Saturday, 15 February 2014

Music and Logic.

If logic is still taught in Universities; if it has not been ousted by such things as ‘Meeja Studies’, then no doubt its lecturers are still remarking on the fact (as they used to believe it to be) that whereas a double negative makes a positive[1], a double positive doesn’t make a negative. To which the best riposte is ‘Yeah, yeah.’ Melanie (not Melanie Klein, the other one) says this (actually she uses a triple positive, but only because the scansion demands it) just after the heart-breaking line ‘Some people say I’ve done all right (for a girl)’ in the only song for which she is remembered, ‘Brand New Key’. (The roller-skate song.)

The Germans even have a special word — again usually repeated — for ‘Yes’ meaning ‘Not really’. They say ‘Tja, tja’. The Marschallin says it  in reply to Faninal’s banal remark about young people, just before Sophie and Octavian’s final Mozartian duet at the end of Richard Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’.

No apologies for discussing ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Brand New Key’ in the same post. Both are masterpieces. As Duke Ellington said ‘There are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music’.

[1] Except in Modern Greek popular speech, where the second negative is a mere intensifier. But Modern Greek is not a good language in which to discuss logic.

No comments:

Post a Comment