Music is an art form that involves sounds and silence. Music may be used for artistic or aesthetic, communicative, entertainment, or ceremonial purposes. The definition of what constitutes music varies according to culture and social context.
- What is called music today is all too often only a disguise for the monologue of power. However, and this is the supreme irony of it all, never before have musicians tried so hard to communicate with their audience, and never before has that communication been so deceiving. Music now seems hardly more than a somewhat clumsy excuse for the self-glorification of musicians and the growth of a new industrial sector.
- Jacques Attali, in Classic Essays on Twentieth-Century Music (1996), p. 122
- Despite the fact that as an art, music cannot compromise its principles, and politics, on the other hand, is the art of compromise, when politics transcends the limits of the present existence and ascents to the higher sphere of the possible, it can be joined there by music. Music is the art of the imaginary par excellence, an art free of all limits imposed by words, an art that touches the depth of human existence, and art of sounds that crosses all borders. As such, music can take the feelings and imagination of Israelis and Palestinians to new unimaginable spheres.
- Ancient belief in a cosmos composed of spheres, producing music as angels guided them through the heavens, was still flourishing in Elizabethan times. ...There is a good deal more to Pythagorean musical theory than celestial harmony. Besides the music of the celestial spheres (musica mundana), two other varieties of music were distinguished: the sound of instruments...(musica instrumentalis), and the continuous unheard music that emanated from the human body (musica humana), which arises from a resonance between the body and the soul. ...In the medieval world, the status of music is revealed by its position within the Quadrivium—the fourfold curriculum—alongside arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. Medieval students... believed all forms of harmony to derive from a common source. Before Boethius' studies in the ninth century, the idea of musical harmony was not considered independently of wider matters of celestial or ethical harmony.
- John D. Barrow, The Artful Universe (1995)
- Our sensitivity to changes of pitch ... is underused in musical sound. Western music, in particular, is based on scales that use pitch changes that are at least twenty times bigger than the smallest changes that we could perceive. If we used our discriminatory power to full, we could generate an undulating sea of sound that displayed continuously changing frequency rather like the undersea sonic songs of dolphins and whales.
- John D. Barrow, The Artful Universe (1995)
- Someday you will be a man,
And you will be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying Johnny B. Goode tonight.
- The ascetic Gotama … avoids watching dancing, singing, music and shows. He abstains from using garlands, perfumes, cosmetics, ornaments and adornments. … He refrains from running errands, from buying and selling.
Monks, you should dwell with the doors to your senses well-guarded. ...
On hearing a sound with the ear, do not grasp at any theme or details by which — if you were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the ear — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail you. Practice for its restraint. Guard the faculty of the ear. Secure your restraint with regard to the faculty of the ear.
- Gautama Buddha, Kumma Sutta, as translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will guard the doors of our sense faculties. On hearing a sound with the ear, we will not grasp at its signs and features. Since, if we left the ear faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and grief might invade us, we will practice the way of its restraint, we will guard the ear faculty, we will undertake the restraint of the ear faculty.'
- Oh, that I were
The viewless spirit of a lovely sound,
A living voice, a breathing harmony,
A bodiless enjoyment—born and dying
With the blest tone which made me!
- Our music has sprung from the patient, incessant, and progressive penetration into the law of resonance, that is to say, from the successive exploitation of the octave, the fifth and the fourth (ninth to twelfth century), the third (thirteenth to sixteenth century), the seventh (seventeenth and eighteenth century), the major ninth, the augmented fifth, and the perfect eleventh (nineteenth and twentieth centuries) . . . . this evolution . . . . constitutes, at the same time, the only true justification of the musical art.
- The Evolution of Music, Alfredo Casella, quoted in Miller, Horace Alden (1930). New Harmonic Devices, p. 96.
- Music is mere beauty; it is beauty in the abstract, beauty in solution. It is a shapeless and liquid element of beauty, in which a man may really float, not indeed affirming the truth, but not denying it.
- We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer.
- J. Reuben Clark, LDS Conference Report, Oct. 1936.
- "Music" includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.
- Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Section 63 (1)(b) (United Kingdom).
- This section attempts to define music played at raves, in order to give police power to ban them. It was widely ridiculed at the time and since (see, e.g., Marcel Berlins, "Writ Large", The Guardian, February 1, 1994).
- In order for music to free itself, it will have to pass over to the other side — there where territories tremble, where the structures collapse, where the ethoses get mixed up, where a powerful song of the earth is unleashed, the great ritornelles that transmutes all the airs it carries away and makes return.
- Gilles Deleuze, from his Essays Critical and Clinical, p. 104.
- One of my friends whom I hold in high esteem admitted to me the other day that when he wants to work nowadays … he has to turn on his radio. The droning of the loudspeaker—so he says—puts him in a favorable frame of mind and ideas pour out. I cannot help but thinking that this is not the act of a true musician. For thought has a rhythm of its own, which must either clash with the rhythm from outside and lose energy, or else submit to the outer impulse in restless slavery.
- Georges Duhamel, In Defense of Letters (1937), E. Bozman, trans. (1939), p. 34
- Music is like a mirror in front of you. You're exposing everything, but surely that's better than suppressing. … You have to dig deep and that can be hard for anybody, no matter what profession. I feel that I need to actually push myself to the limit to feel happy with the end result.
- Enya, as quoted in "Everyone thinks I'm so shockable", an interview with Neil McCormick in The Telegraph (24 November 2005).
