chapter  20
6 Pages

The Impasse of Musical Theory

For fairly obvious reasons the psychology of Music is often j | regarded as more backward than that of the other arts, and the impasse which has here been reached more baffling and more exasperating. But such advance as has been possible in the theory of the other arts has been mainly concerned with them as representational or as serviceable. For poetry, for painting, for architecture there still remain problems as perplexing as any which can be raised about music. For example, what is the dif­ ference between good and bad blank verse in its formal aspect, between delightful and distressing alliteration, between eupho­ ny and cacophony, between metrical triumph and metrical fail­ ure? Or in the case of Painting, why do certain forms excite such marked responses of emotion and attitude and others, so very like them geometrically, excite none or produce merely confusion? Why have colours their specific responses and how is it that their combinations have such subtle and yet definite effects ? Or what is the reason that spaces and volumes in Archi­ tecture affect us as they do? These questions are at present as much without answers as any that we can raise about Music; but the fact that in these arts other questions arise which can in part be answered, whereas in Music questions about the effects [169] of form overwhelmingly preponderate, has in part obscured the situation.