In the last post I probably hadn’t thought too deeply about Meyer’s point that although meaning in music is invariably learnt, this need not mean that musical meanings are extramusical. An analogy that works for the [failed] mathematician in me is that all mathematical meanings are learnt, but this in itself need not mean all mathematical meanings are extramathematical. Again my hunch is that all mathematical meanings are necessarily extramathematical in the same way that all musical meanings are necessarily extramusical, but this hunch has nothing to do with whether mathematical or musical meanings are learnt.*
If musical meaning is invariably learnt, then it must have extramusical origins. For you cannot teach someone a new system of meanings without, as it were, “translating” meanings in the new system into meanings in a system he already knows. This is why we use verbal metaphors to explain musical meanings. The first people who “discovered” musical meanings must have found something in music that they could relate to something outside of music. Only in this way would it have been possible for them to translate musical meanings to themselves and others.
Having extramusical origins, however, does not imply it is itself extramusical. Probably every system of meanings originates from something outside of itself. Logic could not have originated from logic alone. It has its roots in innate human ways of reasoning, that is, it came from one aspect of our biology.
There are myriad unsupported and dubious assertions in what I have said above. For example, I am assuming that music is at least in part a human construct, since I do not allow for musical meaning to have existed as an abstract concept before it was ever “discovered” by sentient beings. If it is an abstract timeless concept then it has no origin. Logic originating from biology is probably another blooper. At least, I believe it is true but I believe just as strongly that I can never prove it.
*In case I choose to follow this hunch further: the seed of it is that “meaning” that is wholly confined to one system is not meaningful. For example, negation considered as a logical operator, and considered only as it is within logic, is not meaningful. It is only meaningful when extended to situations outside of logic. This resembles the idea that logical truths are analytic because they just restate what already lies in the system. Synthetic truths must reach beyond the system itself. This is in all probability a load of bollocks, but it is a strong hunch I have. I would love to sit under a tree and think about it for a whole day but life, which does not stand still for me, beckons. If I ever do become a professional philosopher, perhaps I’ll have that luxury.