Vincent Lombardo

If ideas are words and sounds are music
A Prelude to Structures in Music and Language

Music rationalises sound... the musical side of language is its primary and elementary side.

George Santayana, Reason in Art


Music, truly, is the mediator between intellectual and sensuous life.

Ludwig van Beethoven

If ideas are words and sounds are music It is generally thought that ideas somehow form themselves into words which express needs or aspirations. As to the structure of music, we usually believe that sounds are put together into rhythmically-shaped phrases to give vent to emotions. Thus, language is successful because it codifies what is socially inter-active in man, while music serves to express interior impressions which govern feelings. From this starting point, the flood-gates of intellectual inquiry have opened themselves up to every attempt to unify or, at least, to amalgamate the structures of language and music. The multitudinous results of often-inspired research have proven that melodic invention has much more in common with the building of grammatical structure than grammar has with the composition of a musical piece. We have come to understand that music is a "... language of emotional expression" (Cooke, 1959), being nothing more than a parallel structure to those of the sciences of language and communication. All hopes for mapping out roads leading to these inner sentiments, whether they be linguistic, anthropological, philosophical, sociological, psychological or mystical, seem to lean upon the purely artistic, that is to say, the creative. A canyon still separates the two subjects. The argument remains less convincing in its scientific investigations, where it seems to indicate impossibilities in demonstrating related structures between the spoken or written word and musical sound, but is engaging when artists apply their work code to linguistic modes of expression. This was notably evident during the 1973 Norton Lectures on Poetry given by the late composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein at Harvard under the title The Unanswered Question, a reference to the mystically delicate homonymous tone poem of the American composer, Charles Ives. The question itself of the piece, and of Bernstein's talks, was "Whither music?" Though the lectures were met with suspicion by many scholars in the field of Linguistics, the essence of Bernstein's claim that there is indeed a "universal inborn musical grammar" remains untainted. Only a truly complete artist could speak of this as "... a human endowment", proclaiming "... the unique power of the human spirit" (Bernstein, 1976: 8). In making many analogies, Bernstein willingly admits to there being a 'musical' structure, but hardly feels prepared to, let's say, suggest it as substituting the linguistic aspects of thought and speech patterns. It is true that in understanding the logical principles we abstract from language, we also discover how we communicate in a larger sense, as through social actions, and, yes, through music and art. And, too, in actually living the experience that we have come to understand life to be, we are ready to confront the intensified scientific principles of such arts as music, itself often referred to as 'heightened' speech. We associate such musical elements as frequencies, durations, and intervals with mathematics, and thereafter combine these with the aesthetics of such subjects as Linguistic Philosophy. George Steiner (1967: 132) tells us that "... music and mathematics are 'languages' other than language. Purer, perhaps, less sullied with past implications; abler, possibly, to deal with the new age of automation and electronic control. But not language. And thus far, in history, it is language that has been the vessel of human grace and the prime carrier of civilisation". This, too, brings us back to the philosophical visions of the mathematical Ludwig Wittgenstein, who used his own particular semantic codes in his Philosophical Grammar: (1974: 41) to explain the meaning of sound itself. He tells us: "Understanding a sentence is more akin to understanding a piece of music than one might think", and "... I can only translate the musical picture into a picture in another medium, and let the one picture throw light on the other". The technical expertise needed for any scientist approaching the art of music requires that he discover a formula to explain this supposed metaphorical phenomenon. Yet, there is something else that takes place when the researcher himself confronts the mysterious effects of music and what it symbolises within his inner self. An acoustic engineer studying timbre vibration and intonation in order to improve loud-speaker reproduction may not have to 'listen' to music, but to react to sound as noise only, and he may do well to limit himself to this. Or so he thinks, until the frequency of any given pitch suggests its own properties, or until three or four frequencies, varied in length, create a unique acoustic sound out of an infinite variety of possibilities. In varying these, the engineer begins a musical composition of sorts. As this scientific process develops, the mental images locked within the mind's psychological states begin depicting outer manifestations of an 'inner landscape'. Here, music is related more to pictorial art than to language, and this is quite a fascinating area, as long as the tones and orchestral textures remain somewhat mysterious in suggesting the same feelings as a fairly abstract painting. There is the three-piece suite for piano of Eric Satie, Gnossiennes (1890) coming to mind, suggesting Gnosticism, but also incorporating visions of a crane dancing beside the labyrinth on the Greek island of Naxos. The entire composition was written without the key signatures or bar lines that customarily separate measures, and thus lacking a grammatical structure. Then again, we have The Unanswered Question , in which Ives represents "The Silence of the Druids - who Know, See, and Hear Nothing". This should not be limited to the 'surreal' or 'symbolic' only, as even those dark colours from a Rembrandt painting might take on visually tonal characteristics. Albert Einstein (1930: 158) told us that "... the most beautiful life experience we can have is the mysterious. This is the deep sentiment we find at the base of all art and pure science. If one no longer experiences astonishment or surprise, he is as if dead, as a blown-out candle". Then again, the same analytical mind in filling in a questionnaire (Einstein, 1939: 185) reveals his musical likes and dislikes, and we find J. S. Bach, W. A. Mozart, and Franz Schubert among his favourites, for their capacity in "... expressing their emotions". Beethoven is not there as