Denton Jaques Snider.

Music and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic online

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chical counterpart, and which makes the
same thrill in answer to its echoes. These in
turn stir the pure Psyche or Self to its own
native activity (the Psychosis). Thus Music
moves from Unlife (sound-whorl) through
Life (cell- whorl) to Spirit (soul-whorl). It
may be said, therefore, to re-enact the evo-
lution of the world, as this sweeps from the


Inorganic tlirougli the Vital to the Psychical,
in the course of millions of ages. Some such
feeling or sense of intimacy with the crea-
tive source of the universe the great com-
posers in their inspiration have uttered.
Probably a meaning of this sort attaches to
the words in one of Wagner 's letters : what
this power is he says he does not know; "all
that I do know is that it acts from within to
without and that through it I feel myself to
be at the center of the world," when in the
ecstacy of composition.

Music may thus be said to ensoul sound,
and therein to represent the destiny of the
entire inorganic domain of Nature. Music
humanizes even noise, yea egoizes it through
its tonal transfiguration. But the supreme
fact of Music, according to its greatest seers
and interpreters is that it not only can sug-
gest but also reproduce the primordial proc-
ess of individuation, the process of the All
individuating itself into body, cell, and self
— into Matter, Life, and Consciousness. To
be sure not every listener can find this in a
Beethoven symphony or in a Wagner opera.
When the philosopher Schopenhauer says
that the world "is but a realized Music" we
have to grope in the dark to find some light
in his meaning. Noise he would include in
the universal Music — a conception "vvhich by


itself needs some illumination. From a dif-
ferent source we have been taught that all
discord is harmony not well understood; or
we may say that all noise has in it the as-
piration to become tone — to return into
itself and round itself out into the sound-

With this word our exposition has re-
turned from a far-striving digression, ger-
mane to the theme, however, and has touched
again the simple unit of Music as already un-
folded. How this unit affects the unit of
Life and then the unit of Soul has been suffi-
ciently indicated for the present in the fore-
going statements. Perhaps the chief sur-
prise will be that the cell is assigned such an
important place in accounting for the nature
and influence of Music. But if the vital act
in the cell can be roused by the musical tone,
the latter must be looked upon from a new
point of view, namely that determined by the
latest biological science, w^hich is essentially

We may add upon this subject the follow-
ing reflections which have their bearing up-
on Music. Man begins by incorporating him-
self in a cell which is the starting-point of
his long evolution, we might say of his cre-
ation. Moreover it is the cell which con-
nects man (and all living existence) with


the past ; lie receives liis inheritance of char-
acter and talent from his fathers through the
cell; all the progress of the ages has to pass
into and out of the cell ; history itself cannot
be excused from this cellular experience. It
is, then, the point of transmission from pa-
rent to child in all Life and what Life carries
— arts, sciences, institutions, civilizations.
It bears in itself the stream of all genius, not
only physical but moral and mental, and this
stream is what Music at its best can start to
flowing anew in a kind of renascence and re-
creation. (So we may understand certain
oracular declarations about the transcen-
dental character of Music by Wagner, Haupt-
mann, Schopenhauer, Lotze and others.)
Likewise we must regard the cell as the con-
necting link between what has been and what
is to be, the little genetic dot which is eter-
nally propagating the past into the future.
Very interesting becomes the unicellular
Amoeba, simply dividing and reproducing
another cell like itself, when we behold it in
its farthest significance as the prototypal
act of Life, even the human. Thus w^e may
contemplate the cell as the first living indi-
viduation of the Universe, which, as already
pointed out, Music must have suggested to
Nietzsche, through feeling it ''as if he were
present at the creation of the world by God, ' '

ixTRonrcTiox ox music— part it. xlv

and to Wagner who when composing seemed
to feel himself to be "at the center of the
world." To our mind the conception of the
cell and its place in Life gleams an illumina-
tion upon these enigmatic utterances. (Fur-
ther elucidations of the cell, especially in its
psychical relations, can be found in the cited
book, Blocosmos, p. 151, and generally in the
entire section on Cytology.)

