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1883 __ Melody
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Comment : Listening to music thus has parallels with the processing of experience generally, and at the level of analogy this was, as we will see, something the nineteenth century knew a good deal about. But what about music itself, as the record of a time and place? The connection between music and reverie is almost a common- place.it is indeed strange how potent music can be.and for most of us a tune, like a smell, can take us back to a particular moment in our lives, and in particular to the emotion attached to that moment. [...] Since music is not itself a representation, it seems that what we recall is an embodied state; and often that embodied memory is in turn accompanied by an image of a moment which is in some senses secondary, less potent than the ache of the musical memory. The possibility of memory relating to music in any more general way.and I am talking here about the nineteenth century.seems again inseparable from its status as a formalism, as astored set of notes which can be replayed at any time with the right instruments and players. Again we are left with the problem of music’s dual conceptualization: as abstract semiosis on the one hand; as time-bound and embodied performance and reception on the other. [...] Music then, for Schopenhauer, cannot provide a transcription of an actual moment. What music does record and transmit is the truth of the human struggle to structure temporality, to make sense of Time. [...] Melody thus figures the way in which we construct experience from the undifferentiated flow of time. The equation of ‘melody and consciousness’, as Asquith points out, has its origins earlier in the German romantic tradition; in Schelling and Hegel. But Schopenhauer also insists that musical genius does its work in a state akin to those of the mesmerized subject, ‘far from all reflection and conscious intention’. Schopenhauer’s answer to the question I asked earlier.what does music transmit?.is not an actual moment, but the travails of the Will. He writes that in our alienation from the natural world the Will is aroused and energized, allowing us to become ‘the trembling thing that is stretched and twanged’ ; and it is this painful struggle which musical genius manages to convey via a kind of twanging resonance in the listener. [...] A final important point about Schopenhauer: He argues that in its abstract rendition of the Will music is proleptic: if concepts are ‘abstracted from perception’ after the event, ‘music, on the other hand, gives the inmost kernel which precedes all forms, or the heart of things... the concepts are the universalia post rem, but music gives the universalia ante rem, and the real world the universalia in rem’ (Schopenhauer 1883, 340). This sense that music is the abstract container into which experience might flow is, he argues, what allows music to link itself to different occasions. Just as the same music can be used for quite different scenes in different film soundtracks, music can appear to haunt an occasion after its composition. It is thus not the echo of an occasion, but something which flows through occasions as atemplate, attaching itself to them. Schopenhauer’s view of music thus helps explain why music might attach itself to occasions, and even evoke a historical past. It offers some answers to the question of how we might negotiate between music as written composition and music as embodied performance and response. But it does so at some cost, sundering music from the realm of representation and from the other senses (from vision, for example.in this, Schopenhauer follows Lessing and Hegel), distancing it from its composer, and at the same time making its mode of historicity an abstract one. Music cannot store a particular occasion for Schopenhauer, only the experience of temporality per se; its qualities are the very opposite of the indexicality of the photograph. [...] In Schopenhauer and others, the attempt to explain how music related to temporality led to notions of music ‘storing’ human consciousness, emotion, and struggle, though the relation between musical text and its effects remained unclear. Recorded music offers some solutions to this problem: as Adorno argued, recording detaches music from an occasion (as musical notation does) and from an original producing consciousness, but nevertheless something of that consciousness, and indeed the trace of the body as music-producer, remains inscribed within it, rather than passing away. The music of Being, as described by Schopenhauer, is actualized in the process of recording, as it is in Thomas Hardy’s texts, in which music, detached from any particular consciousness and incarnated in its technology, figures human freedom. (Tim Armstrong, 2003)
Original excerpt : « From our stand point, therefore, at which the aesthetic effect is the criterion, we must attribute to music a far more serious and deep significance, connected with the inmost nature of the world and our own self, and in reference to which the arithmetical proportions, to which it may be reduced, are related, not as the thing signified, but merely as the sign. That in some sense music must be related to the world as the representation to the thing represented, as the copy to the original, we may conclude from the analogy of the other arts, all of which possess this character, and affect us on the whole in the same way as it does, only that the effect of music is stronger, quicker, more necessary and infallible. Further, its representative relation to the world must be very deep, absolutely true, and strikingly accurate, because it is instantly understood by every one, and has the appear ance of a certain infallibility, because its form may be reduced to perfectly definite rules expressed in numbers, from which it cannot free itself without entirely ceasing to be music. Yet the point of comparison between music and the world, the respect in which it stands to the world in the relation of a copy or repetition, is very obscure. Men have practised music in all ages without being able to account for this ; content to understand it directly, they renounce all claim to an abstract concep tion of this direct understanding itself. I gave my mind entirely up to the impression of music in all its forms, and then returned to reflection and the system of thought expressed in the present work, and thus I arrived at an explanation of the inner nature of music and of the nature of its imitative relation to the world which from analogy had necessarily to be pre supposed an explanation which is quite sufficient for myself, and satisfactory to my investigation, and which will doubtless be equally evident to any one who has followed me thus far and has agreed with my view of the world. Yet I recognise the fact that it is essentially impossible to prove this explanation, lor