There is Such a Thing As Creation

Somewhere between the notion that we know the time and date of creation and the idea that “creation” is nothing more than a convention is the truth that there is a Creator (who knows and who has made himself known) and there is a creation that testifies to the Creator. I’m listening to a 25 September 2007 broadcast of Radiolab (from WNYC) on the universality of music. It turns out that our brains are, as it were, wired to hear and react to certain sounds, pitches, and frequencies in predictable ways.

All over the world, mothers sing to their children in similar ways to produce the same responses. When Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” was first played in 1913, after the lovely opening bassoon solo, the music turned dissonant and even violent and the audience rioted! One theory is that the inability of the audience to discern order in the music stimulated too much dopamine in the brains of the listeners, which facilitated the riot. When it was played again a year later, people had been warned, and they were able to discern the order embedded in the chaos. There was no riot  and Stravinsky was hailed a hero. In 1940 the music was featured in Fantasia. One of the scientists interviewed for the program says, “We are pattern-searching animals.” Indeed.

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  1. I think the theory that the riot was primarily about the dancing is much more plausible, given that they’d come to see ballet and the dancers were all stomping around in odd time signatures. While Stravinsky’s score was a big step forward, the audience would have known Petrushka, which isn’t all that easy to listen to itself.

    But you’re absolutely right. The universe itself modulates at a very, very low Bb. There is objectivity to be had in music.

  2. After Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” was played in the humanities class I took, I really couldn’t see what caused the riot other than it was something different. It’s a neat little piece. I like the whirlwind effect it gives.

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