November 12, 2019

Years of work and effort are required before true freedom can be attained in this art [of ideograms], before it becomes an intimate and personal means of expression. The results, however, are to be included among the great aesthetic attainments of mankind. I believe it possible to argue that the failure of Asia to develop an art of music comparable to that of the west was due to the fact that in the east the need for abstract beauty found full satisfaction in writing; the same satisfaction that Europe discovered in the harmony and orchestration of sound.
Fosco Maraini, "Meeting With Japan"
A fascinating book (my copy rescued by EB from a municipal book swap shed) - it's from the late 50s where Maraini, a photographer and anthropologist from Italy, returns to Japan after being interred there during WW2. There's a lot to unpack in his stances and assumptions, but I think about this attitude about music a lot, especially when I'm trying to think about how much of the music I know is universally human, perhaps with roots in biology - like how the human nervous system itself responds to the underlying math of harmonies and rhythms - and how much is a cultural construct. I feel like I've seen a few other quotes suggesting that the level of complexity and detail in classical Western musical notation is unique, but I don't if that's deeply true or just chauvinistic rah-rah.

Something about the mood; the chords, the instrumentation, the lyrics: it's like it's tapping into the heart of every un- or semi-requited love I've ever chased after and I'm beyond misty about it.