"Art is the Perfect Imperfection" by Dia Calhoun. August Theme

In an article titled Music in Your Ears (January 28, 2013 The New Yorker), Adam Gopnick writes about the combination of neuroscience and acoustical technology. When I read this:

"scientists have found that “people like music played with a bit of, but not too much, expressiveness . . . the two expressive dimensions whose force in music Levitin had measured . . . were defections from precision. Vibrato is a way of not quite landing directly on the note: rubato is not quite keeping perfectly to the beat. Expressiveness is error . . . "

Sparks flew!  I immediately began connecting this concept to literature. Then a few sentences on, I leaped out of my chair after reading:

“. . . Levitin could show” (measure scientifically) “that what really moves us in music is the vital sign of a human hand, in all its unsteady and broken grace. (Too much imperfection and it sounds like a madman playing: too little, and it sounds like a robot.) . . . The art is the perfected imperfection.” (italics mine)

This is exactly what makes good writing. But I also leaped from my chair because the idea was so beautifully expressed. A good idea can ignite your brain and imagination, and nothing makes me feel more alive than that.


  1. Lovely, Dia! I'm so interested in the application of neuroscience to the arts. Highly recommend WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron.

  2. I can't tell you how much I love this. I've got to check out that book, Tracy!


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