And now let the thought be re-affirmed :
Music has also to pass through the cell, that
wee unit of Life, though in its own peculiar
way, along with the whole spiritual heritage
of man of which it is at its best a sort of sec-
ond creation. Thus Music may be said to
play before our soul the soul's own origin,
re-enacting in its pure movement of tones
our psychical evolution, and therein making
us re-enact, in feeling at least, our spirit's
birth and development. If this be so, the
supreme function of Music is to make us re-
create ourselves, make us renew the soul
at the original sources of its being, yea,
even to re-create that source itself, verily
the All.

But Music as a Fine Art possesses not
merely the power of moving the individual
as vital and as psychical; it has also a col-
lective nature and function. That is. Music
is associative, which trait is probably its


deepest worth, as well as that phase of it
which is to be unfolded in the future.

Looking back once again, we may repeat
that Music has the inner endoAvment of mak-
ing the transition from Matter to Life, and
from Life to Mind, which then rounds back
to Matter — all of which transitions are im-
possible to Science. Such is indeed the pri-
mordial musical whorl, universal and cre-
ative, the whorl of all whorls, embracing and
begetting them all. Every musical tone is
a sound-whorl (vibration), is also a life-
whorl (cell), and then is a soul- whorl (psy-
chosis). Still further, these three constitute
together a process, or the great whorl which
springs from primal creation, ''from the
center of the world," from God creating the
cosmical order. So we can say that every
truly musical note is a Theopliany, a mani-
festation of Deity in artistic form, very mi-
nute indeed, yet echoing in its wee round the
creative process of the All.

But now the single sound-whorl of Music
is to reveal its social character and to move
forward into a society with its fellows. As-
sociative it is inherently — which fact is next
to be set forth in some detail.


Music As Associative.

Having considered the sound-wliorl as an
individual object, we next pass to observe
the same in its varied combinations or or-
ganized forms, that is in its association. A
melody, for instance, is made np of a succes-
sion of sound-whorls arranged in a certain
order. Thev are associated into what is
popularly called the tune, being rounded out
into greater or less completeness. In like
manner a sonata is an association of those
musical individuals which we call the sound-
whorls, though it is far more complicated
than the mere melody. And the symphony,
the most diversified and complex of musical
organisms, is ultimately brought back to the
single sound-whorl, that indivisible unit of
Music, having its analogy to the molecule or
perchance atom of the natural body, or to
the cell of the living body. The musical com-
position is composed of these composite
units, and this is the best reason why it is
called a composition (of course with numer-
ous other things). Thus we behold the mu-
sical individual associated in many diverse

I. In this connection we may first take a
brief look at the fact that the cell, the primal


•unit of Life, wliicli the unit of Music (the
sound-whorl) stimulates immediately, is also
inherently associative. It lies in the charac-
ter of the cell that it cannot remain merely a
separate individual, or a knotted string of
protozoa, in a kind of unsocial aloofness. On
the contrary the cell has the bent to organize
itself with its fellows into new societies or
bodies; the many units of Life, isolated in
their first creation, push of themselves to-
ward associated unity which is their destiny,
subordinating themselves in a new order, yet
therein organizing and preserving them-
selves through their higher function. Thus
the cell has a tendency to self-composition,
composing itself into member, organ, and
the whole living body. Cellular individual-
ity, as we may call that primal fact by anal-
ogy, having first evolved from the protoplas-
mic life-mass, makes then a fresh and more
significant evolution by passing from its
purely individualistic condition to a newly
organized associated Life, in which the cell-
ular community becomes explicit and mani-
fest. Still we should not forget that the cell
in its living process (wliicli has been set forth
on a previous page) is already the implicit
community and shows the same in the mu-
tual co-operation of its living organs. Thus
the cell is associative bv its verv constitution,
derived primordially from the Creator.


