Analysis and its Limits

Submitted by Robert M. Suits on Monday, 1/30/2012, at 5:38 PM

            Music is among the oldest of arts in the world, and yet somehow it remains one of the most arcane. A bizarre barrier seems to stand between a piece of music and our best efforts at analysis – no matter how hard we try or the methods we use, something is always lost in the transition from notes to words. The magic we feel listening to a Beethoven sonata – an almost pure expression of mood, character, and ideas simultaneously – is never replicated by an analysis of that sonata.