- Better to listen to a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.
- Ecclesiastes 7:5
- It appears to me that the subject of music, from Machaut to Boulez, has always been its construction. Melodies of 12-tone rows just don't happen. They must be constructed. … To demonstrate any formal idea in music, whether structure or stricture, is a matter of construction, in which the methodology is the controlling metaphor of the composition... Only by 'unfixing' the elements traditionally used to construct a piece of music could the sounds exist in themselves—not as symbols, or memories which were memories of other music to begin with.
- Music is something everyone on Earth can share. Music is meant to heal us, to bring us together, to make us happy.
- The emphasis of study upon a particular aspect of music is in itself ideological because it contains implications about the music's value.
- Green, Lucy (1999). "Ideology". Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture. ISBN 0631212639.
- Music has no subject beyond the combinations of notes we hear, for music speaks not only by means of sounds, it speaks nothing but sound.
- We must ask whether a cross-cultural musical universal is to be found in the music itself (either its structure or function) or the way in which music is made. By 'music-making,' I intend not only actual performance but also how music is heard, understood, even learned.
- Dane Harwood (1976:522). "Universals in Music: A Perspective from Cognitive Psychology", Ethnomusicology 20, no. 3:521-33.
- The human attitude of which classical music is the expression is always the same; it is always based on the same kind of insight into life and strives for the same kind of victory over blind change. Classical music as gesture signifies knowledge of the tragedy of the human condition, affirmation of human destiny, courage, cheerful serenity.
- We consider classical music to be the epitome and quintessence of our culture, because it is that culture’s clearest, most significant gesture and expression. In this music we possess the heritage of classical antiquity and Christianity, a spirit of serenely cheerful and brave piety, a superbly chivalric morality. For in the final analysis every important cultural gesture comes down to a morality, a model for human behavior concentrated into a gesture.
- A chord is by no means an agglomeration of intervals. It is a new unit which, although dependent on the formative power of the single interval, is felt as being self-existent and as giving to the constituent intervals meanings and functions which they otherwise would not have.
- Paul Hindemith (1952: 72). A Composer's World. Cambridge, Mass.
- Elected Silence, sing to me
- And beat upon my whorlèd ear,
- Pipe me to pastures still and be
- The music that I care to hear.
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The Habit of Perfection"
- We can no longer maintain any distinction between music and discourse about music, between the supposed object of analysis and the terms of analysis.
- Bruce Horner (1999). "Discourse". Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture. ISBN 0631212639.
- Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
- Love is the only bow on Life's dark cloud. It is the morning and the evening star. It shines upon the babe, and sheds its radiance on the quiet tomb. It is the mother of art, inspirer of poet, patriot and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart — builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth. It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody — for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to Joy, and makes royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart, and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven, and we are gods.
- Robert G. Ingersoll, Orthodoxy (1884).
- Itaque sine Musica nulla disciplina potest esse perfecta, nihil enim sine illa. Nam et ipse mundus quadam harmonia sonorum fertur esse conpositus, et coelum ipsud sub harmoniae modulatione revolvi.
- And without music there can be no perfect knowledge, for there is nothing without it. For even the universe itself is said to have been put together with a certain harmony of sounds, and the very heavens revolve under the guidance of harmony.
- Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae Bk. 3, ch. 17, sect. 1; p. 137. Translations and page-numbers are taken from Ernest Brehaut An Encyclopedist of the Dark Ages: Isidore of Seville (New York: B. Franklin,  1964). Bk. 3, ch. 17, sect. 1; p. 137.
- And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth.
- Our study adds relatively little to the volumes that have been written about the digital transition in the music industry - often held up as the "canary in the coal mine" for other media markets. We share the increasingly consensual view that the situation is better understood as a crisis of the high-margin CD business-and of the "big four" record labels (EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, the Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group), which have relied nearly exclusively on it for their profits - rather than a crisis of the music business in general. The decline in this side of the business had, without doubt, been precipitious (see figure 1.3). According to the IFPI, global recorded music sales dropped from $33.7 bilion in 001 to $18.4 bilion in 2008 - almost entirely attributable to the decine of CD sales. In the United States, CD sales fell from $7 bilion in 2004 to $3.1 billin in 2008 - a stuation somewhat mitigated by the rise in digital sales from zero to $1.8 billion in that period. Recorded music sales in most other countries have been in similar free fall. Between 2004 and 2008, Brazilian recorded music sales shrank from $399 million to $179 million; Russian sales dropped from $352 million to $221 million; sales in Mexico from $ 237 million to $145 million. In South Africa, considered a bright spot in international sales, sales grew through 2007 - peaking at $129 million before falling to $199 million in 2008.
- Joe Karaganis, "Media Piracy in Emerging Economies", (2011), p. 41.
- The CD's sharp decline in the United States has been offset by the growth in digital sales and concert revenues: the latter more than tripled, from $1.3 billion in 1998 to $4.2 billion in 2008. Such numbers point to a shift from a high-margin industry dominated by CD sales, the album format, and the big four labels to a lower-margin business with more emphasis on performance and related rights. They do not, in our view, point to an existential threat to the music business, much less to music culture.
Developing countries share in these trends including the fall in CD sales and the growth of the live-performance market. But the structure of the global marketplace also creates important points of divergence. In broad terms, this structure is relatively simple, marked by (1) the near complete dominance of the big four labels in most developing markets - some 84% of the market in Brazil, 82% in Mexico, and 78% in South Africa, for example, (2) the concentration of 80% - 85% of revenues in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and Canada, and (3) the absence, in most developing countries, of strong domestic competitors capable of building viable alternative distribution strategies, such as Apple and other digital distributors are doing in the United States.
