Friday, April 07, 2006


I realise I have made a fundamental error in using Daniele's Rule as my lietmotiv. It should have become Daniele's Modified Rule :

A man who wants to read, write, listen, talk, and so on and so forth, must let the grass grow long.

Daniele's Rule came from the section Profound Principles for the Profound in

1001 logical laws, Accurate Axioms, Profound Principles, Trusty Truisms, Homely Homilies, Colourful Corollaries, Quotable Quotes and Rambunctious Ruminations for all walks of life.

compiled by John Peers (Fawcett Gold medal, 1978) ISBN 0449134148

which also included Mark Twain's Postulate

Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest


Popper, in his significant work Objective Knowledge, explains his idea of versimilitude by reference to the concept of theory. He defines truth content and then uses as examples the theories of gravitation of Newton and Einstein. One of the key reasons that E is superior to N, he reasons, is that offers us new opportunities to learn more about the facts: without the challenge of Einstein's theory, we should never have measured (with the greater degree of precision needed) the apparent distance between the stars surrounding the sun during an eclipse, or the red shift of the light emitted by red dwarfs'.

...the stronger theory, the theory with the greater content, will also be the one with the greater virisimilitude unless its falsity content is greater.

After listening to Daniele Barenboim's first Reith Lecture, I had the same sort of feeling about verisimilitude and theories, even though he wasn't specifically posing another theory against his. He was making claims for music through his knowledge of it and by using analogies with real life events, which made it particularly interesting. For example, he argued that engaging in music was a training for democracy, placing before us the analogues of each sphere, music and politics (or life if you wish). At the end, during questioning, he exhorted for music at an early age, which no one who had understood what he was arguing could deny.

If you haven't listened to it the web page from which it all starts is here.

There is a transcript of the first lecture on the page too, which includes the Q & A which was as long as the lecture itself.


9 April

A wag suggested the first lecture was so thin DB must have jotted it down on a scrap of paper in the way up in the lift, but as soon as I got into the talk, it seemed clear to me that the simpler the beginning the more effective the follow-through. Though waiting the right moment for no. 2 (requisite attentiveness, silence and calm) gleaned from elsewhere that he was said to have become slightly unhinged during a section where he decried musak (in lifts presumably), then in number 3 apologised for going on a bit.

I checked the transcript of no. 1, to enjoy a joke when asked by a neuroscientist who had expalined his research scanning musicians brains and finding the the emotional centred did not light up.

Hi, I'm er Professor Lloyd Parsons, and I, I'm a brain scientist, and what we do is we put musicians in brain scanners and monitor the blood flow in the brain while they perform on an electric piano for example - or singers in other cases - but on an electric piano. And two of the things we noticed are that the brain areas that would normally be excited and represent the emotional responses to music are not active for the musicians who's performing, relative to playing scales for example. And we also noticed that large other regions of the brain are also de-activated, they're not engaged, and those are regions that allow you to plan the future, to think about what's going on in the environment, and for salient events. So my two findings about brains of musicians who are performing suggests that the performance of the music allows us to get to some sort of inner peaceful place in which our emotional worries and our attention to the world are detached. And you refer to this, as many of us do, as heart and brain, but as a brain scientist it all happens in the brain.

You didn't say what… you didn't say what sort of music you were playing to this.....

This was Bach.

Bach? Okay.

Bach. So one thing I might ask you is whether your own intuitions, as you play The Well Tempered Klavier for example, fit this scientific view of what's happening in the brain of a musician like yourself.

You know I won't be able to play tomorrow!


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