Denton Jaques Snider.

Music and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic online

. (page 29 of 32)
Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderMusic and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic → online text (page 29 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Body and that of the architectural Body —
the one adopted by the artist, the other con-
structed by the artist; the one is nature-
made, the other is man-made. All somatic
Art follows ultimately the one transmitted
model, real, immediately given; all Archi-
tecture follows its own model, ideal, medi-
ately given. Let us take a Greek temple:


the statue of the God within we may deem the
first or organic Body, the environing struc-
ture its second or inorganic Body which is
in decided contrast and even opposition to
the first Body, though determined by it,
sprung of it, and radiant at last with the
same spiritual significance.

Now the point which we would here em-
phasize is the twoness, dualism, separation
inherent in the character of Architecture. It
is fundamentally an enclosure, which must
contain in some form its corresponding ptart,
or rather its antithetic counterpart, the en-
closed. On the one hand it is not tied to any
traditional shape, like the human organism,
and thus seems very independent; on the
other hand it is determined by something out-
side itself, and thus seems very dependent.
Such is the doubleness, yea the contradiction
running through all Architecture : on the
side of form it is free, self-determined, while
on the side of spirit it is unfree, other-deter-
mined. In the Gothic church the enclosure
shows its freedom and even its caprice in
many a little outbreak of ornamentation;
still it is governed by the spirit enclosed
which must be manifested in this its second
Body all the more, since the first Body (in
somatic Art) has been largely discredited by
Christianity, and in part, though not wholly,


eliminated. It should be added that Archi-
tecture, through its freedom from the bonds
of any given natural form, becomes the more
easily formable, and hence is plastic to the
controlling Spirit within its enclosure.

Such is the essentially twofold character of
Architecture, which fact is here brought out
wdtli so much stress, since it puts this Art
into its true place in the order of all the Fine
Arts. It is second in the round, not first, 'as
it is usually arranged; moreover its basic
psychical attribute (which must be at last
its ultimate ordering principle) is sepa-
rative, dual, mediate, while somatic Art out
of which it unfolds is unitary, with separa-
tion only implicit, with form immediately
given by nature. Such a classification runs
counter to the succession of the Fine Arts as
generally received, which starts with Archi-
tecture, puts Sculpture next, then Painting
as third — all three being apparently on a par
and equally related. But it is plain that
Sculpture has a much closer and more inti-
mate connection with Painting than with
Architecture, though all three have a great
deal in common, fixity for instance and the
appeal to sight. Still we must reach down
more deeply and classify them by their most
essential differences and relations. In such
case the final controlling fact is the double-


ness of Architecture as distinct from the
singleness of both Sculpture and Painting,
or of somatic Art generally. Moreover these
Arts must be seen to take their place in the
total process of the Fine Arts (more technic-
ally stated, in the Psychosis of the Present-
ative Arts).

Architecture, then, builds an enclosure for
something not itself, which, however, de-
termines it. Still not every enclosure can be
deemed architectural ; a cowpen, a stable, a
hut, though they enclose, hardly rise to the
dignity of an Art. There must be a distinc-
tive element enclosed in order to make the
enclosure artistic. It must be the dwelling-
l)lace of the God, the home of the Spirit held
to be divine by the given folk, and it must
reflect his Presence within ere Architecture
rises to the surface as a Fine Art. We have
already noted in somatic Art that the human
organism merely as such is not the original
source of Sculpture and Painting, but that
there must be a descent of the Divine into
the Body whereby this is transfigured out of
its merely natural form, and is made radi-
ant with the light from the Eternal. Now
Architecture has to manifest in some way
that same supernal Spirit, which we com-
mune with in the truly religious statue and
picture. But it is the second manifestation


enclosing tlie first, yet revealing in its Art
the same creative essence. The Parthenon
is the transparent home of the Goddess with-
in. Hence in Architecture also there is wit-
nessed a theophany, a divine appearance
builded into the enclosure of the Deity's
l^resence. Such at least was its origin, as it
first sprang from the soul of the people. The
Egyptians would never have erected the
Pyramid, unless they had seen in it a sacred
revelation ; it might indeed be a tomb, still it
was the home of their King made immortal
by death, of their supreme man eternalized
in his second body, which has proved so last-
ing that it still excites our wonder.