Why is all this biology cited in a treatise
on Music? Because the tonal unit stirs agree-
ably the vital unit (the cell) being in agree-
ment with it — which fact is the basic one of
Music, as already indicated in the previous
section. Moreover the organism of sound-
whorls (which is the musical composition) is
directly correlated with the organism of
cells or life-whorls (which is the human
body). Tlius our frame thrills with the
sound of Music, responding to what is so in-
timately one with it. Not only is each sound-
whorl like each life-whorl (or cell) in form
and movement, but the total organism of
sound-whorls (the piece of Music) resembles
or agrees with the total organism of life-
whorls (the living body). Both organisms,
the musical and the vital, have their common
principles in the association of their ulti-
mate units of being. Sound-association and
cell-association are thus correlative; we
might call them lovers with a fore-ordained
affinity and oneness which can only end in
marriage, whose child is the concord of Mu-
sic or its ecstacy. The association of sound-
whorls stirs to fresh activity the association
of life-whorls (cells) in the living body, even
in that of the lower animal. And here we
should note again that Music has the power
of making the organism renew its life, which


fact is in a way a re-creation of itself, per-
chance a brief re-enactment of a long evolu-
tion from a uni-cellular animalcule to its
present summit of association.

II. We are now ready to pass to the psy-
chical part which has its correspondence in
association, and which is stimulated in its
turn by the associated life-cells of the total
living body. For this responds as a whole
to Music, not some member of it, unless the
latter be stirred to manifest the entire or-
ganism in a particular motion, as often in
gesture. That is, we observe here the move-
ment from the Inorganic through the Or-
ganic to the Psychic — a movement already
noticed in the previous section. But now
the wdiorl of sound, of life, and of soul is not
simply single but associated; the tonal, the
vital, and the psychical units are conjoined
into their own separate totalities, and the
first stirs the second which reaches the third.
Again we observe that the living frame, the
Organic, is what mediates the outer and in-
ner worlds, standing between and being made
up of the Inorganic and Psychic in complete
interpenetration. Or the associated sound-
whorls (in a piece of Music) set in vibration
the associated life-whorls (in the living
body), which communicate them to the asso-
ciated soul-whorls of which every human
Ego is made up.


Tliis last point may be expanded a little.
Man's existence is composed of many rounds
of experience which are associated in his
consciousness mider multitudinous forms.
Memory is a vast storehouse of past states
with their feelings. The mind is originally
endowed with certain tendencies which may
be cultivated or lie dormant for a long pe-
riod till something brings them to the sur-
face. In general, we may conceive the soul
as an associated work of millions of Psy-
choses, large and little, each of which can be
roused by the right stimulant. It is spe-
cially Music which has the power over this
inner associated soul-world, and sets it to
throbbing in manifold ways, stirring differ-
ent activities in different persons according
to their different experiences. Still there is
the one common principle of Music : its abil-
ity to rouse responsively the associated Psy-
che. Thus we witness again Music as a
kind of world artificer bridging a structure
from external matter through double-na-
tured Life to inner consciousness or spirit.
The associated units of sound thrill the as-
sociated units of Life which in turn send kin-
dred pulsations into the associated units or
rounds of Soul. It may be added the Psyche
is far more deeply and diversely associative
of soul-whorls than the Body is of life-whorls
or cells.


III. But here we approach the more im-
portant fact: this tonal association reaches
not merely the one soul or the one man or
the single person alone, but many individu-
als whom it associates in a new bond, in a
common sympathy. This is not simply
the inner association as subjective and
individual, but association now rises to
be objective and in a way universal. Many
separated human souls it unites in a society
of sound which represents all society. Music
at its best plays association itself — truly the
association of man in institutions. Music,
therefore, not merely humanizes, but also
socializes, yea institutionalizes. Its high-
est function is to prepare and to stimulate
the more or less isolated individual to
association with his fellows in the social

To be sure man has already formed this
social and institutional world as the very
condition of his existence. Through untold
ages he has been evolving along with his per-
sonal inner subjective life his outer associ-
ated objective life in and with institutions.
Now this long evolution exists in him, is in
fact the inheritance of every human being. It
is a large portion and w^e would say the best
portion of his vast transmitted store of psy-
chical wealth from his millions (it may be)


of ancestors. Man exists and progresses as
institution-maker, lie makes the world he
lives in and keeps on re-making it, propell-
ing it forward into new forms of association.
His associated life he continues transform-
ing into higher stages, to be the home as well
as the citadel of his freedom toward whose
complete realization he is moving.