he found him too dramatic and personal (sic), while Richard Wagner's musical personality was "... indescribably offensive" and Richard Strauss, though "... talented, lacked a true inner being, seeking outward effects". Again, we return to the idea of evaluating music according to its capacity of expressing emotion. Almost always, those who attempt to apprehend what happens to them as they listen to music enter into an dream land of psychological images, and obtain success when using words as symbols to explain the unexplainable, as in poetry. In "The Unknown Self Sings", a chapter found within his Freudian text The Haunting Melody (1953), Theodor Reik told us of involuntarily recalling the choral melody from Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony, sub-titled The Resurrection. At first perplexed, the psychoanalyst went on to piece together the seemingly disjointed associations he had unconsciously made before breaking out into the melody, "Auferstehn - Rise again, you, that shalt rise up". There is, then, a parallel road which allows us to relate concrete personal experiences to recurrent musical themes. Yet, we wonder why some non-programmatic pieces of music express these very same emotions in a purely abstract way only. This phenomenon does not occur with every musical piece to be sure, and therefore we could only hope to share the same vision of a given composer while he expresses his own deep-seated feelings. Thinking in this way, it would be difficult to find in all of music what we have discovered in the eighteen Piano Sonatas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or the thirty-two of Ludwig van Beethoven. This might be because we here tend to link what we experience in an intimate way to what is able to move us, to what is 'beautiful'. There is no denying, however, that this word will always be linked to Eduard Hanslick's celebrated treatise, On the Musically Beautiful (1854), and will always relate listening to music as an experience in confronting one's emotions. He separates music from other arts such as dance, painting, sculpture, and poetry writing as it alone creates 'sound', which has an effect on our subjective feelings. Yet, Hanslick cannot help relating music to language as these 'feelings' need 'words' to describe them. When he speaks of the musical ideas of 'hope' or 'love', he must give credit to the linguistic indications also, and the sentiments that arise from listening to a piece of music dealing with these two concepts can only bring to mind linguistically concrete constructions. For example, 'hope' in music must embrace the vision of a happier future than the present, or 'love' itself needs the 'loved one', whose happiness we desire above all. The word 'sacrifice' comes to mind, perhaps, and one may think of a scene from a Charles Chaplin film; the ending of The Circus, for example, where a sad, yet valiant clown arranges for the marriage of a circus performer he is still in love with. Chaplin's music, sentimentally moving at all times, is linked to a linguistic setting, be it the text or the physical circumstances in which the music dwells. A psychological drive seems to seek out definite form to mould itself into, a process common to the Plastic Arts. Hector Berlioz, let us not forget, came before the great revolutionary Wagner in his use of a leitmotif, which he termed idèe fixe, a linguistically inclined 'motif of semantic recall'. This derives directly from what Mozart and Beethoven are indeed saying or what they seem to be saying. "Saying?" Well, we must be rather sure of ourselves in order to convince others that we have decoded not only their underlying sentiments, but also the 'inner dialogues' that simultaneously take place each and every time we listen to these sonatas. How can this be possible? We know that attempting to put words to a well-known melody from a piece of classical music is dangerous activity, given the fact that it was originally written to be played by using musical tones only. We have learned that it is always a mistake to retouch the original work of any artist, let alone meddling with such titans as a Mozart or a Beethoven. But it is not this, especially when we recall that our universal geniuses are close to us mainly because their all-too-human hearts beat as do ours, their eternal messages remaining direct, no-nonsense statements about what is means to live in a society. This may sound trite, but it relates to universal 'simplicity', and it is this in itself which attracts us, this itself seeming a sure sign of both aesthetic taste and artistic maturity. Thus, any attempt to tamper with an almost spiritual communication left to us by a 'great' one remains an offence to what should remain sincere, dignified. The very idea of using such original products of the mind for an immediate purpose can only remain purposeless. Nothing is worse than associating a commercial word or image with a 'sacred' work of art, however valid. We have recently seen a plastic bottle of mineral water floating within the currents of a mountain spring, to the accompaniment of the 'Holy Grail' motif from Wagner's Parsifal. Let us not think that even innocently pure projects, such as making English versions of Italian or German opera, are without their difficulties. The same ideas just do not 'translate' from one language to another, and this is complicated by the musical requirements of rhythm and accents. But this is light stuff, a seedy commercial venture at the worst when compared to that perennial, all-encompassing conflict between words and music, between librettist and composer, wherein words must fit into spatial confines and a sonorous musical form. Monteverdi, Gluck, Wagner, and Strauss did all they could to reform opera, turning to the ideals of Greek classical drama in order to render their musical compositions 'linguistically' fit for the stage. The resultant pieces were often of incongruous, 'surreal' dimensions, at times using elements of the fable to justify the sophisticatedly philosophical structures of such terms as gesamtkunstwerk, the 'total art work'. Indeed, Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen has been referred to as a gigantic fairy tale on too many occasions to slip our notice. We can cite the Strauss-Hofmannsthal Ariadne auf Naxos as the quintessence of renegade invention in search of credibility. This process also takes place when a film director shoots a scene in a field or forest, perhaps, where two human beings in conflict grab out to each other while the music 'describes' their non-communicable anguish in slow-motion. This mechanism occurs in Ken Russell's film, The Music Lovers, treating on episodes in the life of Tchaikovsky, one of music's most psychologically tormented