The Experimental Psychology of Beauty

By C. W. Valentine | Go to book overview

Chapter X MUSICAL INTERVALS AND ATTITUDES TO MUSIC

The whole and the parts

This chapter deals with experiments on musical intervals and with a few experiments on musical compositions especially undertaken and selected for this chapter because they deal with problems raised by the study of intervals themselves. I should like to emphasize first what I touched on briefly in the introductory chapter of this book, namely, that I fully realize the final and major problems about music relate entirely to the musical compositions as a whole, and one cannot treat the whole as though it was a mere addition of the separate parts or units. This principle was, I think, already emphasized in the very first edition of my little book on The Experimental Psychology of Beauty in 1913, and indeed, no students of G. F. Stout's Analytic Psychology would be likely to overlook the main principles of Gestalt psychology which I have mentioned in Chapter I.

Perhaps I should explain my first interest in the study of musical intervals. The first purpose was to test the appreciation of musical intervals among children; to find at what age the beginnings of the feeling for conventional consonance and dissonance arose, and perhaps to find any differences among children with different degrees of musical training.

This seemed to necessitate first a set of standard results from adults for the sake of comparison.

I may add that in the course of my experiments, several other important issues arose, first as to the distinction between consonance and pleasingness; second, as to the supposed necessary melancholy or pathos of the minor modes, and third, the adaptation of some subjects in the course of experiments, to the repeated discords

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