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On Music by Theodore Gracyk

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More than Meets the Ear: Music and Art One

Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fadesPast the near meadows, over the still stream,Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deepIn the next valley-glades:Was it a vision, or a waking dream?Fled is that music—do I wake or sleep?

(John Keats, “Ode to the Nightingale”)

This book is a philosophical examination of the nature of music. More specifically, it examines puzzles generated by its status as art. Here is one of those puzzles. Our brains appear to be hard-wired for music. But when we’re hard-wired to engage in an activity—eating, sleeping, breathing—we tend to regard it as an animal response. These activities seem to be the very opposite of art. If Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue album consisted of the ...

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