individuals. But our purely musical interest lies elsewhere as we attempt to embrace the spirit of a composer through his compositions, feeling certain about the essence of his emotions related to a specific piece of music. This, too, is why a melody can be unconsciously related to life situations, as we mentioned above. Universal images, quite easily associated with those from Jung's world of the 'Collective Unconscious', sprout up as springtime flowers in a field. It is these images which relate to the field of linguistics, through their possible connections to words. Oddly, there has been rather little said about the differences between the possible structures of language and music. In returning to our affirmation that the musician has a better understanding of language than a linguistic expert has of music, we touch upon the art of communicating, of expressing ideas, and of finding codes to make this possible. Steiner (1967: 62) speaks of "... the recurrent acknowledgement by poets, by masters of language, that music 'is' the deeper, more numinous code, and that language, when truly apprehended, aspires to the condition of music is brought, by the genius of the poet, to the threshold of that condition". This could very well mean that the composer imitates this process, yet not at all in reverse; that is to say, he is not approaching words through his music, but rather using words also to approach his music. Therefore, an artist creating beauty through melody also uses linguistic semantic codes, whether personal or applied. It does seem that in these Mozart and Beethoven Sonatas the composers are in the process of transferring musical ideas to images, and, in turn, these images to a broad literary contextuality, a grammar of an unspoken, still uncharted language. This is in no way to be limited to personal experiences only, or we would be dealing with Program Music, that which tells or re-tells a story. Here, one is immediately referred to the sumptuosly dramatic tone poem Don Quixote; Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character by Richard Strauss, what with its effects of windmills, bleating sheep, and even a flying horse. Instead, we find in these Sonatas a wide range of what one could call 'moods', those deep reflections of what we might describe as 'feelings without words', and Felix Mendelssohn's Songs without Words for piano solo give good examples to what we are discussing. The composer, when questioned about the motivations behind these pieces, replied that "... even if I had a particular word or words in mind, I would not tell anyone because the same word means different things to different people. Only the songs say the same thing, arouse the same feeling in everyone - a feeling that cannot be expressed in words". But with Mozart and Beethoven, it is not quite the same, perhaps only because Romanticism had not yet completely arrived. Their needs to express themselves were justifiably described as being unselfish as they believed that their sufferings were the very same sufferings of all mankind, and therefore their messages were to be considered 'universal' proclamations. In their operas, Le nozze di Figaro and Fidelio respectively, we are using a dramatic text to underline the ideas of social dignity and human love, and the personality of the composer comes to light. The Piano Sonatas demonstrate just how deep their feelings for their fellow men were, especially in the Adagio sections, where the composer's ability to move us has already been experienced. One cannot fully explain this without furnishing the reader with a score of the music, or having a pianoforte before him, as did Bernstein in his Harvard lectures. Thus, our almost natural attempt to interpret in our or other terms what we are listening to, giving form to our ideas, decode then even, can be nothing more than an experiment in form. It is a like telling a story with no story line, as if discussing passages of a book no one has seen for himself, or has before him to read or be read to. When dealing with non-verbal music, then, we are always speaking of something else, an experience perhaps deeper than goes beyond the simple act of listening to a CD at home. We surely note the timing and phrasing, as measured out by the composer's original indications, but we sense the grace and variety with which an individual musician is putting the piece together. Let's take the Adagio from the Opus 2, No. 3 Piano Sonata in C major of Beethoven. The three Opus 2 pieces were written in a period from 1793 to 1795, when Beethoven was 24 years old. It is immediately apparent how these sonatas can rival the mature ones for sheer "... variety of musical character... diversity of form... emotional content... and intensity of expression", as Max Harrison (1991) writes in his CD program notes for the Claudio Arrau integral set on Philips. Note how the musicologist uses words we've already seen: emotional and expression (sic). We recall that the Opus 111, the last piece in the category, was written in 1822 by a 53 year-old testimony to human sentiment, just four years before his death. And where does Beethoven's mind run throughout these suspended ten minutes of invented sound and images?
# All too softly, five notes speak in the form of a simple theme, and a bass harmonic note strikes on the first and last of these. Here, we sense the importance of how when underlining a note, as one would stress a word, we are not making it more pronounced, but, quite the opposite, justifying it by resolving it harmonically.
# From this, our ear is filled with repetitions, with one or two notes being added with seeming naturalness, and with underlying runs of notes in that same scale, as if strumming a chord on a guitar. Regarding tonality in sound, it simply makes sense.
# The series is repeated eight times, or 'four times four' as bar divisions would have it, and the ending notes rise or fall.
# Before a last almost ending run FADING into nothing, the kind that announces a return to the top, da capo, and a paraphrase of the main theme, we are given two SURPRISING lower chords which have an immediate ECHO answer in higher chorded notes.
# But, wait, the last high note is suspended until a run of scaled notes bring us into a DISTANT world, not diverse from the opening bars of Beethoven's enigmatic, almost occult Moonlight Sonata, Opus 27, No. 2. Underneath all this, we have consistent, SOLEMN single pedal bass notes, creating a sinister atmosphere.
# The five 'echo' notes on the higher register also mock the slow beginning a few times, yet the last two are accented, almost pleading, CHILD-LIKE.
# A swaying chord structure moves onwards, and, underneath this, there is tendency to create harmony in 'echo' to those cries.