In practice, these factors reinforce the high-price, very-small-market dynamic visible in most developing countries. They create a context in which the big four labels have every incentive to protect high-income markets but little incentive to change their pricing strategies in low - and middle-income markets. Compared to high-value markets like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, the emerging markets are simply inconsequential. Price cuts to expand the market in Brazil, South Africa, or Mexio would have a very limited upside in this context and a potentially serious downside if they began to undermine pricing conventions in the high-income markets. The major's evaluation of this tradeoff is clear: none have significantly lowered prices in emerging markets.
- Joe Karaganis, "Media Piracy in Emerging Economies", (2011), p. 43
- Recent IIPA reports cite rates of music piracy in excess of 90% in China, India, Mexico, and Brazil. Less and less of this traffic takes place on the street, as physical piracy shifts toward the narrower stock and higher margins of DVDs.
- Joe Karaganis, "Media Piracy in Emerging Economies", (2011), p. 44
- The limit case, in our studies, is Bolivia, where the impasse of high prices, low incomes, and ubiquitous piracy shuttered all but one local label in the early 2000s and drove the majors out altogether. The tiny Bolivian legal market, worth only $20 million at its peak, was destroyed. But Bolivian music culture was not. Below the depleted high-end commercial landscape our work documents the emergence of a generation of new producers, artists, and commercial practices much of it rooted in indigenous communities and distributed through informal markets. The resulting mix of pirated goods, promotional CDs and low-priced recordings has created, for the first time in that country, a popular market for recorded music. For the vast majority of Bolivians, recorded music has never been so prolific or affordable.
- Joe Karaganis, "Media Piracy in Emerging Economies", (2011), p.44.
- Music is the Language of Love.
- Eyran Katsenelenbogen, One Time (2016)
- Improvise like a composer; compose like an improviser.
- Eyran Katsenelenbogen, One Time (2018)
- Musical virtuosity is not the ability to play something fast, but to learn it slowly.
- Eyran Katsenelenbogen, One Time (2018)
- Language addresses itself to the ear. No other medium does this. The ear is the most spiritually determined of the senses. That I believe most men will admit. Aside from language, music is the only medium that addresses itself to the ear. Herein is again an analogy and a testimony concerning the sense in which music is a language. … Language has time as its element; all other media have space as their element. Music is the only other one that takes place in time. … Music exists only in the moment of its performance, for if one were ever so skillful in reading notes and had ever so lively an imagination, it cannot be denied that it is only in an unreal sense that music exists when it is read. It really exists only being performed. This might seem to be an imperfection in this art as compared with the others whose productions remain, because they have their existence in the sensuous. Yet this is not so. It is rather a proof of the fact that music is a higher, or more spiritual art.
- Søren Kierkegaard Either/Or Part I, Swenson p. 66-67.
- But music moves us, and we know not why;
We feel the tears, but cannot trace their source.
Is it the language of some other state,
Born of its memory ? For what can wake
The soul's strong instinct of another world,
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon Erinna, The Golden Violet (1827)
- We would liken music to Aladdin’s lamp — worthless in itself, not so for the spirits which obey its call. We love it for the buried hopes, the garnered memories, the tender feelings, it can summon with a touch.
- Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better
- The story of your brain on music is the story of an exquisite orchestration of brain regions, involving both the oldest and newest parts of the human brain, and regions as far apart as the cerebellum in the back of the head and the frontal lobes just behind your eyes. It involves a precision choreography... between logical prediction systems and emotional reward systems. ...it reminds us of other music we have heard, and it activates memory traces of emotional times of our lives. Your brain on music is all about... connections.
- Daniel Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music (2006)
- So much of the research on musical expertise has looked for accomplishment in the wrong place, in the facility of the fingers rather than the expressiveness of emotion.
- Daniel Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music (2006)
- Music, or any art form... has to strike the right balance between simplicity and complexity.
- Daniel Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music (2006)
- We're blues people. And blues never lets tragedy have the last word.
- Wynton Marsalis in Smithsonian Magazine, November 2005.
- Music is reflection of self, we just explain it, and then we get our checks in the mail.
- Most people have music in the center of their lives. I believe my work sheds light on how music affects us and why it is so influential.
- Susan McClary, quoted in Sullivan, Meg (May 2002). Spotlight: Susan McClary, Musicologist.
- Of what use is musical knowledge? Here is one idea. Each child spends endless days in curious ways; we call this play. A child stacks and packs all kinds of blocks and boxes, lines them up, and knocks them down. … Clearly, the child is learning about space! ... how on earth does one learn about time? Can one time fit inside another? Can two of them go side by side? In music, we find out!
- Listening to music engages the previously acquired personal knowledge of the listener.
- Marvin Minsky, "Music, Mind, and Meaning" ibid.
- We must see that music theory is not only about music, but about how people process it. To understand any art, we must look below its surface into the psychological details of its creation and absorption.
- Marvin Minsky, "Music, Mind, and Meaning" ibid.
- Music makes things in our minds, but afterward most of them fade away. What remains? ...perhaps what we learn is not the music itself but a way of hearing it.
- Marvin Minsky, "Music, Mind, and Meaning" ibid.