The next important fact about Architec-
ture is that it is stronglj' associative. It
brings together in a united effort the com-
munity, the city, the nation perchance, in or-
der to build it, and when it is built, it be-
comes the center of association. The con-
struction of the medieval cathedral usually
focused the energy of a locality for many
decades, and it often remains today a monu-
mental witness of associative power which
has by no means vanished. Undoubtedly it
was religious Architecture which begat this
spirit of association. It has been already ob-
served that the earliest Architecture will be
the home of the God who unites the people in


a common worship and faith, that is, who
associates them in their deepest tie, and who
thus realizes for them their primal associa-
tive principle, even if this was already im-
plicit in them from nature. So it comes that
the people erect their first temple to the deity
who makes them a people, and whose char-
acter is transfused into this structural home
of himself, making it Architecture.

Furthermore this association of Man
moves from its germinal starting-point in
religion and passes into the various secular
relations of human existence. Hence insti-
tutions arise, such as Family, State, Society,
all of which are forms of association common
to the race, necessary forms, since they
spring up everywhere and at all times. Man,
accordingly, builds institutions as his spir-
itual abode which, however, must have its
visible counterpart in an actual abode, and
the latter has to be artistic as reflecting the
indwelling spirit. At this point Architecture
again finds its true domain as the builder of
the home of institutions, which is the habi-
tation of associated Man. The Capitol, the
City-Hall, the School-House, also the Bourse
are homes of institutions, of forms of associ-
ated Man, and hence must invoke Architec-
ture to build a suitable residence, for in all
these cases the enclosure should 'show an
image of the spirit within.


Religion, the common God-consciousness
was the prime association of human beings in
an institution, though animals have the gre-
garious instinct, while beavers build, and bees
construct. Architecture, however, erects the
edifice of human association and thereby be-
comes an Art, which thus has the ideal in it
transforming the real. Undoubtedly there is
a utilitarian side to Architecture, but the
utility must subserve the Art, not the Art
the utility. The temporal demand presses
and must be obeyed ; but the architect, unless
he be a mere builder, will use it to express
what is eternal.

Architecture is, accordingly, an enclosure
which has two faces, one turned outside to
the world, the other turned inside to the pre-
siding spirit, visible or invisible — each of
these faces being marked with its own char-
acter in relation to what is enclosed. Note
too that this enclosure divides space into an
outer and inner, cutting off a particular
space from the universal, keeping the one
inside and leaving the other outside, making
the one the God's own to contain his presence
and his worshipers. Still further, the en-
closing wall has two opposite characteris-
tics: down-bearing along with gravity and
up-bearing against gravity, supporting and
being silpported. This architectural inter-


play of opposites is of deepest import (see
our Architecture, pp. 39-43). Here we may
add that kinetic Art employs a form moved
from within (organic), while Architecture
employs a form moved from without pressed
down or held up or both together (gravita-
tive). Hence it comes that gravity is so em-
phasized in Egyptian and even in European
Architecture, having its end outside of itself.

In kinetic Art, therefore, soul and body are
immediately united and interactive ; in Archi-
tecture the soul is separated from the body
and is even in a very different sort of body.
The enclosure has a soul and reveals the
same, yet it is artistically determined by its
soul from the outside ; in its very separation
the enclosure is to tell what it is separated
from, thus pointing to its source. The Ar-
chitectural wall of the temple is originally
an eject of the divine form which it encloses,
and says so after its own way of speaking.
In a sense the God may be deemed in Art to
have two dwelling-places, the Body and the
Temple, tenements of the ideal are both of
them, and manifesting a divine epiphany.

