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Saturday morning quotes 4.25: Musical musings

November 1, 2014

Today we offer a few quotations from diverse sources that serve to connect a certain thread of logic.  The astute reader will tie the knot that binds the logic.

“For as the distraction of the mind, amongst other outward causes and perturbations, alters the temperature of the body, so the distraction and distemper of the body will cause a distemperature of the soul, and ‘tis hard to decide which of these two do more harm to the other…Now the chiefest causes proceed from the heart, humours, spirits: as they are purer, or impurer, so is the mind, and equally suffers, as a lute out of tune; if one string or one organ be distempered.“

– Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621.

“To some people, perhaps to the majority, the use of music as a means toward understanding the world seems a chimera, if not a patent absurdity. Today most people share the general assumptions about the nature of music and the universe that have been current since the time of Newton. They regard music as essentially an emotional language and the universe as a mathematical machine: two things between which there is no common denominator save the human being who can experience them both.” p. 374

“…Speculative music is a personal affair: everyone finds in it something personal, whether that be a grand overview of the cosmos, a revisioning of history, a fresh insight into the geometry of nature, or a meditative preparation for life after death. And what one gets out of it depends on what one brings to it. Therefore what awaits future researchers is not a single discipline but a multiplicity of paths, differing from each other as markedly as human beings do.”  p. 388

– Joscelyn Godwin, “The Revival of Speculative Music,” The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Jul., 1982).

“We often find it perplexing, if not paradoxical, that religion relies so extensively and repeatedly on mediated experience…Sacred experience comes to depend on mediation…”

“Music enters sacred experience as one of the most powerful media for connecting the space between the intimate and the many…Music magnifies meaning as it sounds the sacred.  Music translates sacred text as it generates genres of communal voice and ritual.”

– Philip V. Bohlman, Reviews, Digital and Multimedia Scholarship, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Volume 87, Number 1, Spring 2014, p. 288.

“In addition to validating previous studies finding a positive association between musical instruction and IQ, the researchers also found musical study to be positively related to measures of executive functioning, even when accounting for important family background characteristics such as parental education and income level. In particular, the researchers identify two aspects of executive functioning, attention and inhibition, as the most influential aspects mediating IQ.”

– Degé, F., Kubicek, C., & Schwarzer, G. “Music lessons and intelligence: A relation mediated by executive functions.” Music Perception, 29(2), (2011). pp. 195-201.


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