- All aspects of musical practice may be disengaged, and privileged, in order to give birth to new forms of variation: variations on the relationships between the composer and the performer, between the conductor and the performer, between the performers, between the performer and the listener, variations upon gestures, variations on silence that end in a mute music that is still music because it preserves still something of the musical totality of the tradition...all elements belonging to the total musical fact may be separated and taken as a strategic variable of musical production. This autonomization serves as true musical experimentation: little by little, the individual variables that make up a total musical fact are brought to light. Any particular music then appears as one that has made a choice among these variables, and that has privileged a certain number of them. Under these conditions, musical analysis would have to begin by recognizing the strategic variables characteristic of a given musical system: musical invention and musical analysis lend each other mutual aid.
- Being in a band is really great when you're 20. When you're 30, it's kind of 'Spinal Tap,' and when you're 40, it's just pathetic.
- If we compel the composer to write in terms of what the listener is able to hear, we flirt with the danger of freezing the evolution of musical language, whose progressive development comes about through transgressions of a given era's perceptual habits."
- Without music, life would be a mistake.
- The main thing is not to lose your identity and to continue working ... You have a quartet. That is such joy! You can forget everything else in the world. I'm playing a lot of chamber music these days. Tomorrow we were going to give the first performance of two trios, but because of the mourning, all concerts have been canceled.
- The talk about the poets seems to me like a commonplace entertainment to which a vulgar company have recourse; who, because they are not able to converse or amuse one another, while they are drinking, with the sound of their own voices and conversation, by reason of their stupidity, raise the price of flute-girls in the market, hiring for a great sum the voice of a flute instead of their own breath, to be the medium of intercourse among them: but where the company are real gentlemen and men of education, you will see no flute-girls, nor dancing-girls, nor harp-girls; and they have no nonsense or games, but are contented with one another’s conversation, of which their own voices are the medium, and which they carry on by turns and in an orderly manner, even though they are very liberal in their potations. And a company like this of ours, and men such as we profess to be, do not require the help of another’s voice, or of the poets whom you cannot interrogate about the meaning of what they are saying; people who cite them declaring, some that the poet has one meaning, and others that he has another, and the point which is in dispute can never be decided. This sort of entertainment they decline, and prefer to talk with one another, and put one another to the proof in conversation. And these are the models which I desire that you and I should imitate. Leaving the poets, and keeping to ourselves, let us try the mettle of one another and make proof of the truth in conversation.
- Plato, Protagoras in Protagoras 347c, Benjamin Jowett, trans
- Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul; on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful.
- Plato, The Republic, Book 3
- In this day and time you can't even get sick; you are strung-out! Well by God, I'll tell you something, friend: I have never been strung-out in my life, except on music!
- As a society built upon the very ideals of ecumenicalism and catholicity, as the leading technological and industrial nation of our time, and as the principal nexus between European high art and the musics of other classes and cultures, America stands at the forefront of the music of tomorrow.
- Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic far beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!
- Composers have different ways of getting their message out. So, when my teacher told me not to be a snob, this is what he did that put me right in my place. I mean, man, I was such a jazz snob, and he said to me, when I cracked on him about "Sugar, Sugar", he said, "Let me tell you something little brother, any song that makes it into the Top 40 is a great composition." And I said, "Why would you call it a great composition?", Ted. And he said, "Because it speaks to the souls of a million strangers." I was like, "Whoo!" I was like "Pap, smack little kid, now go sit down, and write 'Do-do-do-do' -- punk. Huh huh. Go sit down and write that." I did...
- I might as well endeavour to perswade, that the Sun is a glorious, and beneficial Planet; as take pains to Illustrate Musick with my imperfect praises; for every reasonable Mans own mind will be its Advocate. Musick, belov'd of Heaven, for it is the business of Angels; Desired on Earth as the most charming Pleasure of Men. The world contains nothing that is good, but what is full of Harmonious Concord, nor nothing that is evil, but is its opposite, as being the ill favour'd production of Discord and Disorder. I dare affirm, those that love not Musick (if there be any such) are Dissenters from Ingenuity, and Rebels to the Monarchy of Reason.
- Humphrey Salter (1683). The Genteel Companion.
- Music is essentially useless, as life is.
- George Santayana, Life of Reason (1905) vol. 4, ch. 4
- The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation (1819) Vol. I, Ch. II.
- This art is music. It stands quite apart from all the others. In it we do not recognize the copy, the repetition, of any Idea of the inner nature of the world. Yet it is such a great and exceedingly fine art, its effect on man's innermost nature is so powerful, and it is so completely and profoundly understood by him in his innermost being as an entirely universal language, whose distinctness surpasses even that of the world of perception itself, that in it we certainly have to look for more than that exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi [exercise in arithmetic in which the mind does not know it is counting] which Leibniz took it to be.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, The World As Representation: Second Aspect, Vol. I, Ch. III as translated by Eric F. J. Payne (1958).
- The term 'chromatic' is understood by musicians to refer to music which includes tones which are not members of the prevailing scale, and also as a word descriptive of those individually non-diatonic tones.
- J. Shir-Cliff (1965). Chromatic Harmony. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 0029286301.
- If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken and so die.
- We give our souls to our music. We put our lives on the fucking wax and the labels treat us like shit.
- Earl Simmons, on the Backstreet Boys and label problems, as quoted in XXL Magazine.
- Sometimes even in the habitual course of life, the reality of this world disappears all at once, and we feel ourselves in the middle of its interests as we should at a ball, where we did not hear the music; the dancing that we saw there would appear insane.
