THE SPIRIT OF MUSIC"Art is the Manifestation of the Spiritual by means of the Material"
Music is a part of life. It is not merely an accomplishment or a hobby, nor yet a means of relaxation from the strenuous business of earning a living. It is not an addendum or anexcrescence: it is an actual part of the fabric of life itself. The object of these pages will be toshow how closely Music, and indeed Art in general, has woven itself into the pattern of our lives, and how intimately it may influence and fashion the design.The structural basis of Music is vibration. Sound comes to us in the guise of air-waves, whichimpinge upon the drum of the ear. The nerve-impulse thus aroused is conveyed to the brain,and there translated into sound. Strictly speaking there is thus no sound until the braintranslates the message, while if the machinery of the ear be too dull to answer to the vibrationthe sound simply does not exist for us. Beyond doubt the world is full of sounds that wecannot hear and of sights that we never see, for of the whole range of vibration our senses permit us to garner but the veriest fragment²a few notes here of sound, and a brief rangethere of sight, out of the whole vast scale of vibrant Nature.There are sounds which are musical, and others that are raucous and mere noise. Thedifference lies in the fact that harsh sounds are compounded of irregular vibrations, while theessence of Music is that its waves are rhythmic and follow each other in ordered swing.Rhythm is thus the primary manifestation of Music: but equally so it is the basic characteristicof everything in life. We learn that in Nature there is nothing still and inert, but thateverything is in incessant motion. There is no such thing as solid matter. The man of Scienceresolved matter into atoms, and now these atoms themselves are found to be as miniatureuniverses. Round a central sun, termed a Proton, whirl a number of electrons in rhythmicmotion and incessant swing. And these electrons and protons²what are they? Something inthe nature of charges of electricity, positive and negative. So where is now our seeming-solidmatter?When this knowledge informs our outlook we see that all that lives, moves: and even thatwhich never seems to move, lives also in continual rhythm and response. The eternal hills arevibrant to the eye of science, and the very stones are pulsing with the joy of life. Thecountryside sings, and there is the beat of rhythm not merely in our hearts but in every particleof our body. Stillness is a delusion, and immobility a fiction of the senses. Life is movementand activity, and rigidity and stiffness come more near to what we understand as death. Yeteven in death there is no stillness, there is but a change in the form of activity. The body is nolonger alive as an organised community, but in its individual cells: the activity is the livelinessof decomposition. Thus all the world expresses life, and expresses it in a rhythm in which lawand order reign supreme, and in which a sweet and sane regularity is the ordinance.Regular rhythm involves accent. Whether or no there be any such emphasis as a thing initself, the listening ear supplies it to meet a need. When we attend to a clock ticking, the tick-tock, tick-tock, however even it may sound at first, soon resolves itself into a rhythm with theaccent on either the tick or the tock. So does the beat of an engine, or the hum of a railwaytrain, merge itself into some definite sound picture, with the accent for relief that the ear