A little while ago, I started this blog.

It didn’t take long before I fell into of a frenzy of speculation (this happens when you think too much). I was playing music, now writing about it. But the more I played and wrote, the more it dawned on me I didn’t have a very strong grasp of “music” to begin with!

So I set out on a magical mystery quest, with my big question: “what is music”? And where does every magical mystery quest take you, in the end?

Ancient Egypt, of course.

So here I am, in front that sphinx – mysterious old Music. I ask: “Music, what art thou?” (you have to sound Elizabethan or the sphinx won’t even hear you).

Seeing no response, I tickle it under the paw: “Sphinx, why are we humans musical?”

Getting the same mute response, I decide to go to the Google Gods (right under the Cheops Pyramid) and throw my flippin’ keywords into their oracular search sandbox.

The best answer I come up with? This website on “music science” by a fellow named Philip Dorrell. I even wrote a blog post about it.

an itch you just can’t scratch?

All fine and well, but reading Dorrell just leaves me with more questions than answers. I’m a child of the age: I want answers! Right now (pant, pant)!

At some point, I start to get it: every magical mystery search worth its salt must have dead ends and fruitless avenues. Perhaps I have gone about it the wrong way all along.

Perhaps I should have not gone to the sandbox at all, but instead looked at the Sphinx.

the twist, the twist!!

So instead of Google, I go to YouTube (Oy vey, Gilles, YouTube is owned by Google…Hello!)

Lookie here. There’s a cat on the ‘tube, pretty famous, one of the most gifted denizens of the internet: Nora the Cat.

When you look at the Sphinx, what do you see? A giant feline! Nora, my sphinx!

So you’ve watched the video (and the second installment!), and resumed reading once the adrenalin rush of giddy discovery has subsided.

Bet you forgot the question that started it all (I did!)?

Think of Nora. What is Nora’s gift, evident to all? A “musical sense”? The discovery of pitch? An association of pleasure with certain sounds?

Indeed, it’s tempting to take the “behaviorist” route and explain Nora away with the pain-pleasure conditioned-reflex response. But watching her ears perk up as notes resound, I’m not so sure myself.

Nora seems a rather mystical cat. She’s got feel.

of cats and men

To be sure, Nora’s special gift raises more questions than answers, too. About cats. And humans.

Again, perhaps the answers we seek lie “hidden in plain view”. After all, how did the Ancient Egyptians portray the sphinx? A cat with a human head. What does that say about musicians?

‘Nuff said.

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