Music is the art of time alone
March 19, 2018
Music is the art of time, and in it space has little role to play. This results from the basic difference between hearing and seeing.
While the physical cause for all our sensations, including sight and sound, lies in some mechanical phenomenon in space, the ‘effect’ of that cause, as experienced in our consciousness, is of a radically different nature. We cannot answer the question “what does sound like.” There is nothing about a sound wave that implies hearing.
The transmission of electro-chemical impulses in the auditory nerve is no different than what occurs in the optic nerve. Examining these transmissions gives us no clue as to what sense is being transmitted.
What would happen if, in the distant future, a surgeon took the auditory nerve’s connections into the brain and spliced them instead into the visual part of the brain. Would we see sound?
Consider a person who had been born blind, and who grew up without companions on the proverbial dessert island. If that person was suddenly granted the ability to see, and heard what we know is the sound of a bird, would she have any ability of linking the quality of that sound in her consciousness to a cause somewhere in space, in particular the thing over there in that tree with wings and a beak.
Sound, and therefore music, is quality experienced through duration in time.