# A resolution in a chorded scale with two sustaining low notes offer us peace, or so we think, and we harmonise downwards with two lengthy, 'legato' notes.
# And then, the great communicator Beethoven speaks out, singing to himself. Just two minutes after the beginning of the movement, he gives us two ascending notes, so close that it seems as if one were just born from the other, and slipping away into the freedom of space that only the musical resolution of sound can afford. They are as two close FRIENDS, sustaining the harmonic chord scales and the cries. In answer, while these harmonic utterings flow onward, there are bass pedal notes, almost gong-like pealings. There are some hand-crossings over each other, a Neapolitan invention from the early 1700's.
# They repeat themselves for three bars of 4 x 2 for each bar of the 'friendly statement'. The last repeat of the first bar (measure) is a high, piping 'child' note.
# Now, Beethoven stirs, perhaps surprising himself, and bangs down what seems like a fist on the lowest notes, almost off the left part of the piano it seems to us while listening to a disc. One note at a time, a disturbingly distracted answer to those two 'friendly' notes. Four notes, then the fifth soft, immediately followed by the child's cry. Then again, the fist, the anger, the shock! The... what? Beethoven - expressing some strong emotion. But it might only be a 'musical' answer. No one could be right in stating that it has any meaning, but it was needed to fill the piece, already moving, with uniquely Romantic emotions. We, too, recall some of Mozart's Piano Sonatas doing the very same thing, though not as violent as this for sure. The Adagio in B minor, KV 540, is an excellent example of disjointed outbursts.
One runs risks in interpreting the inner voice of another man, let alone a elevated one who has lived the great life experience of seeing his creative projects take flight. "Thou art feathered, thou art flown, and hast a project of thine own", declares Edna St. Vincent Millay in her poem, The Fledgling. The individuality of a man's vision pronounces itself in all he creates, an indication of his having always known just where he is going, leaning on inspiration and instinct as one would a sign-post. Yet, hasn't Semiotics taught us of the validity of the sign? Roland Barthes is accredited with saying that "Reading a book is an encounter," and we presume he means to tell us that the end product of an original mind, here the text, endures within and without itself. Our interpretations seem meaningless, given that the book has a life, and thus a meaning of its own. The same goes for music, we might sustain. In looking through the personal impressions put down above, we can ask ourselves why certain words came about, and what they mean. Instead of possibly false and predictable expressions such as 'sad', 'melancholy', 'lonely', or 'distant' and 'dreamy', we find 'fading', 'surprises', 'echo', 'solemn', 'child-like', and 'friend'. The music itself suggested a world of change ('fading', 'surprises'), removal from the every-day ('echo', 'distant', 'solemn'), and untainted optimism ('child-like', 'friend'). This is more like Beethoven, that is, if we are to compare this to his life beliefs, his writings, and daily encounters with other men, and his desire to be part of raising the level of all men. Though Montaigne's phrase, "The most universal quality of man is his diversity" carries much wisdom within it, we must subscribe to an opposite truth when speaking of the universals that bind all of us together when sharing emotion. This was personally experienced on numerous occasions when, during a university Creative Writing Seminar, an experiment in interpreting music was conducted. Music was played to a group of 'creative' students, writers in their own way, if you will. The pieces chosen were the glockenspiel music from Die Zauberflöte (the 'carillon' used for taming the evil Monostatos and his wild beasts) and the Adagio from one of Beethoven's Late String Quartets, the Opus 127 in E-minor. None of the students, almost all musically uneducated sad to say, had ever heard a Beethoven Quartet, and though some knew of Mozart's last fairy-tale opera, not one was able to place the whimsically metallic tune within the exact dramatic context of the stage action. An examination of their written reactions to these pieces, whether beginnings of stories, poems, or even drawings, proved that there was a universal sameness to what they emotionally felt. Every single one of their words avoided the obvious, and, even more so, caught the subtle yet urgent essences of the original pieces. This also worked with 12 year-old school children. Imagine - many saw a '... long, dark corridor' in the Beethoven and 'happiness' and 'dancing' in the Mozart. Add the words used above for the Beethoven Piano Sonata, 'fading', 'surprises', 'echo', 'distant', 'solemn', 'child-like', 'friend', then connect them to '... a long, dark corridor,' and we have a scenic representation from his 'prison' opera, Fidelio. Think of this piece's celebrated Quartet, and the idea of "... looking into another's heart", as they lament, singing. We have words that not only speak of 'love' and 'happiness', but also, demonstrating the way in which Mozart and Beethoven desired to give dignity to delicate human fondness, 'danger', 'weak' and (a word of words, this) 'unutterable anguish'. Are not these the 'innate' grammar structures of spoken language, transferred into the codes of another communicating medium in order to be able to describe our feelings? If indeed ideas are words and sounds are music, then we can begin to think that ideas may very well derive from sounds, as words might from music.
