Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking

By Vera John-Steiner | Go to book overview

6
The Languages of Emotion

Music

In examining the nature of creative thought, many psychologists and psychiatrists have chosen music as their focus. One such analysis is provided by Albert Rothenberg, whose description of the ways in which composers contrast tonal and rhythmical elements exemplifies his Janusian (or oppositional) view of creativity. 1 A reliance upon the concepts of generative grammar characterizes Leonard Bernstein's approach to composition, described in his Norton lectures at Harvard University. In these lectures, entitled The Unanswered Question, Bernstein examined the various levels of music-- elements, strings, deep and surface structures--and how they combine into "idioms [that] can all merge into a speech universal enough to be accessible to all mankind." 2 The subject of a musical grammar also engaged the psycholinguist Ray Jackendorff, who was interested in the roles of musical groupings and metrical structures in examining "what the listener hears." 3

Are all human beings equally sensitive to the musical experience? Or are there differences in the analytical and representational resources brought to music based on exposure and expertise? These are questions that have interested neuroscientists. In their studies of hemispheric specialization, they have found that professional musicians process sounds in both their right and left hemispheres, while those less sophisticated in this domain rely only upon their right hemisphere. 4

A somewhat different question is asked by Howard Gardner, a student of creativity and cognition. He has challenged the usual concept of intelligence and argued instead for the existence of core abilities in Frames of Mind. He considered music to be one of these abilities, de

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Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction to the Revised Edition xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Sources of Thought 11
  • 1 - The Beginnings 13
  • 2 - Apprenticeships 37
  • 3 - The Invisible Tools 59
  • Part Two - The Languages of the Mind 81
  • 4 - Visual Thinking 83
  • 5 - Verbal Thinking 111
  • 6 - The Languages of Emotion 141
  • 7 - Scientific Thinking 173
  • Conclusion: the Creativity of Thinking 205
  • Appendix 1 225
  • Notes 229
  • Bibliography 245
  • Index 253
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