This subject boasts a wealth of narratives, most of them true, if unembellished by the artist. The character of artists renders fiction unnecessary. In the technical section, below, is an exploration of musical intelligence, one of Gardner’s nine kinds of identified intelligence.
Technical and Analytical Readings
Arguably, music is the most spiritual art form, because it is unbounded by the physical world in the same way as the visual and bodily-kinesthetic arts are. Like other arts, music reaches deep into subconscious, often serving as opening into joy or an outlet for suffering.
Music processing in the brain is being mapped. The frontal and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex are highly involved in music listening. Frontal-temporal-cerebellar beta neural circuits appear to be related to auditory-motor rhythm learning. Several cortical regions appear to be selective for music. The orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala appear to respond to the flow of tension and resolution in music. On the dominant side of the brain, an area of the frontal cortex called “Broca's area supports enhanced visuospatial cognition in orchestral musicians”. Consonance, dissonance and harmony generate activity in the brainstem but not exclusively. The neural basis for music perception is under study.
Oliver Sacks famously underwent fMRI imaging while listening to Bach’s Mass in B Minor, then to Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis: the results confirmed his strong subjective preference for Bach. EEG technology can also be used to track emotional responses during music listening. “Formal musical training seems to have a domain-general, but modality-specific beneficial effect on selective attention.” A three-channel model has been developed, which has yielded insights into why “music directly affects the cognitive system and leads to improved brain efficiency through well-defined mechanisms”. Some research suggests that “nonmusical associations with music training are limited to measures of intellectual ability and their correlates”.
Musical intelligence is associated with other forms of intelligence, and abilities. “Producing and perceiving music engage a wide range of sensorimotor, cognitive, and emotional processes.” “Cognitive Control in Auditory Working Memory Is Enhanced in Musicians”. “. . . musicians (have been) found to attain significantly higher spatial test scores than nonmusicians. . .” “Musical abilities are known to be associated with factors like intelligence, training, and sex”. “ . . . cognitive processes such as musical input analysis, decision making, and output monitoring are independent of general intellectual status.” Perhaps this partly explains why music education of young people is so popular.
- Journal of Art Histiography
- Journal of the National Art Education Association
- Arts Journal
- Journal of Art & Design Education
- Sculpture Journal
- Leiden Journal of Pottery Studies
- Journal of Musicology
- The Journal of Musicology
- International Journal of Musicology
- Journal of Musicological Research
- Journal of Music Theory
- Journal of Culinary Science & Technology
- Penelope J.E. Davies, et. al., Janson's History of Art: The Western Tradition (Prentice Hall, 2006).
- Editors of Phaidon, 30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Across Time and Space (Phaidon Press, 2007).
- Fred S. Kleiner and Christin J. Mamiya, Gardner's ArtThrough the Ages : The Western Perspective (Wadsworth Publishing, 2004).
- Marilyn Stokstad and Michael Cothren, Art History (Prentice Hall, 2010).
- Harold North Fowler, A History of Sculpture (MacMillan, 1916).
- Angelika Taschen, Sculpture: From Antiquity to Present Day (Taschen, 2010).
- Herbert Read, Modern Sculpture: A Concise History (Thames & Hudson, 1985).
- Andrew Causey, Sculpture Since 1945 (Oxford University Press, 1998).
- Penelope Curtis, Sculpture 1900-1945 (Oxford University Press, 1999).
- Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell, The New Grove of Music and Musicians (Oxford University Press, 2004).
- Richard Taruskin, The Oxford History of Western Music (Oxford University Press, 2005).
- Ben Ratliff, Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty (Farrar, 2016): twenty essays that distill popular music.
- Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar, eds., Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop From Elvis to Jay Z (The Library of America, 2017). See a review here.
- Nicholas Fox Weber, The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009): “As conceived by Walter Gropius, then a lieutenant in the World War I German Army, (Bauhaus) was meant to reconcile beauty, simplicity, utility and mass production — a radical departure from the prevailing decorative elaborations.”
- Hisham Matar, A Month in Siena (Random House, 2019): “After three years spent writing about his crucial return visit to Libya, he takes himself to Siena to do nothing but look at pictures painted between the 13th and 15th centuries.”
- Andrew Motion, Ways of Life: On Places, Painters and Poets (Faber & Faber, 2008).
- Rudolf Wittkower and Margot Wittkower, Born Under Saturn: The Character and Conduct of Artists (NYRB Classics, 2006).
- Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz, Legend, Myth and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment (Yale University Press, 1981).
- Giorgio Vasari, The Livesof the Artists (Oxford University Press, 2008).
