“The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.” “
— attributed to Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century (1932-1982), in Payzant (1962), cited in Glenn Gould: Music and Mind, p.64
The generic human need to make and listen to music, for instance, might be explained at the level of evolutionary psychology, but the emergence of the classical symphony certainly cannot. In fact, the insistence on finding explanations of cultural difference in terms of biological evolution exactly misses the point of the great evolutionary innovation represented by Homo sapiens, the massive development of non-genetic learning.
— Bernard Williams, English moral philosopher, described by The Times as the “most brilliant and most important British moral philosopher of his time.” (1929-2003), Truth and Truthfulness, Princeton University Press, 2002, p. 28.
Something has a "meaning" only when it has a few; if we understood something just one way, we would not understand it at all. That is why the seekers of the "real" meanings never find them. This holds true especially for words like ‘understand’. That is why sonatas start simply, as do the best of talks and texts. The basics are repeated several times before anything larger or more complex is presented.
— Marvin Minsky, American cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), co-founder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AI laboratory, Music, Mind, and Meaning, Computer Music Journal, Fall 1981, Vol. 5, Number 3
What if we’re not, in fact, meant to have language and music? (…) The reason we have such a head for language and music is not that we evolved for them, but, rather, that language and music evolved—culturally evolved over millennia—for us. Our brains aren’t shaped for these pinnacles of humankind. (…) These pinnacles of humankind are shaped to be good for our brains. (…)
They’d have to possess the auditory structure of…nature. That is, we have auditory systems which have evolved to be brilliantly capable at processing the sounds from nature, and language and music would need to mimic those sorts of sounds in order to harness—to “nature-harness,” as I call it—our brain. (…) Human speech sounds like solid objects events, and music sounds like human behavior. (…)
Being human today is quite a different thing than being the original Homo sapiens. (…) Unlike Homo sapiens, we’re grown in a radically different petri dish. Our habitat is filled with cultural artifacts—the two heavyweights being language and music—designed to harness our brains’ ancient capabilities and transform them into new ones.
Humans are more than Homo sapiens. Humans are Homo sapiens who have been nature-harnessed into an altogether novel creature, one designed in part via natural selection, but also in part via cultural evolution.
How did Einstein’s musical practice inform his scientific work
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” — Albert Einstein
“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge. (…) All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration. (…) At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.” — Albert Einstein cited in Paul Schilpp, 1979, Albert Einstein: Autobiographical Notes
“The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception." — A. Einstein stated to Shinichi Suzuki, musical historian and instructor cited in Shinichi Suzuki, 1969. “Nurtured by Love. A New Approach to Education”, p.90.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — A. Einstein cited in Alice Calaprice, 2000, The Expanded Quotable Einstein” p. 10, 22, 287.
“Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties.” — Hans Einstein, Einstein’s son cited in Ronald W. Clark, 1971. “Einstein. The Life and Times”, p106.
“After playing piano, he would get up saying ‘There, now I’ve got it’, something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.”
— Einstein’s sister Maja, cited in Jamie Sayen, 1985. ”Einstein in America”, p26.
“Einstein recognized an unexplainable connection between music and his science, and notes that Einstein’s mentor, Ernst Mach had indicated that music and the aural experience were the organ to describe space.” — Einstein’s close friend Alexander Mozskowski cited in Robert Mueller, 1967 unknown work, p171.
Q: One of my favorite definitions of time is that time is what stops everything happening at once. I wonder if music is what stops noise happening all at once? (…)
I’m sure when the first abstract paintings appeared, people said, “No figure, no structure,” etc… The point about melody and beat and lyric is that they exist to engage you in a very particular way. They want to occupy your attention.
I wanted to hear a music that could create an atmosphere that would support your attention but still let you decide where it was directed.
— Brian Eno, English musician, composer, record producer, singer and visual artist, known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music, in conversation with the novelist David Mitchell, Brian Eno: Success ruins artists, Salon.com, Oct 1, 2011
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample a kingdom down.
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
“Music is a holy place, a cathedral so majestic that we can sense the magnificence of the universe, and also a hovel so simple and private that none of us can plumb its deepest secrets. (…)
Yet it is more than all of these things. It is the sounds of earth and sky, of tides and storms. It is the echo of a train in the distance, the pounding reverberations of a carpenter at work. From the first cry of life to the last sigh of death, from the beating of our hearts to the soaring of our imaginations, we are enveloped by sound and vibration every moment of our lives. It is the primal breath of creation itself, the speech of angels and atoms, the stuff of which life and dreams, souls and stars, are ultimately fashioned.” “