Every idea is a sound The sight of a man standing alone on a street corner in the rain, 'yelling' incomprehensible words with all his force is indeed a grim image. The sight of another man standing alone on a street corner after the rain, taking in a breath, then 'exhaling' four musical tones, seeming half-sighs, is indeed an enigmatic, yet consoling experience. In the one, we sense the inner turmoil; in the other, we are involved in a bit of melody, of what seems an unfinished expression of sentiment. We have arrived to the great fork in the road of what was to divide the destinies of such language arts as poetry and music. The beginning of the journey, though, took place on a much less sophisticated plane, precisely where chaos was changed into order, where noise became sound. We bear in mind that 'noises' of the forest are quite different from 'sounds'. 'Noises' relate to uproar, clamour, today's rackets, and tumult, whereas 'sounds' suggest vibration, resonance, pitch, intonation, and timbre. Thus, noises are often at the source of 'unnatural' actions, while sounds are all related to 'ordered' processes, and we immediately think of musical effects. Landslides and earthquakes make noises, while birds singing, but also tree leaves rustling, make sounds because they vary their pitches. Note, though, that musical instruments can represent the anger of nature by imitating sounds, often with harmonic accompaniment underneath. The fork in the road, then, was simply present when Man made the distinction between expressing himself by 'shouting' or by 'singing'. The difference then is choosing between what is psychologically dramatic or what rhythmically meditative. The first man 'yelling', resembles Antonin Artaud's "My Cry in the Stairwell" from his French radio broadcast To Have Done with The Judgement of God (1947), a sure manifestation of his principles advocating a 'Theatre of Cruelty'. Again, we are confronted with the thought of 'chaos', of what is 'savage', and a reference to Greek Tragedy. Friedrich Nietzsche (1872) dwells upon the Dionysian, and the ecstatic, intoxicated possibilities of music making. Yet, this is reduced to the 'scream' of the chorus, the force of human will and universal sentiments wherein all tragedy is born. Little wonder the German philosopher took to the Wagnerian theatre, finding his own 'swan song' in Isolde's ending words "... to drown, to sink unconscious, supreme bliss!" This is not purely Romantic if we associate the cleansing release of human emotion that restores order as something above the words themselves. Think of Sophocle's Electra, and her ecstatically Freudian victory dance ending the opera by Richard Strauss: "I bear the burden of joy. There is only one thing fitting for those happy as we: to be silent and dance!" The word is abandoned in favour of a furious, wild Dionysian death-dance, and we cannot but hear in the three, heavily accented notes played by the full orchestra the name of the revenged father being cried out: 'Ag - a - mem - (non)'. As we can see in Late Romanticism, then, we might see the tendency to carry the word over the threshold of emotion, exploring ever new modes of tonality in the hope of representing both a poetic text with poetic images. We were offered words by Beethoven in his Becalmed Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Opus 112, a choral setting of two Goethe poems, and, too, this before the images in Wagner's uninterrupted sea storm of an opera, The Flying Dutchman, or the melting 'spring storm' love aria from his Die Walküre. The first man is grappling with his outer world in a frantically exterior way. All this was to lead to Symbolism, to such an ideal combination of music and words as is the Claude Debussy opera Pelléas et Mélisande, where the characters speak and sing cryptically of inner emotions in seeming mono-tones. The composer himself declared that he conceived "... a different dramatic form in which music begins at the point where speech is powerless in expression; music is made for the inexpressible. I want it to have an air of emerging from a shadow, into which, at times, it should return... a discreet element". This is the world of 'exhaling', the 'half-sighs', where the horrors of existence are not faced by a life and death struggle, but rather by submission to fate and that very same life. Not by coincidence is it that the opera opens within the heart of a shadowy forest, within the depths of the orchestra (cellos, basses, bassoons) peacefully humming two slurred, legato phrases representing the distant, archaic setting of all fairy-tales. The stage action reveals Prince Golaud, lost while hunting and about to discover a weeping Mélisande beside a stream, terrified both of him and of her past. Our second man, in letting out those four pianissimo notes, or those four words, whether connected in a sentence form or not, is grappling with his inner world in a philosophic way. Not unlike Prince Golaud does he re-establish his contact with Nature and himself, and the woods or after-rain bring tranquillity. We recognise the four notes: the opening of J. S. Bach's Art of the Fugue. There is perhaps no better piece of music to demonstrate that language has 'overtones' (repercussions within a vacuum; a forest, one might envision) as does music, and that thoughts do strive for musically structured resolutions. We may suppose that we immerse ourselves in our thoughts immediately after they are conceived or pronounced through words. This is a key aspect of creativity and invention. All that is epistemological follows it own path towards a 'consciousness' of the surrounding world-order. When Jean Piaget (1968: 105) tells us that "... every word describes a concept, which then constitutes its meaning", he also remarks how the 'anti-mentalists' sustain that concepts do not exist, they being only the meaning of words. Regarding our investigation into the relationship of words to music, which seems to have its own codes of expression, many of the philosophically linguistic sciences offer no solutions. This if only because these tend to deal with the structures of 'spoken' language as a concrete manifestation of the desire to express needs or aspirations, as we mentioned at the beginning. In his The Unanswered Question, Bernstein quotes Noam Chomsky and his ideas about 'formal universals' (1976: 55), stating that it is often an 'unconscious' knowledge which allows us to produce and understand sentences, many of which "... have never been heard before". This supposes that they are, naturally, grammatically 'correct', yet does not preclude that the sentences themselves may make little sense as related to our so-called perception of reality. Chomsky states, too, that there are other rules for particular languages, and