Now it is this supreme association of man
in and through institutions which Music in
its supreme manifestation not only repre-
sents but rouses to activity. Noticeable is
the fact that Music in its complexity keeps
pace with the ever-increasing complexity of
the institutional world. How complex has
the Orchestra become in the last hundred
years ! How complex is the American State
in its Avorkings! And the socio-economic
Institution has developed so many intricacies
that they fill the age with their problems.
Music responds and becomes the most intri-
cate, subtle, comprehensive of the Fine Arts,
the most plastic in its material which is
sound, and accordingly capable of the deep-
est and finest organization. Here it becomes
the most modern Art.

A step further we may push the thought.
Man's body seems to have attained its organ-
ized shape, and to have become quite rigid
to the transforming might of Nature. But


man's mind drives onward with its evolution
in greater sweeps than ever; especially is
this the case as regards its power of associa-
tion, which thus has passed from its phys-
ical to its psychical era. Music would appear
to be the adequate artistic expression of this
epochal transition on account of its appeal
and response to the psychical side of man,
especially to the intricate association of the
same as this shows itself in the world of in-
stitutions. When all men of the earth are
associated institutionally in one great com-
monwealth, Music will doubtless evolve on
its lines to the same end, and will be playing
the echo thereof. Such an outlook we may
glimpse of the future in its associative as-
pect. Music is already the universal speech
of the society universal, even if it has its di-

IV. From this wide outreach of the psy-
chical element in man, we come back to con-
sider again the physical unit of his organism
which we have seen to be the mediating prin-
ciple of Music — the cell. Now this cell is the
earliest living individual, and has already
the strong bent to form societies with other
cells. Every member of your body and your
entire body as a unit are made up of a vast
number of microscopic cells, each alive and
active with its process as above set forth;


indeed some writers have ascribed to it al-
ready a consciousness. The single cell, hav-
ing started, has reproduced itself in Nature
with a vast multiplicity; there are unicellu-
lar animals (like the Amoeba) and unicellu-
lar plants (like the Bacterion) with one su-
preme function, that of generating other in-
dividuals similar to themselves. But the fact
upon which we are now to put our attention
is that this unicellular independence rises
into a multicellular interdependence. The
individual cell (like the individual man)
gives up its isolation and socializes itself
through its own instinct which is primordi-
ally psychical from the first Creator. Thus
the individual cell, the elemental unit of Life,
becomes communal, we should quite say in-
stitutional; at least it reflects afar the insti-
tutional world tow^ard which it is mounting
in its evolution. Very significant is the fact
that the cells of the human organism associ-
ate as the man himself associates with his
fellow-man, realizing in his civil order what
Nature has already carried out in his corpo-
real frame-work. Whence does Nature get
it? That is indeed ^ searching question,
hardly now to be answered; but we may
throw out the suggestion that it must ulti-
mately spring from the all-creative Universe
which is psychical, and which implants this


process in Nature, its creature, from her
primal individuation.

We are now ready for the thought that the
unit of Music, the sound-whorl, also associ-
ates in multitudinous new forms and organ-
isms of tones, like the unit of Life, the cell —
we may call it anew the cell-whorl, to empha-
size the similarity, since both have a common
psychical movement as already indicated.
Each measure, each tune, each sonata, sym-
phony, opera, is a vast organization of sound-
whorls, slow and quick, high and low, vari-
ously colored by all sorts of instruments as
well as by the voice. But however diversified
may be these musical forms, they are made
up of that ultimate unit which is ever round-
ing itself in time. The first note of the over-
ture as well as the total complicated opera
of Wagner is a sound-whorl, and is com-
posed of sound-whorls associated into a sin-
gle great organism.

