Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post

I agree with everything you say. My only point, and the only substantial difference between a viewer scanning through a photograph in time and a listener experiencing a piece of music in time, is that in the latter, the temporal organization, i.e., the order and speed of presentation, is determined by the composer/performers and the listener experiences the piece in that way only. When scanning a photograph or painting, etc., the viewer decides the order, the speed, if something gets left out, revisited, etc. In this latter case, scanning with one's eye, the brain is really working to get an impression of the object as it exists as a whole; it's instinctive and basic to visual perception. When listening to music, the brain has to be trained to recognize form, repetitions, variations, etc. as they are presented in time, using tools are aren't simply instinctive, but which require a higher order of processing; something learned.

The difference is not huge, but important. However, so are the similarities you point out, which lead to the myriad comparisons of two-dimensional, plastic and architectural art to music. Again, I'll posit that these comparisons are by way of analogy - i.e., extended meaning of those musical terms used for comparison, and are not really equivalent. They are nevertheless similar enough to make the analogy valid.

Sure, the artist often has tools to direct the viewer's attention in a certain order, but I really think that the experience of a static work of art is fundamentally different from that of one dependent on temporal organization.

I've got Oliver Sacks' book on the way. We can discuss that when I've read it (and digested it ).


Just like we don't have to take courses on English and grammar to speak and appreciate a good speaker, we don't have to understand music as a musician might have to. The brain has a natural affinity to appreciate music without knowing how to read a note. The same with photos and art in general. The ability of people to have art inspire feelings within them is in-born.