Tom Gilson

Listen! You’ll Hear It! (Reductionism Fails)

There is a school of thought that says physics is the ultimate reality; that everything reduces to subatomic particles mindlessly subject to natural law.

The story is told—I don’t remember where I heard it—of two young women sitting in the front row of a concert hall, holding the score for the music the orchestra was about to play. The conductor saw them, and he stepped off the podium, leaned over, and whispered to them, “You will not find it in there.”

I was a professional musician earlier in my career, and in the course of my studies I learned enough music theory to be able to describe music mathematically. I’ve studied some acoustics, and I understand how to describe music in terms of pressure oscillations in the air. But there is something to music—the “it” of which that conductor was speaking—that is not to be found in vibrations, in mathematics, or even in the score.

Listen to Chopin. Listen to Coltrane. Listen to Crosby, Stills & Nash. In it you will hear reductionism’s rebuttal.

Commenting Restored

The comment function here has been out of service, possibly causing frustration, for which I apologize. You can comment again now, and it will save and post as it should do. First-time commenters' comments will not appear, however, until approved in moderation.

2 thoughts on “Listen! You’ll Hear It! (Reductionism Fails)

  1. The point is well taken. There is something subjective about the experience of music that cannot be found in the score or the mathematics of music. Music touches us and inspires us, soothes us, and excites us. It moves us to great things. There is nothing in the score that says that.

Comments are closed.


Subscribe here to receive updates and a free Too Good To Be False preview chapter!

"Engaging… exhilarating.… This might be the most surprising and refreshing book you’ll read this year!" — Lee Strobel

"Too Good To Be False is almost too good to be true!" — Josh McDowell

Purchase Here!

More on the book...

Discussion Policy

By commenting here you agree to abide by this site's discussion policy. Comments support Markdown language for your convenience. Each new commenter's first comment goes into moderation temporarily before appearing on the site. Comments close automatically after 120 days.

Copyright, Permissions, Marketing

Some books reviewed on this blog are attached to my account with Amazon’s affiliate marketing program, and I receive a small percentage of revenue from those sales.

All content copyright © Thomas Gilson as of date of posting except as attributed to other sources. Permissions information here.

Privacy Policy