we wonder if music could be one of these. It would be necessary to define those 'semantic units' in a musical way, thus all of a melody could be turned into the understandable, 'transformed' as Chomsky advocates, or perhaps 'transfigured' in the Wagnerian sense of the word. Why not? This could be the key to decoding what a person is actually saying when creating a melody. Yet, we seem to be falling into the trap of using the orthodox forms of all modes of communicating an idea, and it is now important to discuss the 'universals' of a thought that belongs to oneself, and whether it is destined for others or not. The 'personal', as we saw in the epistemological research of Piaget, often belongs to the 'pre-conscious', a primordial zone belonging to children in the state of forming their intelligence in relationship to what is happening about them. Through such studies as Play, Dreams and Imitation and A Child's Conception of the World, we marvel at the child's possibilities of 'seeing' the world as he will, from the egotistical point of view of thinking that clouds follow him. They believe that all they see or hear through movement is 'transformed' into life itself, and thus a wave or the wind are believed to be alive. An open window may be the reason why images can enter into the space in front of them while they sleep, into that dimension which adults call 'dreams'. But be careful! Have you ever heard a child trying to create a melody on a xylophone? It is quite impossible to 'create' a reality here, and we remain with noise only. They, with their great, unspoiled sense of interpreting life, create only the common noises associated with 'uproar' or 'tumult', but seem to have little possibility of grasping the essence of such refined sounds as 'resonance' or 'intonation'. It is usually the case that parents or older children who 'listen' cannot bear the banging and bizarre rhythms for long. And then, there is that man 'exhaling' the first four notes of Bach's last fugue. The simplicity of a great musician in his desire to leave posterity with a 'perfect' fugue, a combination of four inter-woven melodies stemming from the first, has little to do with the disorder of a child's creativity. We have many times been led into believing that child-like simplicity contained essences of wisdom. A difficult proposal, this, yet we still wish for the 'unpolluted' in our post-industrial society, and believe in the likes of a 'pure fool', a Parsifal, to defeat evil and all that has gone wrong. Here, we link wisdom to what is 'innocent'. Musical composition is based on something more complex, requiring, no, not technique, but an 'inner ear' isolated from the goings on in the outer world. Mahler, composing in his little shed in the Dolomites, is an example of this. Think of his Rückert song, Ich bin der welt abhanden gekommen ('I have become a stranger to the world'), wherein he expresses the desire to be left alone "... in this my heaven, in my love, in my songs". It seems as if the need to compose is associated with the need to be alone, exactly the opposite of the baby experiencing the frustration of not communicating through 'noise', in a vain attempt to create musical 'sound'. Some children, we must not forget experience music extremely young, and assimilate what they hear. Mozart, the infant prodigy par excellence, is a prime example of this, his father being the contact. Richard Strauss, too, is said to have cried from the crib when hearing his father, Wagner's personal musician, play the French horn. Proximity to the process of music- making, wherein sounds enter into our inner selves as feelings is common to a great many of us, too, yet the experience does not guarantee musical sensibility. Nevertheless, any one of us could have devised those first four notes of the Bach fugue, or, at least, peck them out upon a keyboard. Of course, Bach turns them inside out with consummate musicianship, varying rhythms and accents; and this we expect in part from even the ordinary musician. Yet, there is something else, more than the aspects we attribute to genius. It is the mysterious way in which we sense what Bach is 'telling' us, what his discourse is as the notes develop, as musical sound takes form. We can only suspect the he is using a language of his own, one with a universal capacity to communicate convincingly. Fónagy (1982: 70) speaks of 'creative repetition', assuring us that a single sung note is different from a word because of its high level of redundancy, both horizontal and vertical. The ways to polyphony and harmony were open, and it seems natural that the language of music was to be based upon the sensation of being able to hear not only a single sound in space, but its complete run of notes, and the possible counter-melodies therein. Kandinsky (1979: 82), when speaking of the concept of 'line', tells us that "... spatial elements in sculpture and architecture, the tonal elements in music, the elements of movement in dance, and the word elements in poetry... all have need of a similar uncovering and comparison with respect to their external and their inner characteristics, which I call 'sounds'". The lessons of Paul Klee on perspective as found in the meticulous Theory of Form and Figuration gave composer-conductor Pierre Boulez (1989: 72) ideas about resolving time-space problems regarding musical acoustics. Then, too, there is Douglas R. Hofstadter's 800 page colossal discovery-study, Gödem, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. The entities of Math, Art Form, and Music are related to 'strange rings' in the process of being logical. In this, shadowy dimensions can help us relate to and understand multi-dimensional possibilities created through extraordinary inventions of the human brain. Lewis Carroll and his 'looking-glass world' take root here, and all existence becomes a metaphoric fugue. How far have we come from Bach's image-sound world of numbers and 'pictorial symbolism'. Notes can be thought of as numbers, and it was Albert Schweitzer to coin the expression 'Bach's tone speech', being a mystic fusion of words and notes resulting in a Bach language. The musical sounds of Bach's own overwhelming Matthäus Passion surrounds us, depicting such impossible musical contrivances as Christ's halo in the string instruments, a flight to heaven, the shape of a cross, and even a gesture of Christ's hand. The choral farewell to Christ in his tomb is closer to a lull-a-bye than anything in spiritual resolution. Again, 'universal' values through intuitions. In his novel Doktor Faust, Thomas Mann speaks of the elimination of the difference between 'professional music' and 'universal music'. Therefore, the man half-sighing is reaching out into the universe, communicating above even his own linguistic