[lit-ideas] Re: The Devil's Chord

  • From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 19 May 2015 15:27:09 -0500

Let me say at the outset that I DO often actually read these posts and
frequently enjoy reading them, I'll not venture into the murky
territory of comprehension. Suffice it to say that I still haven't
been unequivocally convinced about anything. But that doesn't matter.
At least I don't come here looking for answers to Air Conditioning
problems of which, unfortunately, there are many and they leave little
doubt as to their existence. This list has helped me most in arguing
with my customers who say that they set their thermostat on 70 degrees
but that the AC shuts off at 71 degrees. Now physiological and
psychological studies tell us that most people cannot differentiate
temperature differences of less than 3 to 5 degrees. I used to try to
convince my customers of this, but they would have none of it. So
now I congratulate them on their superior senses, go to the thermostat
and act like I'm adjusting something inside it, then slap it back on
the wall. "That should do it." I leave them as contented as lambs in
clover. I've come to kinda believe we are nothing more than wads of
beliefs about the world that we make come true even if only

On 5/19/15, Walter C. Okshevsky <wokshevs@xxxxxx> wrote:

If you stare at your hand and say "This is my hand" (or "I know that this is
hand") aren't you just reporting on a test of your eyesight? W maintained
if the distinction between the verified and the verifying isn't clear,
not dealing with a knowledge claim.

But in certain circumstances, W went on to say, "This is my hand" or "Here
is my
hand" IS a verifiable belief, hence a knowledge-claim. I can be mistaken;I
doubt whether it is indeed mine. As in, after a terrible plane accident I
search for my severed hand and claim to have found it.

Actually, now that I think about it, I only believe he came up with that
example. It may be my own or I read or heard it somewhere.

Walter O

Quoting Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>:

I am not sure why "Here is a hand" is supposed to be essentially
from any other empirical proposition. It just happens to be one that is
easily verifiable; I cannot easily verify the location of Salzburg from
where I am sitting but I can always stare at my hand, touch it etc. So
issue is whether (verified) empirical propositions can supply knowledge.


On Tue, May 19, 2015 at 4:52 PM, Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Did Wittgenstein do anything wrong?
Yes, he did not be grice

-----Original Message-----
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:
lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Walter C. Okshevsky
Sent: 19 May 2015 15:09
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: The Devil's Chord

As is so often the case, I'm not quite sure what Speranza is saying (or
But in this case I find myself having to support his (?) claim that
is nothing dogmatic about W's bedrock or riverbed as we have it in *On

While a dogmatic belief is one that refuses to learn, riverbed
"propositions" - i.e., "This is my hand" - constitute a form of
that is not verifiable/falsifiable precisely because certainty is not
epistemic. It is not open to doubt and verification/falsification in
way that, say, the belief that Salzburg is between Vienna and Munich is
open to question. That is why W exclaimed "Moore doesn't know
response to Moore's hand waving while delivering a lecture at Mutton
College on a proof of an external world.

Believe it or not.

Walter O

Quoting dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx:

In a message dated 5/15/2015 11:37:01 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
"I do not accept that W thinks such "rules" would be "arbitrary".
do I guess the word "dogmatic" is one we will find in W in the
context of this issue or is one which he would find appropriate (to
adapt W's metaphor:
when our "spade is turned" because it has "hit bedrock" it is not
because it

is a "dogmatic" spade but because it is a tool with limits to what
can do

[yes - it is the "limits of language" that underlie W's "Remarks on
Colour" as they underlie nearly all his philosophising]) . But of
course I may be mistaken in all this (and in my general view of W as
engaged in examining philosophical problems given the "limits of
language"): perhaps [it] can [be] show[n] that W indeed uses the word
"arbitrary" or "dogmatic" in this context - more than this, perhaps W
does somewhere say "that whatever "rules"

we might teach, as to what is "jarring"or "non-jarring", these rules
will be "arbitrary, dogmatic.."" But I doubt it. If W does say such
things, I would like the actual words quoted. ... I do not think we
can infer any such thing from what [is quoted]."

I'm not sure about Goethe, but I would think Witters was familiar
the so-called "Devil's Chord", and so, we may also want to consider

(i) to what extent Goethe merely SHOWED (or shew as Anscombe prefers)
things, rather than said them.
(ii) to what extent Witters SHOWED (or shew as Anscombe prefers)
things, rather than said them.

The Devil's Chord seems like a good candidate for what others (not
Devil I expect) may call jarring.

Although this ratio [45/32] is composed of numbers which are
5 or under, they are excessively large for a 5-limit scale, and are
sufficient justification, either in this form or as the tempered
the epithet "diabolic," which has been used to characterize the

This is a case where, because of the largeness of the numbers, none
but a temperament-perverted ear could possibly prefer 45/32 to a
small-number interval of about the same width.

In the Pythagorean ratio 81/64 both numbers are multiples of 3 or
under, yet because of their excessive largeness the ear certainly
prefers 5/4 for this approximate degree, even though it involves a
prime number higher than

3. In the case of the 45/32, 'tritone' our theorists have gone

elbows to reach their thumbs, which could have been reached simply
and directly and non-'diabolically' via number 7.

The name diabolus in musica ("the Devil in music") has been applied
the interval from at least the early 18th century, though its use is
not restricted to the tritone.

Andreas Werckmeister cites this term in 1702 as being used by "the
authorities" for both the tritone and for the clash between
chromatically related tones such as F and F♯, and five years later
likewise calls "diabolus in musica" the opposition of "square" and
"round" B (Bâ™® and Bâ™­,
respectively) because these notes represent the juxtaposition of "mi
contra fa".

Johann Joseph Fux cites the phrase in his seminal 1725 work Gradus ad
Parnassum, Georg Philipp Telemann in 1733 describes, "mi against fa",
which the ancients called "Satan in music", and Johann Mattheson in
1739 writes that the "older singers with solmization called this
pleasant interval 'mi contra fa' or 'the devil in music'".

Although the latter two of these authors cite the association with
devil as from the past, there are no known citations of this term
the Middle Ages, as is commonly asserted.

However Denis Arnold, in the New Oxford Companion to Music, suggests
that the nickname was already applied early in the medieval music

It seems first to have been designated as a "dangerous" interval when
Guido of Arezzo developed his system of hexachords and with the
introduction of B flat as a diatonic note, at much the same time
acquiring its nickname of "Diabolus in Musica" ("the devil in

Because of that original symbolic association with the devil and its
avoidance, this interval came to be heard in Western cultural
convention as

suggesting an "evil" connotative meaning in music.

However, suggestions that singers were excommunicated or otherwise
punished by the Church for invoking this interval are likely

At any rate, avoidance of the interval for musical reasons has a long
history, stretching back to the parallel organum of the Musica

In all these expressions, including the commonly cited "mi contra fa
est diabolus in musica", the "mi" and "fa" refer to notes from two
adjacent hexachords.

For instance, in the tritone B–F, B would be "mi", that is the

degree in the "hard" hexachord beginning on G, while F would be "fa",
that is the fourth scale degree in the "natural" hexachord beginning

So one can imagine a 'Lehre' that is composed of rules that 'forbid'
the 'diabolus in music' without having to SAY it but 'show' it.



--- Witters, Remarks on Colour: 91. "If there were a HARMONY theory
colors, it would probably begin with a division of the colors into

groups and would FORBID certain MIXTURES or combinations, would allow
others; and it would, like HARMONY theory, not JUSTIFY its rules."
"Can that not shed us some light on the nature [Art] of those
differences between the

colors?" 93. "[We do not say A knows something, B knows the
But if one replaces "knows" by "BELIEVES," then it is a
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