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If that were so, Stranger, practically all of us would know what animals are beautiful.Athenian
You are quite right. In regard, then, to every representation—whether in painting, music or any other art—must not the judicious critic possess these three requisites: [669b] first, a knowledge of the nature of the original; next, a knowledge of the correctness of the copy; and thirdly, a knowledge of the excellence with which the copy is executed?Clinias
It would seem so, certainly.Athenian
Let us not hesitate, then, to mention the point wherein lies the difficulty of music. Just because it is more talked about than any other form of representation, it needs more caution than any. The man who blunders in this art will do himself the greatest harm, by welcoming base morals; [669c] and, moreover, his blunder is very hard to discern, inasmuch as our poets are inferior as poets to the Muses themselves.1 For the Muses would never blunder so far as to assign a feminine tune and gesture to verses composed for men, or to fit the rhythms of captives and slaves to gestures framed for free men, or conversely, after constructing the rhythms and gestures of free men, to assign to the rhythms [669d] a tune or verses of an opposite style. Nor would the Muses ever combine in a single piece the cries of beasts and men, the clash of instruments, and noises of all kinds, by way of representing a single object; whereas human poets, by their senselessness in mixing such things and jumbling them up together, would furnish a theme for laughter to all the men who, in OrpheusÕ phrase, “have attained the full flower of joyousness.” For they behold all these things jumbled together, and how, also, the poets rudely sunder rhythm and gesture from tune, putting tuneless words into meter, or leaving time and rhythm [669e] without words, and using the bare sound of harp or flute, wherein it is almost impossible to understand what is intended by this wordless rhythm and harmony, or what noteworthy original it represents. Such methods, as one ought to realize, are clownish in the extreme in so far as they exhibit an excessive craving for speed, mechanical accuracy, and the imitation of animals' sounds, and consequently employ the pipe and the harp without the accompaniment of dance and song;
1 In what follows, the main features censured are—incongruity, when the words, tunes and gestures of an acted piece of music are out of harmony; senselessness, when tunes and gestures are divorced from words; barbarousness, when the thing represented is paltry or uncouth (such as a duck's quack); virtuosity, when the performer makes a display of the control he has over his limbs and instruments, like a mountebank or “contortionist.” All these are marks of bad music from the point of view of the educationist and statesman, since they are neither “correct” nor morally elevating.
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