Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The Musical Mind 
The musician, in passing judgment upon a prospective musician, 
rightly says, “Give me the child with the musical instinct.” By 
that he does not mean any one of the specific capacities we have 
discussed, but rather a fundamental urge, drive, or emotional 
dominance, craving expression in music from early childhood. This 
general trait is often feigned, fragmentary, or imaginary, but when 
genuine it constitutes the most certain indication of the presence 
of the musical mind that we have. When submitted to analysis, it is 
found to represent an effective grouping, dominance, or balance 
of fundamental sensory and motor capacities and therefore yields 
to measurement and scientific description and evaluation. 
This, in brief, is the skeletal structure I promised. In many 
respects it is but dangling and rattling dry bones. “Atomistic!” 
some of my confreres will say. Now, atoms are not roses, resplendent 
in bloom, fragrance, and configuration—living roses! The esthete, 
whiffing and raving about the beauty of the rose, can ignore the 
atom, but the botanist cannot. It is to the botanist that we look for 
a true revelation of the origin, the growth, the nature, and the role 
of roses in the economy of nature. It is the botanist who can make 
verifiable and permanent distinctions among roses. 
Fifty years ago, Wundt was asked, “What have you learned 
from the reaction experiment?” to which his whole laboratory 
force had devoted its first three years. His reply was, “It has given 
me a new conception of the human mind.” Speaking for those who 
take the scientific point of view in the psychology of music, I may 
say that experiment has given us a new conception of the musical 
personality as a whole—its infinite capacities and the intimate 
relationships among them, the marvelous range for possible train¬ 
ing, growth, and substitution, the sublimation of musical interests 
in daily life, the necessity of viewing the personality as a dynamic 
Does this point of view oversimplify the musical mind? The 
argument I have made is that it can and should vastly enrich and 
deepen the concept; if you ask one question of nature in the labora¬ 
tory, nature asks you ten, and each of these when pursued in turn 
multiplies into tens of tens of tens. For laboratory procedure is 
but the setting of conditions for more and more precise observations 
of specific, concrete, verifiable facts or features. What I have stated


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