The Ear

In his seminal meditation on Renaissance and 20th Century music The Gesualdo Hex, musicologist Glenn Watkins recounts a conversation with Igor Stravinsky:

“Which of the two (heart or brain), in his opinion, did he deem more important [in music]? I will never forget his answer.

‘Neither, my dear,’ he countered with a broad smile.

The ear,’ he corrected, pointing with his index finger to a location mid-way between the two proposed options”.

Stravinsky’s declaration adds another layer to the question of the heart and brain in music. This answer brings to light the ending of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis, where it is declared: “The mediator between head and hands must be the heart”.

If rephrased in a musical context using Stravinsky’s answer: “The mediator between heart and brain must be the ear”.

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