Page:Essentials in Conducting.djvu/54

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ESSENTIALS IN CONDUCTING

Is the symbolization pervasive enough to account for the steady continuing charm of lengthy compositions? … The symbolizations … mostly resemble patches; they form no system, no plot or plan accompanying a work from beginning to end; they only guarantee a fitful enjoyment—a fragment here, a gleam there, but no growing organic exaltation like that actually afforded by musical compositions.

At another point in the same work, this writer again discusses this same matter (page 120):

Music is presentative in character, not representative. Measure, to be sure, may correspond to the beating of the pulse, and the final cadence may picture the satisfaction of desires; the coda may simulate a mental summary; but the composition in its totality, with its particular melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, and with the specific union of all these elements characteristic of this composition, does not represent any definite psychical or material fact.

The majority of us would doubtless take a middle-ground position, admitting the beauty and power of music, per se, but acknowledging also the fact that abstract beauty together with a certain amount of suggested imagery, in combination, will usually make a stronger appeal to the majority of people than either element by itself. Many of us are entirely willing to grant, therefore, that a more complex and more vividly colored emotional state will probably result if the auditor is furnished with the title or program of the work being performed; but we contend nevertheless that this music, regardless of its connection with imagery, must at the same time be sound music, and that no matter how vividly descriptive our tonal art may become, if it cannot stand the test of many hearings as music, entirely apart from the imagery aroused, it is not worthy to endure. It is not the meaning of the music which makes us want to hear it repeated, but its inherent beauty; it is not usually our intellectual impression, but our emotional thrill which we recall in thinking back over a past musical experience.

Those of us who take the middle ground that we have just been presenting contend also that descriptive music