Architecture has also this advantage : it
is historically the most complete Art, that is,
all its historical Types, Styles, Periods are
quite full}^ developed, without serious gaps.
On this side likewise we may call it the more


universal Art : it has not merely its one Clas-
sic Style of supreme excellence like Sculp-
ture, not merely its one Romantic bloom like
Painting, it lias both in quite equal excellence
and more ; it has lived the entire artistic life
of the ages more adequately than any other
Art, and this is what adds so much value to
its purely theoretic study. For instance it is
the only one of the Fine Arts which has man-
ifested all three of the supreme Types of His-
tory, Oriental, European, Occidental. Al-
ready it has been repeatedly intimated in the
course of this book that Architecture is the
unique Art which has evolved an Occidental
or American Type in distinctive contrast
with the Architectural Types of Europe and
the Orient. (See our special work on Archi-
tecture, Introduction. Any extended develop-
ment of this Art in the present connection
we shall have to drop, referring the reader
who may wish further details on this subject
to the aforesaid work.)



In the entire sweep of the Fine-Arts, or
the Sense-Arts, we have reached the third
great stage or manifestation, which is Music,
and which correlates with the Somatic Arts
(Sculpture, Painting, Kinetic Art) as the first
or most directly given stage, and with Archi-
tecture as the second or separative stage.
Already in the Introduction we have started
with the unit of Music called the sound-whorl,
and from it have unfolded an outline of the
superstructure of Music culminating in its
completest form, the Orchestra. At present
we shall put special emphasis upon the place
of Music in the cycle of the Fine-Arts and the
26 (401)


psycliical grouiul thereof, along with some
reflections seeking to fathom its ultimate

Fundamentally, then. Music is to be
grasped as the reconciler, mediator, liarmo-
nizer. Its place as third in the supreme ar-
tistic round indicates its general nature: it
interlinks and unifies the total sweep of the
Fine-Arts, which are through it not merely
so many separated products (as in the first
two stages), but also the uniting process, not
merely the created but also the creating as
represented in its movement. Moreover its
smallest constituent, its genetic unit or
atom, the mentioned sound-whorl, has in it-
self the whole process self-separating, yet
self-returning, wherein it is the complete mu-
sical act as germinal. This manifests, ac-
cordingly, the ultimate harmony, the basic
act of Music in which the dualism of Nature
is continually being overcome into unity.
Such is not simply the typical form of Music
but the real constituent out of which it is
built from its simplest to its most complex
compositions (see preceding Introduction,
vii, XX, et passim).

Here we are to note again that this unit of
sound, which is the ultimate musical tone,
stirs the corresponding elemental unit of the
Self, which we may call by analogy the soul-

MUSIC. 403

whorl (Psychosis). This is the primal agree-
ment of Music, marrying (so to speak) the
first inner process of the Ego to the outer
process of tone and filling the soul with thrills
of its o\tn primordial activity, which is in-
deed a kind of self-creation. Still between
these extremes, the Inorganic and the Psy-
chic, or between the sound-whorl and the
soul-whorl, there lies a mean, the organic cell
or life-whorl which shares in both sides and
conjoins them. Such is the original triple
chord which is heard in every musical tone,
without which trinity of Sound, Life and
Soul, it could not be at all. (The further de-
velopment of this biological element in Mu-
sic is given in the Introduction, Part II, p.


If in the present field we compare Music
with the Somatic Arts, we shall note first of
all that the former seize upon the fixed
Body (the human mainly) which is crystal-
lized in a single moment of Time, while Mu-
sic breaks up this crystallization, and sug-
gests the creative process behind all these
bodily shapes of Art springing from the psy-
chical act of their creator, which act, how-
ever, they have to leave out. But Music
seizes upon just that as its content, and moves
in Time, dissolving the fixity of Space. The
end of Music is not the product as a thing



separate and by itself (like a statue for ex-
ample), but the process lying back of it and
making it appear, the process of the prod-
uct's own production. The musical sculp-
tor is not simply to make a statue outside of
Idmself, but he is to include his own act in
his Avork, which is to be not only his realized
concept, but is to be filled with his creatively
active conception. Music may be taken as
plastic, the block of marble being the air, but
such Sculpture is to embody at the same time
its OAni creation in artistic representation.
If the sculptor can bring deity down into
stone. Music reveals him (the sculptor) in
the very act thereof, Phidias as God-maker
of Zeus is outside of his God, but Beethoven
puts him inside, showing the process of the
supreme God moving from the soul of the
artist and taking the corresponding form.
Thus Music also is or can be a Theophany in
its way, representing the divinely creative
movement of the Universe.