At this point we are again to note the cor-
respondence between Life and Music in the
matter of association, for the point should
1)0 emphasized often. The vital units asso-
ciated in living organisms are immediately
stimulated by musical units associated in
tonal organisms — and stimulated to the feel-
ing of association, even stirred to an institu-
tional sense. A symphony of Beethoven is


a miglity organization of diversified soimd-
wliorls, and its deepest artistic effect is so-
cial; it associates a mnltitnde of sonls (the
audience) in the common emotion of associ-
ation ; it unifies through their joint unit a
mass of humanity, as well as images to them
their associated character. The musical
ecstacy of the orchestra is no longer the sim-
ple sound-whorl tickling the simple cell-
whorl to a new self-activity, that is to a fresh
self-creation. The associative soul of man
is made to thrill in one of its deepest and best
instincts, that of association ; the society of
orchestral tones socializes the listener espe-
cially in the pristine basic part of him, his
feeling. That we may well deem the ultimate
harmony of Music : it plays association and
attunes man to an institutional world which
he is to love wdth his heart as well as to un-
derstand with his brain.

There is no doubt, however, that Music at
certain times and in certain composers seems
to get tired of its own harmony and to be-
come negative to its transmitted law. It re-
volts against its primal spirit of association
and turns dissociative, separative, revolu-
tionary, quite anarchic. It no longer seeks to
fuse the recalcitrant individual into its or-
dered sound-world, but breaks him up still
more with protest, with discord, Avith tonal


damnation. We shall have to accept and to
comprehend such a negative condition as a
stage in the entire evolution of this Fine Art.
Still at present we wish to grasp the posi-
tive soul of Music and to penetrate to its
creative sources.

Here, then, we must repeat as our lead-
ing theorem that the ultimate unit of Music
penetrates to the ultimate unit of Life, mar-
ries it in a kiss of rapture, fecundates it to
a fresh act of self-creation, which gives the
primordial genetic pleasure of the musical
tone to the roused human sensation. The
sound-whorl with its round titillates to a
quiver of exaltation the vital cell-whorl
which again shares in the psychical process.
Even the total human organism at times
drops instinctively into a rhythmic vibra-
tion (as we may note in children) which can
find its primal impulse as well as its proto-
type in the movement of the cell. This is
doubtless the seat of the first pleasure in
Music, the stirring of the primal living act
of the organism which lies in the cell, and
which thereby passes to the blood, nerves,
muscles, in fine to the whole body, all of
which is cellular.

But it should not be omitted that this ul-
timate cell-unit, being organic, is combined
with its psychical counterpart in an indis-


soluble union, making, what we have above
called the life-whorl, which mediates the
soul-whorl and brings about a new pleasure,
the psychical, the highest attainment of
Music. Thus the musical tone reaches and
starts a-going the primordial act of the mind,
of human consciousness, and stimulates into
fresh being the first Self, or the elemental
Psychosis. Such activity is pleasurable, be-
ing free and unimpeded, and in its way
creative, stirring the Ego to fresh self-cre-

V. Science in these days has much to say
of the cell as the unit of Life, and is still in-
vestigating it with copious experimentation,
thinking perchance to come upon the very
act of the transition from dead matter into
the living thing. But this musical function
of the cell is something of a surprise. That
this cell is the little workshop in which Life
is first produced from Unlife has been
known ; but that it is the vehicle which trans-
fers and even transmits inorganic sound
from the outer to the inner world is a new
employment of it. Music as external can-
not reach to the inner Psyche except through
the living Physis. How can the sound-
whorl, which is outside of us and material,
get inside of us and become one with the
very movement of the Self! Only through



the cell, wliicli also has its perennial process
and may be designated as the cell-whorl,
this being the immediate original union of
Nature and Soul.

So the cell has become the primal musical

Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderMusic and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic → online text (page 3 of 32)