've never seen her with one. The music rings through my flat, lighting up its darkest corners. Who knew that my daily likes classical? This is a tiny piece of the Alessia Demachi puzzle. Quickly I close the door, but as I stand in the hallway, it becomes apparent that the music is not coming from the sound system. It's from my piano. Bach. Fluid and light, played with a deftness and understanding I've only heard from concert-standard performers. Alessia? I've never managed to make my piano sing like this. Taking off my shoes, I creep down the hallway and peer around the door into the drawing room. She is seated at the piano in her housecoat and scarf, swaying a little, completely lost in the music, her eyes closed in concentration as her hands move with graceful dexterity across the keys. The music flows through her, echoing off the walls and ceiling in a flawless performance worthy of any concert pianist. I watch her in awe as she plays, her head bowed. She is brilliant. In every way. And I'm completely spellbound. She finishes the prelude, and I step back into the hall, flattening myself against the wall in case she looks up, not daring to breath. However, without missing a beat she goes straight into the fugue. I lean against the wall and close my eyes, marveling at her artistry and the feeling that she puts into each phrase. I'm carried away by the music, and as I listen, I realize that she wasn't reading the music. She's playing from memory. Good God. She's a fucking virtuoso. And I remember her intense focus when she examined my score while she was dusting the piano. Clearly she was reading the music. Shit. She plays at this standard and she was reading my composition? The fugue ends, and seamlessly she launches into another piece. Again Bach, Prelude in C-sharp Major, I think.
E.L. James
Monoïmos … thinks that there is some such Man as Oceanus, of whom the poet speaks somewhat as follows: Oceanus, the origin of gods and of men.134 Putting this into other words, he says that the Man is All, the source of the universe, unbegotten, incorruptible, everlasting; and that there is a Son of the aforesaid Man, who is begotten and capable of suffering, and whose birth is outside time, neither willed nor predetermined … This Man is a single Monad, uncompounded [and] indivisible, [yet] compounded [and] divisible; loving and at peace with all things [yet] warring with all things and at war with itself in all things; unlike and like [itself], as it were a musical harmony containing all things … showing forth all things and giving birth to all things. It is its own mother, its own father, the two immortal names. The emblem of the perfect Man, says Monoïmos, is the jot or tittle.135 This one tittle is the uncompounded, simple, unmixed Monad, having its composition from nothing whatsoever, yet composed of many forms, of many parts. That single, indivisible jot is the many-faced, thousand-eyed and thousand-named, the jot of the iota. This is the emblem of that perfect and indivisible Man. … The Son of the Man is the one iota, the one jot flowing from on high, full and filling all things, containing in himself everything that is in the Man, the Father of the Son of Man.136
C.G. Jung (Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (Collected Works, Vol 9ii))
My first objection to this stance is that being nonjudgmental is internally contradictory and an impossibility. Return to the extreme cases: If you refuse to accept that there are any objective differences, expressible as continua from negative to positive, between the nude painted on black velvet and Titian’s Venus of Urbino, between a Harlequin romance and Pride and Prejudice, between How Much Is That Doggy in the Window and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, you are not standing above the fray, refusing to be judgmental. It is a judgment on the grandest of all scales to say that How Much Is That Doggy in the Window is, in terms of its quality as a musical composition, indiscriminable from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. And if you really believe it, you have also made a sweeping judgment about the capacity of the human mind to assess information. The impossibility of being nonjudgmental does not go away as the differences in quality become smaller. The nature of the judgments merely changes. When we are comparing Venus of Urbino with a Rembrandt self-portrait, we immediately understand that no objective dimension enables us to say that one work is better than the other. But there remain dimensions on which the two paintings differ, and those dimensions lend themselves to comparisons in which one work may be found superior to the other. One may choose to examine those differences or not, but one does not have the option of saying that no differences exist.
