Tuesday, September 22, 2015

W.A. Mozart and the Universe

W.A. Mozart Isis und Osiris. Kurt Moll

[This is another text in the same vein as the previous Ignorant faith and arrogant fool examining our subjective attitude towards reality, our different world views.]

Science of Music examines what music is and what it does to humans using scientific tools. It is one way to look at music and a very interesting one, too (see, for example, the weekly series of articles in Nature).

Musicology is defined in Wikipedia in this way:
Musicology (from Greek μουσική (mousikē), meaning "music", and -λογία (-logia), meaning "study of-") is the scholarly analysis of, and research on, music, a part of humanities. A person who studies music is a musicologist. For broad treatments, see the entry on "musicology" in Grove's dictionary, the entry on "Musikwissenschaft" in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, and the classic approach of Adler (1885)
Both approaches to music represent systematic study and the use of sophisticated analytical tools that reveal deep structures in sound sequences we call music as well as significant cognitive data about the process of hearing and enjoying - or not enjoying - music. But it would be a serious mistake to claim that any such approach is the ultimate truth about music, a sine non qua, comparing to which people talk about everyday experiences of singing, playing and listening to music is non-scientific rubbish.

For example, serious study of Mozart's compositions analyses the musical keys in which the harmonies and melodies are expressed. Intimate knowledge and non-stop practice of scales in these various keys are absolute requirements for professional level performances. Accordingly, there are mappings of Mozart's work that use musicologists' language and symbols to write down the key sequences in great detail. Other symbols are used to express analyses of rhythm, orchestration and other aspects of his work.

When looking at such studies of Mozart's composition those in the know learn much about the technical presentations and can have learned discussions of them with their colleagues. For a layman, the mappings are rather cryptic and do not make much sense because of the complicity. Blues structure is understood by almost everyone regardless of the key and numerous variations, the basic chords repeat themselves  I IV V I. No such luck with Mozart even with his "simple" C-major piano sonata!

But ...
Science of Music and Musicology describe music. The do not produce true music which humans, singing birds and the entire Creation can do to those who have ears.

Even best attempts to machine create music based on the knowledge and theories quickly fail the impeccable human musical ear test, Much produced popular music without true inspiration and innovation is boring as proven every year, for example, in the Eurovision Song Contest.

In addition to creative composition of music as art there is the creative performing, singing or playing of music. Professional musicians have often started very young and keep practicing all their life and yet cannot always produce inspiring performances. Even the best trained symphony orchestras fail sometimes to reach that very essence of music that the audience expects, feels and rewards with applauds and accolades. The subjective human element is very much present but this does not diminish the significance of the mathematical laws of music underlying everything, as already Pythagoras noted.

Psalm 19: Silent speech of the Universe
Scientific systematic study of Mozart is legitimate and one way at looking at his unparalleled musical genius. But an ignorant listening to La Notte di Figaro with only elementary understanding of theory has a different approach towards the sound world which is not only as legitimate but actually the original purpose of Amadeus. Not to shine displaying laws of music and harmony but to create what his inner ear hears.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Psalm 19:1-6 NIV

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