comprehension. In the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we were witnesses to the five oriental-like 'Om' organ notes scientists invented in a vein attempt to understand intellectually superior extra-terrestrials. Music, it would seem, relates to the formation and development of cognitive thought structures in a 'heightened' way. Goldman (1986: 233) speaks of the representation of musical cognition in terms of 'hierarchical' structures, with ties to language acquisition. He refers to sentences in the natural language form as associated with mental representations, they related to visual and temporal experiences. Music, too, lies within the confines of these intuitive, hierarchical structures. One returns to Chomsky's system of grammar, yet Goldman (1986: 235) quotes Schenker for giving credit to C.P.E. Bach's Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. We begin to realise that meaning and mental representation have less and less in common with 'musical' meaning. Our man humming alone in the after-rain is therefore simply giving voice to 'images', but, in turn, is uniting himself with 'higher' mental representations. Should he work out an entire counter-point unit as would a Bach, he would then be entering upon the lofty terrain of the 'other-world', of an inner essence that only music can touch upon. His musical voice is the tool by which he "... rationalises sound", as Santayana (1922: 53) reveals. Schneider (1951: 151) tells us that the true nature of spirits is 'acoustic', and it is thus natural that they are given nutrition to or are defeated by sound itself, that bridge between the living and the dead. Yet, let us not forget that within this sphere a concrete structure is present, it being an inner musical dialogue containing a host of sentiments. We are left with a divine mental representation: Johann Sebastian Bach standing alone between puddles, commenting not on the after-rain, but on the positions of the stars soon to be appearing in the heavens.
Every word is music Thinking about music can be a beautiful, radiantly artistic experience. The ideas that came into our minds lead us to consider the effects of melody and harmony, with the resultant sensation of having been active in the process of approaching something considered to be aesthetically rewarding. Very many of the mental images that come about when attempting to view the art of music as related to aspects of human existence are essentially indications of our moral character, especially wherein we desire to create what is perfect, what is harmonious. This, at least, is what Aristotle tells us in The Poetics (1951: 134). As it is natural and valid to make associations with and through our emotions directly, it would be difficult to observe, suspect even, that perhaps this might be an error. Emotions in themselves do not need music to exist, nor does music need emotional content in order to form a life of its own. The musical experience, then, as a language, remains somewhat limited in its abstraction, yet all the more powerful in its characteristic desire to define and depict poetic images. "What passion cannot music raise and quell!" states Dryden in his Ode for St. Cecilia's Day (later put to music by George Frideric Handel), and then goes on to describe the sound coming from that first of musical instruments, the chorded shell (lute), as "celestial". Thus, what is 'moral', 'beautiful', and 'harmonious' must be associated with the mystical other-worldly, the higher spheres, the godly. This, too, is made evident when we learn that to Cecilia's organ "... vocal breath was given, an angel heard, and straight appeared, mistaking earth for heaven". A phrase as such is representative of music's power to create images and elevate language through deed and not style, yet many of these very same visions are nothing more than ideas with no concrete reference points. Music, then, can attempt to approach the infinite, convincing us to be moved by our emotions without ever really explaining what the experience is. This is often possible through the use of words, which allow us to create a specific mental image. Yet, language, too, here deceives us as we need to connect an abstract musical sound to an equally abstract idea of heaven. We are here beginning to view structural forms of language as insufficient, while words themselves betray established truths about existence. Thus, too, limits in one's inborn musical intuitiveness reveal the limits of language, as the St. Cecilia quote mentioned just above proves. A heaven-bound angel deciding to head for earth instead becomes a symbol of an all-responsiveness to aesthetic beauty, and there can be nothing ever wrong in doing so. This is perhaps the only indication in all of Dryden's Ode that art and the irrational go hand in hand, as all else purposefully follows the idea that the "universal frame" is constructed upon a musical order. The effect of the angel's appearance is noteworthy because it is an 'unexpected' happening. We are as surprised as the angel by the reactions to another celestial sound, and are indeed pleased to have a heavenly visitor amongst us. Music, the 'higher' language of the emotions does, it would seem, enrich our earthly life, but it is a music linked to the human voice that takes flight. The aria "What passion cannot music raise and quell!" is introduced and supported, little wonder, by a cello, the instrument whose range is closest to that of the human voice. There are, however, no words spoken by the "god... within the hollow of the shell, that spoke so sweetly and so well", and, too, Aristotle (1951: 131) believed that "... Melody, even apart from words, has an ethical quality". Whether we can understand the importance of morality upon music making or not, it should not be forgotten that the Greeks dealt with spirit and meaning in music through the medium of 'rhythm'. They believed that the external movements of rhythmical sound were related to the movements of the human soul. Thus, all movement as put into action by rhythm and melody are the outward expression of inner mental states. The expansive proportions of this means of musical expressiveness are certainly linked to the neighbour art of poetry, true, but perhaps more so to dance. This we must understand in order to frame the classical proposal of 'conscious art', comprising imitations produced by rhythm, language, or harmony. Dance uses more rhythm than poetry, and is thus directly associated with music, indeed filling as it does a conceptually designated space. This can occur with language, too, and through dance and music, it assumes its place in space. All choreographic works accompanied by music leave their traces as results of the emotional outbursts of self-expression. Yet, this