Music: a language about oneself

I am not actually tone deaf, though it might be better if I were. Music can touch me, it can get at me, it can torment. It just, as it were, reaches me, like a sinister gabbling in a language one can almost understand, a gabbling which is horribly, one suspects, about oneself. When I was younger I had even listened to music deliberately, stunning myself with disorderly emotion and imagining that I was having a great experience. True pleasure in art is a cold fire. I do not wish to deny that there are some people — though fewer than one might think from the talk of our self-styled experts — who derive a pure and mathmatically clarified pleasure from these medleys of sound. All I can say is that ‘music’ for me was simply an occasion for personal fantasy, the outrush of hot muddled emotions, the muck of my mind made audible.

— Iris Murdoch, from The Black Prince