An Encyclopedia of Quotations About Music
Writing about music-about what it is and what it means-is akin to describing the act of love. Somehow, the reduction of the experience to an unblushingly detailed exposition of how, where, when, and why who does what to whom, from prelude to resolu� tion, loses everything in the translation. The other extreme, the one wherein the writer, in desperation, resorts to metaphor (with or without benefit of meter and rhyme), most often results in im� agery that is banal, vulgar, inane, obscure, pretentious, and almost always insufferably romantic. To achieve good and accurate writing about music is as rare an accomplishment as expert wine-tasting, lion-taming, diamond-cut� ting, truffie-finding and (if one just happens to be an unconverted Mohican brave) deer-tracking. Only the intuitive, the pure, the sensual, and the intrepid need apply. Professional musicians often evidence a fixed tendency either to rudely ignore or else to actively despise those of us who bravely try to understand, define, and describe their art. To many composers and instrumentalists, those outsiders (nonmusicians) who have the temerity to discuss anything more abstract than the digital dexterity of a fiddler, the particular vanity of a conductor, or the wage scales for overtime recording sessions are judged worthy only of contempt or-at the most-patronizing tolerance. Music means itself, insists one of the contributors to the collection that follows, and many practitioners of the art of organ� ized sound would prefer to leave it at that.