Saturday, 3 April 2010

Riemann for Anti-dummies: introduction and critique

Riemann for Anti-dummies: introduction and critique
You know how you sometimes get an apparently random idea in your head while you are working on something, and it doesn't seem to make any sense, but it just won't go away? Well while I was working on Moldavite, the first part of my novel (downloadable from www.meiraeliot.com) I kept thinking of Mozart, again and again. I kept thinking about the wit, brilliance and lightness of touch in his music, the pace and the elegance of his composition - the way his melodies seem both simple and complex at the same time. "Now that is how I want to write," I kept thinking. It may be because I was raised in a musical family - my mother was a professional soprano - that I have always found musical analogies meaningful. When I am editing my writing I also read the text out loud at least once and take anything out that trips up the flow of natural speech.

I am now several chapters into Part Two of the novel. This part is called Il Filo, or 'thread', which was the term Mozart's father Leopold used to describe the motif developed in the various parts of a musical composition. Mozart learned this art in Vienna by making a detailed study of Bach's fugues, which astonishingly from our present perspective were virtually unknown in Austria at that time. After the event, genius always seems to have a kind of inevitable quality about it, a sense of natural evolution, but on the ground and at the time it is usually acquired by hard work, study and practice. If the 'thread' did not have enough mileage in it for development and counterpoint, then this was usually a reason to abandon the composition, as numerous abandoned works by Mozart testify.

Riemann for Anti-dummies offers a fascinating journey into the often hidden connections between apparently unconnected things - time-space, the audio-visual, the architecture of creation and the thought processes, mathematical and philosophical, that underpin it.