One of the things the appealed to me about Edelman was that he was willing to abandon familiar terminology in trying to grasp the nature of mind. The words we use tend to influence our thinking; and, when we adopt words from the legacy of others, we run the risk of adopting the worldview of that legacy as well. Edelman had the courage to rethink worldview; and, even if his current round of conjectures do not survive validation, there is a lot to be said for his method.
As one might guess, the thesis Patel is trying to pursue is one of identifying one or more relationships between how mind thinks about music and how mind thinks about language. He approaches this task by examining a different aspect of music in each chapter. My reading thus far has taken me through the following topics:
- Sound elements
With all of those disclaimers, it seems necessary to dispense with "standard terminology" until we can try to fix what it is we really mean when using those terms, impeded by as little technical baggage as possible. This is the sort of thing I mean with respect to the above four topics:
- When we talk about "sound elements," we are actually talking about those basic signals that form sensory impressions, signals that only exist in the time domain.
- Thus, we are actually talking about the sensation of events; and, at a further level of time-consciousness, it is through rhythm that we recognize how sequences of events are structured.
- When we then subject those signals we associated to sound elements to sequencing structured by rhythm, we have melody.
- However, in the broader scheme of both listening to and making music, structure involves more than linear ordering. Embellishment, for example, involves some level of hierarchy (and, if we believe Heinrich Schenker, many levels). Counterpoint involves the sophisticated interplay of sequencing within voices and the harmonies that emerge when those voices are superposed. We tend to associate the noun "syntax" with such higher-level structuring; but, where music is concerned, this is a far cry from diagramming sentences.