Such is the power of music to grab hold of the soul that Socrates warns us of its dangers. “So then,” Socrates says to his young interlocutor, Glaucon, “isn’t this why upbringing in music is most sovereign? It’s because rhythm and concord most of all sink down to the inmost soul and cling to her most vigorously as they bring gracefulness with them; and they make a man graceful if he’s brought up correctly, but if not, then the opposite.” Socrates points to ‘rhythm and concord’ for the source of music’s power, not its tones, intervals, melodies, and harmonies. Is he right in that? Do we think he is right about the power of music for good and for ill?
My alma mater’s President reflects upon the place of music in a liberal education.