Perhaps Stefan Koelsch’s study should have been limited to trained musicians, rather than exclude them. Word and visual associations in music are vigorously reinforced in movie soundtracks, cartoons, and elsewhere. But classical composers and musicians typically take pains to isolate their musicianship from any and all nonmusical elements. This inquiry may shine light on the alleged universality of a musical “language.” Music lovers have been brawling over related issues for centuries.

Bernard Rice
Hinsdale, Ill.