In some such manner we may conceive
Music, as the last and completest of the Fine
Arts, to go back and take up Sculpture as
the first and most immediate and most mate-
rial of the Fine-Arts, interlinking with the
same in the finished artistic round, which is
also psychical. Music we may conceive as
returning to Scidpture in all the latter 's sen-


MUSIC. 405

suous fullness of length, breadth and thick-
ness, and supplying what it lacks, namely its
own creative presupposition.

If we scan the other two Somatic Arts in
relation to Music, we find that Painting is
drawing tow^ards it, that is, the picture is
closer to Music than the statue. The picture
with its variety of colors suggests an inti-
mate analogy to the variety of musical tones ;
still further, it bears within itself a greater
sum of motion, even if its figures do not move,
than Sculpture, burdened as the latter is with
its solid material. So we may say that Paint-
ing shows a striving to get out of its fixity,
which striving will be realized in Music,
whose prime element is its time-movement.
Still in the Kinetic Art the body will mani-
fest movement, which, however, is not yet
the form of the pure inner psychical process,
but is the outer corporeal act itself. In gen-
eral, then, we may observe that all three So-
matic Arts are marching one after the other
toward Music, which thus seems to be their
inner and higher aspiration, whose fulfil-
ment, however, is their dissolution.

The second great division of the Fine
Arts, Architecture, is yet closer to Music
than the first or Somatic. All Architecture
is primarily an enclosure, and hence is two-
fold, separative; it is the abode of the God,


or of tlie Institution, and so it lias an outer
and inner, or the built shell and its indwell-
ing spirit, the latter determining the struc-
ture as its own yet as wholly different from
itself. This dualism so striking in Architec-
ture, is what Music takes up but overcomes
through its elemental process; the basic
sound-whorl, we must recollect, is self-sepa-
rating, but likewise self -returning, thus mas-
tering its own inner division. Hence Music
is the harmonious and harmonizing Art,
though it too can fall into discord and violate
its own law. It gives the very process of the
inner becoming outer and the outer becoming
inner, and thus solves the fixed twofoldness
of Architecture which from this point of
view may be called "frozen Music."

In contrast with Architecture generally.
Music can be deemed upward-bearing, as-
cending by nature from the earth heaven-
ward ; the propagation of the sound-whorl is
around and above, and bears the soul of man
along. On the whole Music like its medium,
the air, is degravitative, while Architecture
strongly gravitates with its massive stones;
hence Music is felt to be necessary in the
church, as complementary to the edifice, and
likewise as counteractive, carrying aloft the
worshiper Godward. We may note that the
Gothic cathedral with its pointed forms

MUSIC. 407

shows a mighty struggle against its own
gravity, yet cannot structurally help itself.
But the High Building through a construc-
tive device masters the down-bearing appear-
ance of all former Architecture, both Oriental
and European, and flies upward quite at will.
So we dare affirm, even amid the jeers of the
whole cohort of Art critics, that the Ameri-
can High Building is more deeply harmoni-
ous, is more closely kinned with Music than
any other form of Architecture. And we
may add that this ascent, this rise from be-
low upward means democracy in Art, which
has always been hitherto essentially aristo-
cratic both in form and meaning, since it has
put stress upon the descent from above down-
ward. The ultimate act of both Sculpture
and Painting for instance, was the coming-
down of God into Man or into his bodily coun-
terpart, not the rise of Man to God, who is
no longer to be simply given him from the
outside, but whom he is to re-create through
the new Art sprung of the new consciousness.
Already in the State we can observe the great
world-historical change : the Law is no
longer given us from above downw^ard, but
rises from below upward, from the soul of
the folk who thus can be said to govern them-
selves. So the High Building is not down-
pressing in character, even if it gravitates,


but Up-bearing, ascending, in a sense earth-
defying. Thus it runs counter to all the old
rules and the old artistic effects of Architec-
ture, to the horror of the average technical
architect and critic sunk in European stand-

