Music by Chapter

  • Music by Chapter

    Posted by Anneloes Wolters on December 26, 2023 at 11:15 pm

    After composing music working from ‘the coincidence of opposites’, I found my music much more interesting, contrasting and diverse. To understand better what it means to work from Iains suggested philosophy, I decided for the coming year to read the books chapter by chapter (again for most chapters) and comment on them from the perspective of a composer. I will use this platform to contemplate on the subject, besides my personal blog on

    In short, I asked Iain these two questions and the answers motivated to do this project:

    1. How does the coincidence of opposites help create music?

    2. Where does the music come from? (transcription will follow)


    Transciption of the answer to question 1:

    Iain McGilchrist 09-12-2023

    How does the coincidence of opposites
    help create music?

    It’s a terribly good question. I put it in partly
    because I thought this is a really testing question. And I think
    partly, I don’t think I have said that the coincidence of opposites
    helps create music.

    I’ve talked about music and I’ve talked
    about the coincidence of opposties and most probably the coincidence
    of opposites applies in the case of music. And I think it does. When
    I come to think more about it, first of all, music is all about
    relations.And that’s not the same as opposites, of course.

    But in those relationships and
    relations you can have things that do oppose one another and produce
    something very beautiful. So for example, there can be lines of music
    that in some sense both blend and contravene one another. So you get
    interesting discords that then resolve into something else.

    And the resolustion is more beautiful
    then could have been, if there had not been the passing discord,
    which is an image for those of you who know my work.

    Well, that will bring back the idea of
    Kintsugi, the idea of the caballistic myth of creation and the
    repairing of the vessels and so on. So, and I use an example in the
    book, from, one of Bach’s keyboard suites, where there is a chord,
    which is actually A,B,C,D, played simultaneously. If you’ve got an
    piano nearby, play them and think, how can that possibly be part of a
    beautiful piece of music?

    But it is, and when you hear it, you
    are not at all, disturbed by it. In fact, there’s a sort of beauty in
    the fact that is does resolve. And a lot of renaissance music has
    these, so-called false relations, in other words, where you are led
    to feel and suspect something and they’re at odds with one another
    and then they come together and create something more beautiful.

    I think there’s also a coincidence of
    opposites in rhythm, because rhythm seems to be and is a matter of
    punctuation, if you like, in, what is in essence, as I’m constantly
    saying, a flow.

    So a melody, a piece of music is a
    seamless flow, but rhythm is a punctuating force. And it’s no
    surprise therefore that broadly speaking, at least in a non highly
    educated musical mind, that the left hemisphere deals with fairly
    simple rhythms. The left hemishpere deals with fairly simple rhythms,
    the right hemishpere with harmony and melody and with complex

    And I think what’s going on there is,
    that the harmonies and melodies and even complex rhythms like
    syncopations actually activate the flow so that in a syncopation you
    feel the flow even more because of the rhythm. So instead of being a
    punctiating element, the rhythm becomes an extending and unifying

    And this way in which an element of
    differentiation ultimately ends up as a force for union is essential
    to the nature of creation. I say, this is part of the creation of the
    cosmos, of what exists. And I think, in the book, I quote Jury(?) is
    saying that individuality is a decisive phase on a process towards
    continuity. So, in the building of continuity and flow, there needs
    also to be elements that punctuate and articulate. And they may seem
    to be going in opposite directions, they’re not.

    So those would be a couple of things
    that occur to me, off the top of my head, as ways in which the
    coincidence of opposites works for us. And we’re often sensing the
    possibility of that unspoken opposite. And then when it actually is
    revealed in the music, it’s particularly beautiful. We may not notice
    it, but we may notice that something beautiful happened.

    Anneloes Wolters replied 5 months, 3 weeks ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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