July 16, 2014 Peter Kivy, on the paradox of musical description July 16, 2014/ 𝄐 // Music critics may not have a patent on nonsense; but they have been mighty busy during the last two hundred years churning out more than their share of it. And the present day musician, music theorist, and musicologist feel an immense sense of relief when they can escape from this emotive flapdoodle into the healthy atmosphere of amphibrachs and enhanced dominant relationships.But as enticing as this is to the musically learned, it leaves a large and worthy musical community completely out in the cold. Music, after all, is not just for musicians and musical scholars, any more than painting is just for art historians, or poetry for poets. It seems to me both surprising and intolerable that while one can read with profit the great critics of the visual and literary arts without being a professor of English or the history of art, the musically untrained but humanistically educated seem to face a choice between descriptions of music too technical for them to understand, or else decried as nonsense by the authorities their education has taught them to respect. Either description of music can be respectable, “scientific” analysis, at the familiar cost of losing all humanistic connections; or it lapses into its familiar emotive stance at the cost of becoming, according to the musically learned, meaningless subjective maundering.The resolution of this musical paradox is not, obviously, to denigrate technical description. It has its virtues, and I am, by training and inclination, by no means blind to them. What needs doing, rather than to take cheap shots at technical language, is to make emotive description once again respectable in the eyes of the learned, so that it can stand alongside of technical description as a valid analytic tool. — Sound Sentiment: An Essay on the Musical Emotions. Including the complete text of The Corded Shell (1989), 8-9. Can we all just agree that "flapdoodle" is an awesome word that needs to appear more frequently in everyday life?