- William Wallace, Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man, and His Times (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
- Ellen G. Landau, JacksonPollock (Abrams, 2010).
- Justin Spring, The Gourmands’ Way: Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017): “One critic’s often harsh take on a generation of influential food writers.”
- Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney, The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017): “He was capable of narrative embellishment when the facts were not sufficiently dramatic.”
Art and the person:
- Eric Kandel, The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain from Vienna 1900 to the Present (Random House, 2012).
On the power of art and beauty:
- Jack Lowery, It Was Vulgar & It Was Beautiful: How AIDS Activists Used Art to Fight a Pandemic (Bold Type, 2022), “tells the story of the art collectives whose work became the iconography of a movement.”
On art and culture, through film:
- Noah Isenberg, We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017). “’I stick my neck out for nobody,’” said Bogart’s iconic character; then he did.
- Glenn Frankcl, High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic (Doubleday, 2017). “ . . . a profile in collective cowardice”, based on the Red Scare of the 1950s.
The beauty of art, illustrated:
- Abelardo Morell, Flowers for Lisa: A Delirium of Photographic Invention (Abrams, 2018): this book of photographs and commentary arose out of a gift the author gave to his wife.
Documentary and Educational Films
- Marc Chagall, The Concert (1957)
- Chaim Soutine, Little Pastry Cook (1921)
- Georges Braque, Musical Instruments (1908)
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ballet Dancers (1885)
- Edgar Degas, Two Dancers Entering the Stage (1877)
- Claude Monet, Monet's Garden in Argenteuil Sun (1873)
- Jan Vermeer, The Art of Painting (c. 1665-68)
- Rembrandt van Rijn, Musical Allegory (1626)
Film and Stage
- Singin’ in the Rain exemplifies the art of musical theatre.
- An American in Paris is in the same vein.
- Fantasia, encouraging music appreciation
- L’Atalante: . . . the power of L'Atalanteis “in the way the camera captures the world in rich, dreamy images, steeping the audience in a viewpoint both innocent and stark.”
- Chinatown, a study in the art of film making
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky composed a series of musical impressions (Pictures at an Exhibition) in 1874, after attending an art exhibit. Top performances on piano are by , Richter in 1956, Pletnev in 1991, Tsujii in 2010, Kobrin in 2017, Paremsky in 2018, Abduraimov in 2021, and Campanella in 2021. Maurice Ravel scored scored the composition for orchestra (performances conducted by Solti, Karajan and Masur), as did Stokowski (performances conducted by Stokowski, Serebrier and Kazuki). The rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer has also adapted, performed and recorded the work.
- Promenade 1
- Promenade 2
- Il Vecchio Castello (The Old Castle)
- Promenade 3
- Promenade 4
- Ballet des Poussins dans leurs Comques (Ballet of the Chickens in Their Shells)
- Samuel Goldberg and Schmuyle
- Limoges: Le Marche
- Catacombe: Sepulchrum Romanum
- Cum Mortuis in Lingus Mortua
- The Hut on Fowls’ Legs
- The Great Gate of Kiev
Other compositions inspired by the arts:
- Tan Dun, Eight Memories in Watercolor, Op. 1 (1978). Of the work, the composer states: “I had just moved from Hunan to Beijing. At that time, the Cultural Revolution had just ended. China had just begun to open up. At the same time that I was learning Western classical and modern music, I was also very homesick, and I missed the memories and folk songs of my youth. Therefore, I wrote my first piano composition. It was the journal of my homesickness.”
Broadway shows about Broadway shows and other musical arts
- Vaughan Williams, Serenade to Music (choral version); orchestral version
- Monteverdi, Orfeo, about the power of music (performances conducted by Gardiner, Harnoncourt and Savall)
- Chen, Enchantements oublies, for large string orchestra, harp, piano, celesta, timpani & percussion (2004)
- Roussel, Padmâvatî (1923), is an opera about the nature of music (performances conducted by Martinon and Plasson).
- Raga Tilang originated as a raag in Hindustani classical music and has been adopted as a Carnatic classical ragam. Usually it is performed at night (performances by Batish, Amjad Ali Khan and unnamed artists).
- John Keats, “Endymion” (“A Thing of Beauty”)
- John Keats, “Sonnet to a Friend Who Sent Me Some Roses”
- Aysegul Savas, White on White: A Novel (Riverhead Books, 2021): “suggests that art reflects the spirit, that even without our knowledge, changes in the way we express ourselves mirror the condition of our souls.”
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Boston Modern Orchestra Project, “To Music” (John Corigliano, composer)