|Just to add more to the pile, here's what was written in my last section, regarding music...|
Contemplation takes many forms, from the sometimes "lead me by the nose" approach of literature and - emotionally - sometimes music, to the "slam" effects of paintings and sculptures, with a lot of sublimity in between. All, however, as works of Art, are united in their intelligibility.
What, for instance, is intelligible about music?
As Rand pointed out, we gain our knowledge thru the use of concepts - that is, by means of abstractions. But our cognition, however, begins with the ability to perceive. "Art brings man's concepts to the perceptual level of his consciousness and allows him to grasp them directly, as if they were percepts," she added. This means that a work of Art takes the abstractions of metaphysics and makes them into specifics - the concretes. Now, concretes are usually thought of in terms of entities - yet Rand, writing in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, has said that concretes subsume not only entities, but attributes, actions, and relationships. To me, this includes situations as well - what, I would say, in terms of music, as emotional situations. This brings me to conclude that Rand did indeed make an error in assuming that Helmholtz's use of sensations meant that music is auditorilly experienced as sensations, not percepts. But, as David Kelley pointed out in his Evidence of the Senses, all sounds are properly to be regarded as percepts, as he goes on to explain their feature as being an attribute of specifics in an auditory context. The harmonic sounds, as tones, then get integrated in to what is called a melody, the fundamental aspect of music.
Aside from her misdirected misunderstanding of the sensation/perception issue of musical experience, there are two criticisms of her view of music I also find a need to address. The first is that she premised the essence of music as being mathematical. The easiest way to respond to such a criticism is to remember that she defined mathematics as the science of measurement - and also to remember that a sheet of music, any music, is a sheet full of measurement. Yes, there are often aspects of music that gives texture to the music, put the measurement into contexts - but the bottom line is that music is an expression of auditory stimulus according to mathematical means. It is on that basis, the fundamental level, that she expressed the way music is involved in one's sense of life and was concerned with.
The other criticism leveled at her music theory is the one she really didn't give a satisfactory answer to - what is the re-presentational aspect of music that corresponds to reality? I suspect part of the problem in giving a good answer to this was her sensation/perception mis-understanding aspect of how the mind hears music. But, if one were to re-translate her sensation mistaken observations and put them into perceptual concretes, it seems a much more integrated and noncontradictory view emerges.
While I am primarily an artist, tho I also sculpt, I also am an avid listener of serious music. One thing I've observed is that for the most of human history, music was in accompaniment with song and dance. It wasn't until about 300 years ago or so that secular music really made its mark, and music started being played for its own sake. But, for the time music was connected with voice especially, and dance, there was never a questioin about its expressive meanings. This is to say there was no problem as to what aspect of reality music's meaning referred to, music's emotional respondings. The question would only arise when music per se was involved. Yet, as far as I am concerned, it seems a false problem, as the same set of pitch, beat, tone, etc. that music makes use of when accompanying vocals should elicit the same response emotionally when not accompanying vocals, when the music stands on its own. This is clearly noted in such instances as laments, or songs of joy, or the emotions of solemnity, or the gaiety of dance. Music, as such, is a very abstract Art, and in expressing what it is and does in a form similar to the definition of Art, I would have to say that music selects and stylizes certain important or meaningful aural experiences, making use of certain configurations which best express those qualities, drawing out the relative emotional responses - abstracting, as it were, to better the perception.
Even when one deals with music beyond a single instrument or small group of instruments, as, say, the expressiveness of an orchestra, where far greater variety of tones and emotional derivations can be achieved, note that there is still a co-respondant to singing - the violins, which are analogous to the vocal, whether singly as in a violin concerto, or groupwise as if a choral, as they are arranged in the orchestra itself. In any case, it is clear there is intelligibility, a definite "re-presentation of..." in music, and a definite reference to "...some aspect of reality."