Thomas Wulf wrote:
>PS: I'm still wondering why it is that I feel so much better about the
>idea of absolute music and still listen mainly to the other 'impure'
As Steve Schwartz points out, no composer of the Baroque or earlier
periods would have understood what this correspondent was talking about.
Bach, whose music would now be cited as the highest example of absolute or
"pure" music, often wrote extremely programmatic (or "impure"?) music in
his cantatas: when the text mentions the sea, the accompaniment rocks and
undulates, etc. etc. Both Byrd and Biber (amongst others) wrote
instrumental music meant to evoke scenes of battle. And so on.
Steve Schwartz wrote:
>Is there a way to measure these things in someone who has no language,
>or can we even say that such a person thinks? How would we know?
There exists a small psychological literature on children who were
isolated during the language-learning window of early childhood, and
hence had to learn proper language late (discussed a little in "A Brief
History of The Mind" by William Calvin). My recollection of the book
is that these children are never able to learn the complex syntax of
grammatical language; and also show deficiencies in generalization, in
symbol manipulation, and in visualizing long sequences of actions---the
latter being the peculiarly human trait that Calvin argues is connected
to syntactical language. From the point of view of this discussion, it
would be interesting to know how these children respond to music. I
don't know. Does anybody?