Someone once suggested that music sounds the way emotions feel, that music reveals the hidden patterns of our inner lives in the same way that mathematics reveals the outer, physical world.
|A movement, in music, is but one section of a much larger, and longer, work.|
It is oddly comforting to our late twentieth century sensibilities that even music, and its effects, may have a scientific explanation. Both music and mathematics build what have been called ever grander and more coherent unities out of abstract details, and aim at formal beauty. But there is a danger in deconstructing a thing of beauty: the sum, after all, is greater than its parts. We are tempted to take the clock apart, to see how it ticks (or glows), but can we then reassemble the pieces back into the clock they once were?
In the sixth century B.C., Pythagoras asserted that music was “number made audible,” while T.S. Eliot, much more our contemporary, wrote, “The detail of the pattern is movement,” and, “Desire itself is movement.” A movement, in the language of music, however, is but one section of a much larger work, sections that are in fact much longer than entire compositions in the twentieth century.
Pattern is not a musical term. Its primary definition is “a person or thing considered worthy of imitation.” But pattern has more than ten other definitions as well, one of which is “an arrangement of form; [a] disposition of parts or elements.” If these are the hidden patterns that music brings to light, the implication of “arrangement” is that there is an “arranger,” someone, or something, who “hid” these patterns in the first place.
Music implies a God. Or, at the very least, music implies a communion which transcends our physical bounds. Unlike mathematics, music is a very frightening thing to deconstruct.
Read Lisa Lenard-Cook's INside Story on fiction-writing.
Dissonance (University of New Mexico Press) © 2003 Lisa Lenard-Cook. Used by permission of the author.