is usually linked to the idea of formal representation in space, but there is a philosophical basis to the patterns a choreographer chooses to fill space with, and this is something related to what Wittgenstein called 'logical space'. Surrounded by this, we have the science of language, and its relationship to music. Objects, we learn, exist in the time and space of now, and are related to their surroundings, even if not necessarily present. We can also believe that this is true for musical themes. The source doesn't have to be explained as it is readily understood, whether innate or not, but for sure is all part of that warehouse of linguistic terminology called 'conceptual relations'. We can thus create a reality for ourselves, believing that we are sharing our present space with another person or object. It is important that our sense of the world is concrete, and that we avoid the idea of 'nothingness'. There are, however, limits to meaning and to language. In fact, one who often ponders over the logically possible often comes to realise that it is in fact impossible to demonstrate a thought. Yet, when listening to the Beethoven Sonata and analysing it as we did, we suspected that through music there are other means for de-codifying the spirit of one's musical output. Usually, we are little encouraged to dwell on this as many of the great composers present no such problem regarding their musico-linguistic structures. Yet, though Haydn and Brahms seem solid, and not at all enigmatic, we have Bach wandering through a forest of spiritual emotions in his unfinished 'Contrapunctus XIV' from his The Art of the Fugue, and a sleep-walking Mozart playing through his K.540 Adagio in B minor for pianoforte. As it is difficult to isolate a thing or a thought from the facts which surround it, all the more mysterious is the output of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Much has been written about his creative output and his personal life, and it seems that there is, and this is unique, almost no relation between what we wrote and his personal life experiences. This seems to negate Wittgenstein's opening to his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, wherein the world is "... the totality of facts, not of things". Therefore, when making the common assumption that one's creative output should be directly related to one's every-life events, we limit ourselves to a cause-effect response from the artist, and to this alone. Wittgenstein saw the place of thoughts and objects in the world as being related to a greater whole, and we might well surmise that a Beethoven or Mozart would themselves be the "totality of facts" of their own world. Thus, apart from the so-called apparent 'existence' we share in living with others, these delicately inventive souls seem to possess their own world structures, and the mystery disappears. As Bertrand Russell tell us in his Introduction to the Tractatus, Wittgenstein's basic problem is in understanding what one means to say when they use a language, but also "... what relation one fact must have to another in order to be capable of being a symbol for that other". Language, then, through Symbolism, asserts or denies facts. Music, too, possesses these linguistic qualities, and the more we reflect, the more our analysis of the Beethoven Sonata appears to be sound. In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein passes through Epistemology, Physics, and Ethics before arriving to the Mystical, and this is most validly related to the mysterious aspects of music we have been attempting to relate to language structures. Death presages the mystical, and in 6.4321 of the Tractatus, we read: "Death is not an event of life. Death is not lived through". It follows thus, in 6.45, that we find "The feeling of the world as a limited whole is the mystical feeling", and finally, in the challenging Zarathustra-like tones of 6.54, "... He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder when he has climbed out through these propositions; he must surmount them, and then he sees the world rightly", In 7, the philosopher closes by telling us, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent". This is not the silence of Death, "timelessness", where one "... lives eternally who lives in the present", Carry these thoughts back to our Beethoven Sonata analysis, and you will find that a host of new words will flock up, and the Mystical will takes lasting root within the music of the spheres. And, then? Dryden closes the St.Cecilia with the apocalyptic vision of music "untuning" the sky. Jankèlèvitch (1961: &emdash;) closes his Music Is Ineffable with a chapter on Music and Silence, telling us: "Silence is the source of every thing. It is also the origin of music. Silence is the most profound and rewarding music of the divine. Meditation cannot be separated from silence", Music is indeed the art of meditation and contemplation, and we have perhaps discovered that language comes from the very same well-spring of silence as does music. Out of this, we have the first barely audible utterances with the musical characteristics of 'song', bringing to mind George Santayana's belief in (1922: 83) "... spontaneous expression, such as song". This idea is transmuted into words as Indian musicians call to each other while their raga reaches its transcendent culmination, or perhaps with pianist Glenn Gould humming in over-tone sounds while playing the music of any four-part fugue of Bach. Wittgenstein's 'logical space' might, too, be filled with words, attempting as they often do to confirm the importance of language. Bernstein resolves his 'unanswered question' by never understanding it, yet taking the courage to answer "Yes". And that is all. What else is there to say for now of 'innate grammar' in language and music? Perhaps, a story from the past will serve. We know that a Beethoven walking into a pub, drinking beer, smoking a pipe attracted the 'reverential awe' of his fellow men; Ehrfurcht is what the Germans call it. The deaf composer would take out a notebook and ask his friends to write their questions down, he sensitively having refused to learn to read lips. At times, he brought out another, thicker book, and jotted down something with his eyes almost shut. On one occasion, Schubert (who scribbled musical notes everywhere; on menus, tablecloths, etc.) was asked what Beethoven was doing, and answered, "He is composing". "But he is writing words, not notes", gasped another beer-drinker. "That is his method", Schubert assured; "... he usually indicates in words the course of the ideas in a composition, at the most adding a few notes in between. Art has already become science to him; he knows what he can do, and his imagination obeys his unfathomable reflection".