Charles Murray (Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950)
The concentrated structure of musical form, based on dramatic climaxes, gradually breaks up in romanticism and gives way again to the cumulative composition of the older music. Sonata form falls to pieces and is replaced more and more often by other, less severe and less schematically moulded forms—by small-scale lyrical and descriptive genres, such as the Fantasy and the Rhapsody, the Arabesque and the Étude, the Intermezzo and the Impromptu, the Improvisation and the Variation. Even extensive works are often made up of such miniature forms, which no longer constitute, from the structural point of view, the acts of a drama, but the scenes of a revue. A classical sonata or symphony was the world in parvo: a microcosm. A succession of musical pictures, such as Schumann’s Carnaval or Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage, is like a painter’s sketch-book; it may contain magnificent lyrical-impressionistic details, but it abandons the attempt to create a total impression and an organic unity from the very beginning. [...] This change of form is accompanied by the literary inclinations of the composers and their bias towards programme music. The intermingling of forms also makes itself felt in music and is expressed most conspicuously in the fact that the romantic composers are often very gifted and important writers. In the painting and poetry of the period the disintegration of form does not proceed anything like so quickly, nor is it so far-reaching as in music. The explanation of the difference is partly that the cyclical ‘medieval’ structure had long since been overcome in the other arts, whereas it remained predominant in music until the middle of the eighteenth century, and only began to yield to formal unity after the death of Bach. In music it was therefore much easier to revert to it than, for example, in painting where it was completely out of date. The romantics’ historical interest in old music and the revival of Bach’s prestige had, however, only a subordinate part in the dissolution of strict sonata form, the real reason is to be sought in a change of taste which was in essentials sociologically conditioned.
Arnold Hauser (The Social History of Art Volume 3: Rococo, Classicism and Romanticism)
When I drive I like to listen to Schubert's piano sonatas with the volume turned up. Do you know why?' 'I have no idea.' 'Because playing Schubert's piano sonatas well is one of the hardest things in the world. Especially this, the Sonata in D Major. It's a tough piece to master. Some pianists can play one or maybe two of the movements perfectly, but if you listen to all four movements as a unified whole, no one has ever nailed it. A lot of famous pianists have tried to rise to the challenge, but it's like there's always something missing. There's never one where you can say, Yes! He's got it! Do you know why?' 'No,' I reply. 'Because the sonata itself is imperfect. Robert Schumann understood Schubert's sonatas well, and he labeled this one "Heavenly Tedious."' "If the composition's imperfect, why would so many pianists try to master it?' 'Good question,' Oshima says, and pauses as music fills in the silence. 'I have no great explanation for it, but one thing I can say. Works that have a certain imperfection to them have an appeal for that very reason―or at least they appeal to certain types of people. Just like you're attracted to Soseki's The Miner. There's something in it that draws you in, more than more fully realized novels like Kokoro or Sanshiro. You discover something about that work that tugs at your heart―or maybe we should say the work discovers you. Schubert's Sonata in D Major is sort of the same thing.' 'To get back to the question,' I say, 'why do you listen to Schubert's sonatas? Especially when you're driving?' 'If you play Schubert's sonatas, especially this one straight through, it's not art. Like Schumann pointed out, it's too long and too pastoral, and technically too simplistic. Play it through the way it is and it's flat and tasteless, some dusty antique. Which is why every pianist who attempts it adds something of his own, something extra. Like this―hear how he articulates it there? Adding rubato. Adjusting the pace, modulation, whatever. Otherwise they can't hold it all together. They have to be careful, though, or else all those extra devices destroy the dignity of the piece. Then it's not Schubert's music anymore. Every single pianist who's played this sonata struggles with the same paradox.' He listens to the music, humming the melody, then continues. 'That's why I like to listen to Schubert while I'm driving. Like I said, it's because all the performances are imperfect. A dense, artistic kind of imperfection stimulates your consciousness, keeps you alert. If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I'm driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of―that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging.
Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)