Stravinsky is discussing the existence of certain poles of attraction, specifically where consonance and dissonance are concerned:
“Of course, the instruction and education of the public have not kept pace with the evolution of technique. The use of dissonance, for ears ill-prepared to accept it, has not failed to confuse their reaction, bringing about a state of debility in which the dissonant is no longer distinguished from the consonant.”
What happens when dissonance evolves to a point where the public no longer understands its function? We have a serious dilemma; these poles of attraction are collapsing right before our eyes!
Not so fast…
“All music is nothing more than a succession of impulses that converge towards a definite point of repose.”
Think about these:
- A cadence
- The downbeat
- Starting and finishing
- Sound and silence
- Life and death
There are poles of attraction inherent in all of these; you don’t need classic tonality to realize them. Thinking about consonance and dissonance in a classic tonality framework is shortsighted; these poles of attraction run much deeper than that.
At the centre of all of this, around which the poles rotate, is the sounding tone; the “axis of music.”
This is one of my favourite quotes from Poetics:
“All music being nothing but a succession of impulses and repose, it is easy to see that the drawing together and separation of poles of attraction in a way determine the respiration of music.”