It should again be emphasized that the
sound-whorl as the fundamental fact of Mu-
sic is what classifies it among the Fine-Arts.
As its character is this continuous self-di-
vision and self-return, ever expanding be-
yond yet ever contracting itself anew (a tonal
diastole and systole of the world's heart).
Music hence belongs to the third and final
stage of the total artistic movement ; it is al-
ways coming back to itself and thus complet-
ing the Psychosis of the Fine- Arts taken to-
gether, which, mentioned in common order,
are Sculpture, Painting, Architecture, whose
entire movement is capped by Music with its
sound-whorl. And this sound-whorl, always
moving in itself, is the total process of Art
as heard, its audible summary and culmina-
tion. In Music, Art, as a manifestation of the
sense-world, gives the last form of its own
self-expression; the sound- whorl turns it
back, we may say, on itself and finishes the
artistic round.

It should be noted here that Poetry is not
included under the head of the Fine-Arts

MUSIC. 409

which wholly lie within the realm of the
senses, (hi the other hand Poetry in the
main moves ontsicle the range of the world
sensed, and enters the world imaged ; so that
Poetry and its kindred Arts should be ranked
in a wholly new division which we may name
the Image- Arts, in contrast with the preced-
ing Sense- Arts (or the Presentative and
Representative Arts).

The relation of Music to Architecture has
already been designated, with an allusion to
the popular saying : ' ' Architecture is frozen
Music;" that is, the sound-whorl is fixed,
solidified crystallized — and perchance icicled.
Certainly the Psychosis of stone does not
start the emotions to racing like the musical
whorl with its direct appeal to the psychic
process itself. We have often thought that
the above suggestive saying might be turned
about: Music is fluid Architecture. Many
fixed structural forms show the rounded
sweep of the Psyche, but seized by a stony
grip and held fast forever, like weeping Ni-
obe transmuted into the rock on Mount Sipy-
lus. For example, the Greek Column makes
us feel its inner process as the eye moves up-
ward from Base, through Shaft, to Capital,
which last quite returns in form to the first,
since the square plinth at the start is essen-
tially repeated in the square abacus at the


top, SO that we even sense the beginning con-
joined with tlie end. Indeed w^e may well
note the next form from below (the torus)
returning to itself in next form from above
(the Echinus), both of which are round and
bulged. Thus the Greek Column is the psy-
chic process petrified, a Psychosis in stone,
and this we hold to be its deepest and truest
artistic effect. It stirs us to the ultimate
act of our individual self-hood, and puts us
into harmony with the self-hood of the All.
We are not to forget that the Greek Column,
as well as its Egyptian prototype, was born
of the religious consciousness; the vision of
it was to rouse the feeling of worship, to
bring the human beholder into communion
with the God. Thus it performed in its way
the highest function of Art, which was to re-
veal the Divine even to the senses of man.
That suggestion it still bears, wherever we
may find it, and this is the quality which
makes it truly beautiful. The Greek Col-
umn may be deemed the most architectural
of all constructive forms — the most repre-
sentative of its Art, having a more decisive
note of universality, as we may see by its
thousandfold applications, great and small.
The race seems to have taken it as its own,
though playing upon it and around it many

MUSIC. 411

So the typical stone-wliorl of Art may be
deemed the Column, echoing in its fixed round
the fluid sound-whorl of Music, wherein their
close kinship is to be remarked. Nor should
we fail to observe that this columnar stone-
whorl is made up of a number of lesser sim-
ilar whorls ; we may observe the Base to have
in the main its triple sweep of forms (the
plinth, torus, taenia, with some fluctuations) ;
so the Shaft has its threefold process, and
also the Capital. A like repetition of sound-
whorls we noticed in the forms of Music.
And the whole Greek Column is at last seen
to be but one member of a larger round self-
returning, namely the Peristyle of the Tem-

Still Music has movement as distinct from
the moveless forms of Architecture, though
we may call them whorls for sake of the com-
parison. But on the side of its motion Mu-
sic goes back to the early appearance of Art
in the Dance" and interlinks with the same ;
the corporeal rhythm, which is also a kind
of whorl, suggests Music and calls forth a
primitive sound-whorl for its attunement.
Music and Dance are coupled together in na-
ture as well as in Art, in the simple childisli

Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderMusic and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic → online text (page 29 of 32)