Reading Jeremy Begbie’s article on music in this issue reminded me of one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. I took music theory in college because I knew a little bit about music and thought I could get a good grade with a minimum of effort. How difficult could music theory be? It turned out that I knew a lot less about music than I thought I did.
Begbie explores a topic about which everyone is his or her own authority on taste but mostly ignorant when it comes to the details. He helps explain how music gathers up human hope and passion as no other human activity does. I loved the reminder of the astonishing physics of music: when you play a middle C on a piano and silently depress the key an octave above, the higher string will vibrate. There’s something mysterious about that, something ontological—music is built into the structure of the universe.