Excerpt from “The Glass Bead Game” by Hermann Hesse, 1934.

… He who knows the music just for the essence that the Glass Bead Game has distilled from it, may be a good player, but far from being a musician, and I presume, is not a historian.

The music is not just vibrating and figurative spirit we have abstracted from it, has been to through the centuries, above all, in joy because of the sensitivity, and the flow of the breath, the heartbeat of bars, in color, in the friction and incentives that arise from the combination of voices and instruments arranged game.

True, the spirit is the main thing and there is no doubt that the invention of new instruments, the transformation of the former, the renewal of the modes, the introduction of constructive and harmonic formulas previously unknown – or its prohibition – are always and only gestures, outward in the same way as are the costumes and fashions of the people, but we must have caught and sensory and instinctively liked these external sensory traits to understand that here are the age and style. Music’s made with hands and fingers, mouth and lungs, not only in the brain that, for example, can read notes, but can not play an instrument well, is not qualified to take part in a conversation about music.

Therefore, the history of music mustn’t be exclusively understood as an abstract history of styles; this way, periods of decadence of the music  would be incomprehensible.

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