I write works that, even if they were as beautifully written as Shakespeare's or Mark Twain's, still my subject matter is sometimes so limited that maybe only one person in one hundred thousand would try to read it -- even if it was the only reading available on an island on which that one person was stranded alone, forever!!
Who actually cares, for example, about the origin of music? That's the title of a book I wrote in 197O that really should make its mark in the field. A few of my other books (not on such limited subject matter) were limited editions of mere hundreds. Despite that, and very limited in publicity -- they got great reviews and virtually sold out.
But my books on the arts, music, and the inter-relationships between subjects, fail to arouse much interest despite wonderful reviews outside their field.
Therefore -- I write this article to point out that non-fiction scholarly work can be as exciting to read as a mystery thriller, despite what you'd think.
SHERLOCK HOLMES ON THE CASE
The true nature of a subject matter or of an event -- even the origin of music, for example -- can remain elusive. But if any subject/event exists at all, then we know it had to have on an origin (with the possible exception of time and the universe itself ), and that its evolutionary trail necessarily left marks somewhere. So, Holmes cries, "The Game is afoot, Watson," and the search for clues is on, and we search, confident that unlike a Conan Doyle mystery, any non-fiction's set of clues, since it is authored by reality itsself, can have no flaws in logic, no loose ends, no conveniently overlooked issues. When, after years of research, probing, questioning, false trails and seemingly contradictory facts, we finally piece together an explanation which embraces all the findings (and predicts yet-to-be-found-facts), we can then shudder with awe and spine-tingling satisfaction that a truly integral and consistent lawfulness interpenetrates all nature, indeed!
It's like finding the unseen new planet after calculating, that because the nearby ones have orbits that bend and warp as if another planet existed, then, indeed, that other planet must actually exist -- and exist in a certain place for telescopes to look for it. (In fact, that was how Neptune was discovered. Its discovery gave rise to some "astronomy humour": "It was a kick in Uranus that sent you to Neptune.")
Truth is not only stranger than fiction. Usually, it is downright more thrilling than fiction by a hundredfold, in my opinion. Let's take the origin of music, for example:
Would you believe, as in a Hitchcock thriller, that a "fifth column" could be involved to promote some kind of "miracle" or "mystery ethos" and resist anyone finding an explanation for the existence of the world's most universal and popular art? Yet lt's true -- even almost literally. When Hermann Helmholtz, a giant at the beginning of the Age of Reason and science, wrote his work Sensations of Tone (making him the "Father of Acoustics"), he took apart musical sounds. He measured overtones, among other things, and found that "single" natural musical tones actually emit several tones, although we hear them as only "one" tone. The strongest of these overtones, if they are played out loud together, will produce a major chord! And my work is based on my findings that strong overtones of historic, universal and important intervals in the scale add up to the full major (do, re, mi) and minor scale!
Whoa! It's already clear, from just this little bit, that traditional "cultural conditioning" views of musical taste may not be so completely true. I pursued the matter in my work and wrote the first (and only, to my knowledge), full-length work on the origin of music, which until now, was a subject dealt with by most musicologists as not possible to investigate, nor worth it, as if pursuing it could never be anything more than wild speculation.
Helmholtz wrote his works in German in the 1800's. Enter the fifth column(ist), Alexander Ellis, who translated Helmholtz into English back then. Ellis immediately saw the threat implied in Helmholtz' facts: Ellis, an early founder of modern ethnomusicology, saw a challenge to early versions of the theories of "cultural conditioning" or the "all-is-relative in taste" views he espoused. And so Ellis used a kind of "assassination by annotation" in his translation of the famous Helmholtz, sabotaging every page of the great scientist's 4-column work with his own added column of annotated doubts, excuses, footnotes, contrary examples, false claims and misrepresentations of what Helmholtz "really" meant. A fifth columnist in every sense.
Much of my work goes into correcting those and similar false arguments, using modern acoustics, physics, biology and physiology and findings from other subjects. And then after publishing my work, came the anthropological find: The "planet" predicted in my research indeed existed!
My book didn't get far at first. Ellis had indeed well-established the Skinnerian-like school of thought which underpins today's ethnomusicology (and modern apologists for "atonal music"), and my work was eagerly, even "studiously" ignored (to use what only seems like on an oxymoron). Other researchers recently released a psychological study of infants which again, like many studies before it, tends to prove that atonal music (founded upon or excused by the Ellis and Skinnerian viewpoints) is naturally physically unattractive and objectionable.
But the archeological find was the coup de grace: the finding of the oldest song in the world on 4,000 year-old clay tablets in Syria in 1974, deciphered by my now very dear friend at the University of California, Dr. Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, head of the Department of Near Eastern Studies, at this writing. That ancient song was written using harmonic thirds and was composed using the do, re, mi scale!
ROMANCING THE STONE -- "A ROCK SONG"
This was a straw to break the camel's back. Previous evidence against the Ellis-ites came first from fragments of Western notation; then historic tastes; then from Helmholtzian early acoustics; then from physics and physiology; then from popular current tastes (continuously ridiculed and belittled by modernist musicians and musicologists); from psychology, and now finally from anthropology/archeology, which at last starts to put the all-relativist school out to pasture. (See also, on line: "The oldest known musical instrument plays notes of the do, re, mi scale."
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