May 03, 2009

From the Corner

A commenter on genuis:
I think there are two components of genius, both of them exemplified by Mozart. One is what Napoleon used to call "genius" — the ability to take infinite pains with details. That is the genius referred to in your post. But there is something else in the genius of Mozart for example — the genius for the simple perfect melody — that has little to do with the the ability to focus on details.

Consider the Beatles tune "Blackbird" (Paul McCartney) or the fast section a few minutes into Mozart's 38th Symphony. In both melodies the initial theme is constructed of just a few tones — tonic to dominant, the most basic relation of any two notes in western tonal harmony — but in both cases a simple rhythmic twist created a melody of lasting perfection and beauty. There's something magic in that, something inspired and simple and purely aesthetic, that's an indispensable part of genius too.

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