- Germaine de Staël, De l'Allemagne (1813) Information gathered from the Quote Investigator.
- [S]o far as music ever had a "meaning" beyond the immediate and exquisite value of the sound-pattern itself, its "meaning" must be simply an emotional attitude. It could never speak directly about the objective world, or "the nature of existence"; but it might create a complex emotional attitude which might be appropriate to some feature of the objective world, or to the universe as a whole.
- It was music, more than anything else, that led the Pythagoreans to believe that the universe is a harmonious place governed by numbers.
- Ian Stewart, Another Fine Math You’ve Got Me Into (1992) p. 236
- I was ... attacked for being a pasticheur, chided for composing “simple” music, blamed for deserting “modernism,” accused of renouncing my “true Russian heritage.” People who had never heard of, or cared about, the originals cried “sacrilege”: “The classics are ours. Leave the classics alone.” To them all my answer was and is the same: You “respect,” but I love.
- Igor Stravinsky, Expositions and Developments (1959), pp. 113-114
- The day you open your mind to music, you're halfway to opening your mind to life.
- Pete Townshend of the Who, Pop Chronicles, Show 23 - Smack Dab in the Middle on Route 66. Part 2, interview recorded in London 2.5.1968 
- Our musical alphabet is poor and illogical. Music, which should pulsate with life, needs new means of expression, and science alone can infuse it with youthful vigor. Why, Italian Futurists, have you slavishly reproduced only what is commonplace and boring in the bustle of our daily lives. I dream of instruments obedient to my thought and which with their contribution of a whole new world of unsuspected sounds, will lend themselves to the exigencies of my inner rhythm.
- Steven Pinker … advances interesting ideas about understanding human mind in terms of “reverse engineering”: we see that adaptations to our environment have been achieved, and define our task as explaining the means by which these have come about. … But Pinker finds music making—universal in all cultures—to be anomalous. Which means there must be something basically wrong or missing in his view. James could have told him what it is: To miss the joy is to miss all. … The fusion of reality and ideal novelty excites and empowers us, and does so because we are organisms which, to be vital, must celebrate our being.
- Bruce Wilshire, Fashionable Nihilism (2002), p. 34
- Die Menschen heute glauben, die Wissenschaftler seien da, sie zu belehren, die Dichter und Musiker, etc., sie zu erfreuen. Daß diese sie etwas zu lehren haben; kommt ihnen nicht in den Sinn.
- People nowadays think that scientists exist to instruct them, poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them—that does not occur to them.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value (1980), p. 36
- One day I said to myself that it would be better to get rid of all that—melody, rhythm, harmony, etc. This was not a negative thought and did not mean that it was necessary to avoid them, but rather that, while doing something else, they would appear spontaneously. We had to liberate ourselves from the direct and peremptory consequence of intention and effect, because the intention would always be our own and would be circumscribed, when so many other forces are evidently in action in the final effect.
- Books! ‘tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland Linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
And hark! how blithe the Throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
- William Wordsworth, “The Tables Turned; An Evening Scene, On the Same Subject”
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 535-41.
- Music religious heat inspires,
It wakes the soul, and lifts it high,
And wings it with sublime desires,
And fits it to bespeak the Deity.
- Joseph Addison, A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, Stanza 4.
- Music exalts each joy, allays each grief,
Expels diseases, softens every pain,
Subdues the rage of poison, and the plague.
- John Armstrong, The Art of Preserving Health (1744), Book IV, line 512.
- That rich celestial music thrilled the air
From hosts on hosts of shining ones, who thronged
Eastward and westward, making bright the night.
- Edwin Arnold, Light of Asia (1879), Book IV, line 418.
- Music tells no truths.
- Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene A Village Feast.
- Rugged the breast that music cannot tame.
- J. C. Bampfylde, Sonnet.
- If music and sweet poetry agree.
- Richard Barnfield, Sonnet.
- Gayly the troubadour
Touched his guitar.
- Thomas Haynes Bayly, Welcome Me Home.
- I'm saddest when I sing.
- Thomas Haynes Bayly, You think I have a merry heart.
- God is its author, and not man; he laid
The key-note of all harmonies; he planned
All perfect combinations, and he made
Us so that we could hear and understand.
- John Gardiner Calkins Brainard, Music.
- The rustle of the leaves in summer's hush
When wandering breezes touch them, and the sigh
That filters through the forest, or the gush
That swells and sinks amid the branches high,—
'Tis all the music of the wind, and we
Let fancy float on this æolian breath.
- John Gardiner Calkins Brainard, Music.
- "Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast,"
And therefore proper at a sheriff's feast.
- James Bramston, Man of Taste, first line quoted from Prior.
- And sure there is music even in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument; for there is music wherever there is harmony, order, or proportion; and thus far we may maintain the music of the spheres.
- Yet half the beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh, as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man.
The true gods sigh for the cost and the pain—
For the reed that grows never more again
As a reed with the reeds of the river.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, A Musical Instrument.
- Her voice, the music of the spheres,
So loud, it deafens mortals' ears;
As wise philosophers have thought,
And that's the cause we hear it not.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II (1664), Canto I, line 617.
- For discords make the sweetest airs.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part III (1678), Canto I, line 919.
- Soprano, basso, even the contra-alto
Wished him five fathom under the Rialto.
- Lord Byron, Beppo (1818), Stanza 32.
- Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell.
- There's music in the sighing of a reed;
There's music in the gushing of a rill;
There's music in all things, if men had ears:
Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.
- And hears thy stormy music in the drum!
- Thomas Campbell, Pleasures of Hope, Part I.
- Merrily sang the monks in Ely
When Cnut, King, rowed thereby;
Row, my knights, near the land,
And hear we these monkes' song.
- Attributed to King Canute, Song of the Monks of Ely, in Spens, History of the English People, Historia Eliensis (1066). Chambers' Encyclopedia of English Literature.
- Music is well said to be the speech of angels.
- Thomas Carlyle, Essays, The Opera.
- When music, heavenly maid, was young,
While yet in early Greece she sung,
The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
Throng'd around her magic cell.
- William Collins, The Passions, an Ode for Music (1747), line 1.
- In notes by distance made more sweet.
- William Collins, The Passions, an Ode for Music (1747), line 60.
- In hollow murmurs died away.
- William Collins, The Passions, an Ode for Music (1747), line 68.
- Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
I've read that things inanimate have moved,
And, as with living souls, have been inform'd,
By magic numbers and persuasive sound.
- William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, Act I, scene 1.
- And when the music goes te-toot,
The monkey acts so funny
That we all hurry up and scoot
To get some monkey-money.
M-double-unk for the monkey,
M-double-an for the man;
M-double unky, hunky monkey,
Ever since the world began
Children danced and children ran
When they heard the monkey-man,
The m-double-unky man.
- w:Edmund Vance CookeEdmund Vance Cooke, The Monkey-Man, I rule the House.
- Water and air He for the Tenor chose,
Earth made the Base, the Treble Flame arose,
To th' active Moon a quick brisk stroke he gave,
To Saturn's string a touch more soft and grave.
The motions strait, and round, and swift, and slow,
And short and long, were mixt and woven so,
Did in such artful Figures smoothly fall,
As made this decent measur'd Dance of all.
And this is Musick.
- Abraham Cowley, Davideis (1668), Book I, p. 13.
- With melting airs, or martial, brisk, or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies.
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book VI. Winter Walk at Noon, line 3.
- The soft complaining flute
In dying notes discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute.
- John Dryden, A Song for St. Cecilia's Day.
- Music sweeps by me as a messenger
Carrying a message that is not for me.
- George Eliot, Spanish Gypsy (1868), Book III.
- 'Tis God gives skill,
But not without men's hands: He could not make
Antonio Stradivari's violins
- George Eliot, Stradivarius, line 151.
- The silent organ loudest chants
The master's requiem.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Dirge.
- Our 'prentice, Tom, may now refuse
To wipe his scoundrel master's shoes;
For now he's free to sing and play
Over the hills and far away.
- George Farquhar, Over the Hills and Far Away, Act II, scene 3.
- But Bellenden we needs must praise,
Who as down the stairs she jumps
Sings o'er the hill and far away,
Despising doleful dumps.
- Distracted Jockey's Lamentation, Pills to Purge Melancholy.
- Tom he was a piper's son,
He learned to play when he was young;
But all the tune that he could play
Was "Over the hills and far away."
- Distracted Jockey's Lamentation, Pills to Purge Melancholy found in The Nursery Rhymes of England by Halliwell Phillips.
- When I was young and had no sense
I bought a fiddle for eighteen pence,
And all the tunes that I could play
Was, "Over the Hills and Far Away."
- Old Ballad, in the Pedlar's Pack of Ballads and Songs.
- Blasen ist nicht flöten, ihr müsst die Finger bewegen.
- To blow is not to play on the flute; you must move the fingers.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Sprüche in Prosa, III.
- Jack Whaley had a cow,
And he had nought to feed her;
He took his pipe and played a tune,
And bid the cow consider.
- Old Scotch and North of Ireland ballad. Lady Granville uses it in a letter. (1836).
- Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
- Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Church Yard, Stanza 10.
- He stood beside a cottage lone,
And listened to a lute,
One summer's eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute.
- Thomas Hervey, The Devil's Progress.
- Why should the devil have all the good tunes?
- Rowland Hill, Sermons. In his biography by E. W. Broome, p. 93.
- Music was a thing of the soul—a rose-lipped shell that murmured of the eternal sea—a strange bird singing the songs of another shore.
- Josiah Gilbert Holland, Plain Talks on Familiar Subjects, Art and Life.
- From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathéd horn.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Chambered Nautilus.
Ridetur chorda qui semper oberrat eadem.
- The musician who always makes a mistake on the same string, is laughed at.
- Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 355.
- Play uppe, play uppe, O Boston bells!
Ply all your changes, all your swells,
Play uppe "The Brides of Enderby."
- Jean Ingelow, High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire.
- When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.
- Job, XXXVIII. 7.
- Ere music's golden tongue
Flattered to tears this aged man and poor.
- John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes, Stanza 3.
- The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide.
- John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes, Stanza 4.
- Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone.
- John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn.
- I even think that, sentimentally, I am disposed to harmony. But organically I am incapable of a tune.
- Charles Lamb, A Chapter on Ears.
- A velvet flute-note fell down pleasantly,
Upon the bosom of that harmony,
And sailed and sailed incessantly,
As if a petal from a wild-rose blown
Had fluttered down upon that pool of tone,
And boatwise dropped o' the convex side
And floated down the glassy tide
And clarified and glorified
The solemn spaces where the shadows bide.
