Music and the Numinous (Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, Volume 8)

Music and the Numinous (Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, Volume 8)

Richard Elfyn Jones

Language: English

Pages: 125


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The continuum of music-what is it, what does it do, how does it do it-has taxed countless philosophers over recorded time, and even the verb for what it does (express? arouse? evoke? symbolize? embody?) meets with no universal agreement. Not always is music admired: in the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet likens the skilled musician to an ineffectual preacher. Richard Elfyn Jones brings new ideas to the conundrum by taking up certain philosophers not usually cited in connection with music, in particular Alfred North Whitehead and the classical Greek notion of process (as opposed to event), and thus of process theology. The book opens up an original approach to the transcendent and, to many, the sacred quality heard in music, drawing both upon authorities concerned with the numinous (that feeling of awe and attraction behind religious experience) and upon his own lifelong engagement with music as scholar, teacher and composer.

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sometimes very obscure and idiosyncratic philosophy. Behind the visible world as its ultimate source and ground is what Plotinus calls the One, which is ultimate reality in its “first hypostasis” and which is beyond all conception and knowledge. This is variously described as the Good, or the Infinite. Different functions of the One are known as its second and third hypostasis, the second hypostasis being Intellect or Mind, the Divine Knower (nous), the Platonic Forms (or ideas), thus the

as cited by Rescher in The Philosophy of Leibniz. 29. Bryan Magee offers a lucid definition of the problematic term “Will” in his The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, revised edn., (Oxford 1997), pp.124-5. 30. Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation tr. E.F.J.Payne, (New York 1969),Vol.1, p.184. 31. ibid., Chapters 23 and 24. 32. Magee, op.cit., p.176. 33. Schopenhauer, op.cit., Vol.1, p.256. 34. See Magee, op.cit., p.182. 35. Schopenhauer, op. cit., Vol 1, p.262. 36. ibid.,

with the four successive periods of divine revelation. Octave I (harmonics 1, 2) now symbolise God the Father as he was before Creation; II (harmonics 2, 3, 4) the time of the Old Testament, when the Trinity was concealed; III (harmonics 4, 5, 6, 8) the time of the New Testament, in which the Trinity was revealed; IV (harmonics 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16) the melody of the Christian life, in earth and heaven. His association of these ascending octaves with what he called the “trumpet scale” (the

explained by aggregating its three components. In both melody and harmony we can deduce why the language of diatonic music takes the form so familiar to us. By extending our argument to more complicated areas it is possible to come to similar, if more complex, conclusions about chromatic music. With atonality the conscious rejection or contradiction of these gravitational forces is an issue in itself. Indeed this analytical method gives no explanation of chromaticism, which of course has been

For it is not the absolute which has the relation ‘in’ the actual relative, but A Whiteheadian Aesthetic and a Musical Paradigm 89 rather and only the relative which as the relation, “containing” the absolute; just as it is the particular subject which has the cognitive relation to the object, while the latter is only nominally “in” this relation. And, indeed, since an abstraction cannot actually know, it can only, when we speak of it, be something known, an object. Thus the absolute is a

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