it assumes and establishes a relation of music, as idea, to that which from its nature can never be idea, and music will have to be regarded as the copy of an original which can never itself be directly presented as idea. I can therefore do no more than state here, at the conclusion of this ihird book, which has been principally devoted to the consideration of the arts, the explanation of the marvellous art of music which satisfies myself, and I must leave the acceptance or denial of my view to the effect produced upon each of my readers both by music itself and by the whole system of thought communicated in this work. More over, I regard it as necessary, in order to be able to assent with full conviction to the exposition of the significance of music I am about to give, that one should often listen to music with constant reflection upon my theory con cerning it, and for this again it is necessary to be very familiar with the whole of my system of thought. The (Platonic) Ideas are the adequate objectification of will. To excite or suggest the knowledge of these by means of the representation of particular things (for works of art themselves are always representations of particular things) is the end of all the other arts, which can only be attained by a corresponding change in the knowing subject. Thus all these arts objectify the will indirectly only by means of the Ideas ; and since our world is nothing but the manifestation of the Ideas multiplicity, though their entrance into the principium individuationis (the form of the knowledge possible for the individual as such), music also, since it passes over the Ideas, is entirely independent of the phenomenal world, ignores it altogether, could to a certain extent exist if there was no world at all, which cannot be said of the other arts. Music is as direct an objectification and copy of the whole will as the world itself, nay, even as the Ideas, whose multiplied manifestation constitutes the world of individual things. Music is thus by no means like the other arts, the copy of the Ideas, but the copy of the will itself t whose objectivity the Ideas are. This is why the effect of music is so much more powerful and penetrating than that of the other arts, for they speak only of shadows, but it speaks of the thing itself. Since, however, it is the same will which objectifies itself both in the Ideas and in music, though in quite different ways, there must be, not indeed a direct likeness, but yet a parallel, an analogy, between music and the Ideas whose manifestation in multiplicity and incompleteness is the visible world. The establishing of this analogy will facilitate, as an illustra tion, the understanding of this exposition, which is so difficult on account of the obscurity of the subject. I recognise in the deepest tones of harmony, in the bass, the lowest grades of the objectification of will, unorganised nature, the mass of the planet. It is well known that all the high notes which are easily sounded, and die away more quickly, are produced by the vibration in their vicinity of the deep bass-notes. When, also, the low notes sound, the high notes always sound faintly, anil it is a law of harmony that only those high notes may accompany a bass -note which actually already sound along with it of themselves (its sons harmoniques) on account of its vibration. This is analogous to the fact that the whole of the bodies and organisations of nature must be regarded as having come into existence through gradual development out of the mass of the planet ; [...] Bass is thus, for us, in har mony what unorganised nature, the crudest mass, upon which all rests, and from which everything originates and develops, is in the world. Now, further, in the whole of the complemental parts which make up the harmony be tween the bass and the leading voice singing the melody, I recognise the whole gradation of the Ideas in which the will objectifies itself. Those nearer to the bass are the lower of these grades, the still unorganised, but yet mani fold phenomenal things; the higher represent to me the world of plants and beasts. The definite intervals of the scale are parallel to the definite grades of the objectifi- cation of will, the definite species in nature. The de parture from the arithmetical correctness of the intervals, through some temperament, or produced by the key selected, is analogous to the departure of the individual from the type of the species. Indeed, even the impure discords, which give no definite interval, may be com pared to the monstrous abortions produced by beasts of two species, or by man and beast. But to all these bass and complemental parts which make up the harmony there is wanting that connected progress which belongs only to the high voice singing the melody, and it alone moves quickly and lightly in modulations and runs, while all these others have only a slower movement without a ( connection in each part for itself. The deep bass moves most slowly, the representative of the crudest mass. [...] Lastly, in the melody, in the high, singing, principal voice leading the whole and progressing with unrestrained freedom, in the unbroken significant connec tion of one thought from beginning to end representing a whole, I recognise the highest grade of the objectification of will, the intellectual life and effort of man. As he [Man] alone, because endowed with reason, constantly looks before and after on the path of his actual life and its innumerable possibilities, and so achieves a course of life which is intellectual, and therefore connected as a whole; corresponding to this, I say, the melody has significant intentional connection from beginning to end. It records, therefore, the history of the intellectually enlightened will. This will expresses itself in the actual world as the series of its deeds; but melody says more, it records the most secret history of this intellectually-enlightened will, pictures every excitement, every effort, every movement of it, all that which the reason collects under the wide and negative concept of feeling, and which it cannot apprehend further through its abstract concepts. Therefore it has always been said that music is the language of feeling and of passion, as words are the language of reason. » (Schopenhauer, “The World as Will and Representation” /Third Book, 1883)
Source : Armstrong, Tim (2003), "Hardy, History, and Recorded Music", in "Thomas Hardy and Contemporary Literary Studies", ed. Tim Dolin and Peter Widdowson, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2003.
Source : Armstrong, Tim (1998), "Modernism, Technology and the Body", Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Urls : http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_World_as_Will_and_Representation/Third_Book (last visited ) http://personal.rhul.ac.uk/uhle/012/0333_994450_15_cha10.pdf (last visited )

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