From the warm concave of that fluted note
Somewhat, half song, half odour forth did float
As if a rose might somehow be a throat.
- Sidney Lanier, The Symphony.
- Music is in all growing things;
And underneath the silky wings
Of smallest insects there is stirred
A pulse of air that must be heard;
Earth's silence lives, and throbs, and sings.
- Lathrop, Music of Growth.
- Writ in the climate of heaven, in the language spoken by angels.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Children of the Lord's Supper, line 262.
- Yea, music is the Prophet's art
Among the gifts that God hath sent,
One of the most magnificent!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christus, Part III. Second Interlude, Stanza 5.
- When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (1847), Part I. 1.
- He is dead, the sweet musician!
* * * *
He has moved a little nearer
To the Master of all music.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha (1855), Part XV, line 56.
- Music is the universal language of mankind.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-Mer. Ancient Spanish Ballads.
- Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day is Done, Stanza 8.
- Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie.
- John Milton, Arcades, line 68.
- Who shall silence all the airs and madrigals that whisper softness in chambers?
- Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould
Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment?
- Ring out ye crystal spheres!
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the base of Heaven's deep organ blow,
And with your ninefold harmony,
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.
- John Milton, Hymn on the Nativity, Stanza 13.
- There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full voiced quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all heaven before mine eyes.
- John Milton, Il Penseroso (1631), line 161.
- Untwisting all the chains that tie the hidden soul of harmony.
- John Milton, L'Allegro, line 143.
- As in an organ from one blast of wind
To many a row of pipes the soundboard breathes.
- And in their motions harmony divine
So smoothes her charming tones, that God's own ear
- Mettez, pour me jouer, vos flûtes mieux d'accord.
- If you want to play a trick on me, put your flutes more in accord.
- Molière, L'Etourdi, Act I. 4.
- La musique celeste.
- The music of the spheres.
- Montaigne, Book I, Chapter XXII.
- If the pulse of the patriot, soldier, or lover,
Have throbb'd at our lay, 'tis thy glory alone;
I was but as the wind, passing heedlessly over,
And all the wild sweetness I wak'd was thy own.
- Thomas Moore, Dear Harp of My Country, Stanza 2.
- "This must be music," said he, "of the spears,
For I am cursed if each note of it doesn't run through one!"
- Thomas Moore, Fudge Family in Paris, Letter V, line 28.
- The harp that once through Tara's halls
The soul of music shed,
Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls,
As if that soul were fled.
- Thomas Moore, Harp That Once.
- If thou would'st have me sing and play
As once I play'd and sung,
First take this time-worn lute away,
And bring one freshly strung.
- Thomas Moore, If Thou, Would'st Have Me Sing and Play.
- And music too—dear music! that can touch
Beyond all else the soul that loves it much—
Now heard far off, so far as but to seem
Like the faint, exquisite music of a dream.
- Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh (1817), The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan.
- 'Tis believ'd that this harp which I wake now for thee
Was a siren of old who sung under the sea.
- Thomas Moore, Origin of the Harp.
- She played upon her music-box a fancy air by chance,
And straightway all her polka-dots began a lively dance.
- Peter Newell, Her Polka Dots.
- Apes and ivory, skulls and roses, in junks of old Hong-Kong,
Gliding over a sea of dreams to a haunted shore of song.
- Alfred Noyes, Apes and Ivory.
- There's a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street
In the city as the sun sinks low;
And the music's not immortal; but the world has made it sweet
And fulfilled it with the sunset glow.
- Alfred Noyes, Barrel Organ.
- Wagner's music is better than it sounds.
- We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Of whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
- Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Music Makers.
- One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample a kingdom down.
- Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Music Makers.
- How light the touches are that kiss
The music from the chords of life!
- Coventry Patmore, By the Sea.
- He touched his harp, and nations heard, entranced,
As some vast river of unfailing source,
Rapid, exhaustless, deep, his numbers flowed,
And opened new fountains in the human heart.
- Robert Pollok, The Course of Time (1827), Book IV, line 674.
- Music resembles poetry: in each
Are nameless graces which no methods teach
And which a master-hand alone can reach.
- As some to Church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
- What woful stuff this madrigal would be
In some starv'd hackney sonnetteer, or me!
But let a Lord once own the happy lines,
How the wit brightens! how the style refines!
- Light quirks of music, broken and uneven,
Make the soul dance upon a jig to Heav'n.
- Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle IV, line 143.
- By music minds an equal temper know,
Nor swell too high, nor sink too low.
* * * * *
Warriors she fires with animated sounds;
Pours balm into the bleeding lover's wounds.
- Alexander Pope, Ode on St. Cecilia's Day.
- Hark! the numbers soft and clear,
Gently steal upon the ear;
Now louder, and yet louder rise
And fill with spreading sounds the skies.
- Alexander Pope, Ode on St. Cecilia's Day.
- In a sadly pleasing strain
Let the warbling lute complain.
- Alexander Pope, Ode on St. Cecilia's Day.
- Music's force can tame the furious beast.
- Seated one day at the organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.
I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then,
But I struck one chord of music
Like the sound of a great Amen.
- Adelaide Anne Procter, Lost Chord. (As set to music, 5th line reads, "I know not what I was playing.").
- We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
- Psalms. CXXXVII. 2.
- Above the pitch, out of tune, and off the hinges.
- François Rabelais, Works, Book IV, Chapter XIX.
- Musik ist Poesie der Luft.
