A Conversation for Beauty

Beauty in Music

Post 1

Steve K.

I think music is even tougher than the visual for most of us, since we don't really understand what it's ... about? Since the days of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, we have been presented with mushy Romantic music and bewildering 20th century music. Jascha Heifetz, 20th century violinist: "I occasionally play works by contemporary composers for two reasons. First, to discourage them from writing any more and secondly to remind myself how much I appreciate Beethoven."

Beauty in Music

Post 2


Yes, music is certainly a mystery of its own. I can't explain why, but I'm equally enamoured of Mozart et al., Underworld, Van Morrison, Timos Maas, and Liz Phair. Vastly disparate, maybe, but with such human beauty in them...

Beauty in Music

Post 3

Sea Change

Robert Jourdain wrote an interesting book that attempts to survey some biophysical reasons certain music leads to ecstasies of beauty.

Beauty in Music

Post 4

Steve K.

Jourdain's book does sound interesting. The Booklist review at Amazon:

"When we listen to music, it appeals on many levels. Jourdain guides [readers] through the auditory pathways of the brain on a quest to understand how music affects the emotions. The journey winds from the basic physics of sound and the neurophysiology of the brain, through tone, melody, harmony, rhythm, composition, performance, listening, and understanding, and finally to the pleasure music gives. Always linking the physical sounds to their interpretations in the various areas of the brain, Jourdain also speculates on why people enjoy some types of music and not others (partly this is a matter of acculturation) and comments on the content of music that challenges logic and appeals to emotions. Moreover, he relates all the elements of music by reference to a single, continuing (very familiar) example--the theme from The Pink Panther ..."

The "Pink Panther Theme" as an example intrigues me. I recall the movie folks asked the composer (Henry Mancini, I think) to write a variation for a sequel. He refused, saying the piece was perfect and he wasn't changing a note. (So, Leonardo, could you make her look a little happier?)

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