A few months back I noted how scientists are in the habit of touting musical "discoveries" which have long been commonplace among composers and musicologists. A new example arrives from The Guardian (link via Byzantium's Shores): "Why is Elgar's music for 'Land of Hope and Glory' so quintessentially English, while Debussy sounds so French? It is all because the music mimics the composer's native language, say scientists. The researchers studied the question because while many classical scores have a distinctly national feel, no one had put forward a good explanation for why that should be." No one? People have been obsessing over this question for centuries: writings on the subject would fill many volumes. Rousseau wrote in his Essay on the Origins of Languages: "At first there was no music at all other than melody, nor any other melody than the varied sound of speech, the accents formed the song, the quantities formed the meter, and one spoke as much by sounds and rhythm as by articulations and voices." Johann Gottfried Herder wrote prolifically on similar topics, noting how each country's language formed a body of folk song. By the beginning of the twentieth century, Bartók and Janáček were measuring with extraordinary precision how folk songs mirrored the rhythms of everyday speech and the qualities of particular languages. Unless there is some genuine methodological breakthrough that the writer has concealed, this is a non-event.