- Music is the poetry of the air.
- Jean Paul Richter.
- Sie zog tief in sein Herz, wie die Melodie eines Liedes, die aus der Kindheit heraufklingt.
- It sank deep into his heart, like the melody of a song sounding from out of childhood's days.
- Jean Paul Richter, Hesperus, XII.
- The soul of music slumbers in the shell,
Till waked and kindled by the Master's spell;
And feeling hearts—touch them but lightly—pour
A thousand melodies unheard before!
- Samuel Rogers, Human Life, line 363.
- Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
- I am advised to give her music o' mornings; they say it will penetrate.
- And it will discourse most eloquent music.
- You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass.
- How irksome is this music to my heart!
When such strings jar, what hope of harmony?
- Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain-tops that freeze,
Bow themselves, when he did sing:
To his music, plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers,
There had made a lasting spring.
- Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by;
In sweet music is such art:
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or, hearing, die.
- The choir,
With all the choicest music of the kingdom,
Together sung Te Deum.
- One whom the music of his own vain tongue
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony.
- Though music oft hath such a charm
To make bad good, and good provoke to harm.
- Let music sound while he doth make his choice;
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
Fading in music.
- How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness, and the night
Becomes the touches of sweet harmony.
- There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
- Therefore the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods;
Since nought so stockish, hard and full of rage,
But music for the time doth change his nature.
- The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.
- Music do I hear?
Ha! ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!
- Wilt thou have music? hark! Apollo plays
And twenty caged nightingales do sing.
- Preposterous ass, that never read so far
To know the cause why music was ordain'd!
Was it not to refresh the mind of man,
After his studies or his usual pain?
- This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air.
- Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows!
- If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour.
- Song like a rose should be;
Each rhyme a petal sweet;
For fragrance, melody,
That when her lips repeat
The words, her heart may know
What secret makes them so.
Love, only Love.
- Frank Dempster Sherman, Song, in Lyrics for a Lute.
- Musick! soft charm of heav'n and earth,
Whence didst thou borrow thy auspicious birth?
Or art thou of eternal date,
Sire to thyself, thyself as old as Fate.
- Edmund Smith, Ode in Praise of Musick.
- See to their desks Apollo's sons repair,
Swift rides the rosin o'er the horse's hair!
In unison their various tones to tune,
Murmurs the hautboy, growls the hoarse bassoon;
In soft vibration sighs the whispering lute,
Tang goes the harpsichord, too-too the flute,
Brays the loud trumpet, squeaks the fiddle sharp,
Winds the French-horn, and twangs the tingling harp;
Till, like great Jove, the leader, figuring in,
Attunes to order the chaotic din.
- Horace and James Smith, Rejected Addresses, The Theatre, line 20.
- So dischord ofte in musick makes the sweeter lay.
- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book III, Canto II, Stanza 15.
- Music revives the recollections it would appease.
- Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, Corinne (1807), Book IX, Chapter II.
- The gauger walked with willing foot,
And aye the gauger played the flute;
And what should Master Gauger play
But Over the Hills and Far Away.
- Robert Louis Stevenson, Underwoods, A Song of the Road.
- How her fingers went when they moved by note
Through measures fine, as she marched them o'er
The yielding plank of the ivory floor.
- Benjamin F. Taylor, Songs of Yesterday, How the Brook Went to Mill, Stanza 3.
- It is the little rift within the lute
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
- Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
- Alfred Tennyson, The Lotos Eaters, Choric Song, Stanza 1.
- Music that gentlier on the spirit lies
Than tir'd eyelids upon tir'd eyes.
- Alfred Tennyson, The Lotos Eaters, Choric Song, Stanza 1.
- I can't sing. As a singist I am not a success. I am saddest when I sing. So are those who hear me. They are sadder even than I am.
- Artemus Ward, Lecture.
- Strange! that a harp of thousand strings
Should keep in tune so long.
- Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II. 19.
- And with a secret pain,
And smiles that seem akin to tears,
We hear the wild refrain.
- John Greenleaf Whittier, At Port Royal.
- I'm the sweetest sound in orchestra heard
Yet in orchestra never have been.
- William Wilberforce, Riddle, first lines.
- Her ivory hands on the ivory keys
Strayed in a fitful fantasy,
Like the silver gleam when the poplar trees
Rustle their pale leaves listlessly
Or the drifting foam of a restless sea
When the waves show their teeth in the flying breeze.
- Oscar Wilde, In the Gold Room, A Harmony.
- What fairy-like music steals over the sea,
Entrancing our senses with charmed melody?
- Mrs. M. C. Wilson, What Fairy-like Music.
- Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand!
- Stevie Wonder, "Sir Duke"
- Where music dwells
Lingering, and wandering on as loth to die:
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality.
- William Wordsworth, Ecclesiastical Sonnets, Part III. 63. Inside of King's Chapel, Cambridge.
- Bright gem instinct with music, vocal spark.
- William Wordsworth, A Morning Exercise.
- Soft is the music that would charm forever:
The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.
- William Wordsworth, Not Love, Not War.
- Sweetest melodies
Are those that are by distance made more sweet.
- William Wordsworth, Personal Talk, Stanza 2.
- The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
- William Wordsworth, The Solitary Reaper.
- Thank you. If you appreciate the tuning so much, I hope you'll enjoy the playing more.
- Ravi Shankar tuning up before his performance on Sitar, Soundbite of "The Concert For Bangladesh"