Tag Archives: music

Noam Chomsky

One would have to do an experiment to prove it, but I would guess that if we took two children of today—let’s say two groups—and exposed one group to Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, and the other to Schoenberg, Webern and Berg, there would be a substantial difference in their capacity to comprehend and deal with such musical experience.

Noam Chomsky, ‘The Ideas of Chomsky’, in Bryan Magee (ed.), Men of Ideas: Some Creators of Contemporary Philosophy, London, 1978, p. 218

Nicolas Slonimsky

I also tried to condition Electra to dissonant music. Henry Cowell was especially fond of one anecdote, which he recounted in his lectures and seminars. The story went something like this: When Electra would scream for a bottle, I would sit down at the piano and play a Chopin nocturne, completely ignoring her request. I would allow for a pause, and then play Schoenberg’s Opus 33a, which opens with a dodecaphonic succession of three highly dissonant chords. I would then rush in to give Electra her bottle. Her features would relax, her crying would cease, and she would suck contentedly the nutritious formula. This was to establish a conditional reflex in favor of dissonant music.

Nicolas Slonimsky, Perfect Pitch: An Autobiography, New York, 2002, p. 132