LIBRARY: THEORY: WHAT IS MUSIC?
What is music? The word is such a
vague term covering everything from the whistle of a janitor to
the beauty of Beethoven’s 5th. The American Heritage
Dictionary describes music as “The art of organizing tones to
produce a coherent sequence of sounds intended to elicit an
aesthetic response in a listener.” True as that may be, does
it really give the description music deserves?
To begin with, we know that music
is an art, and there are facts to support that statement. To
start, we must agree that an art is something specifically
created to initiate an emotional response from the person(s)
experiencing it. Now because hearing is a sense, and music
is something we hear, music is, therefore, an art.
Of course, music is much more
than organized tones. Music is also the life work of many
people. Music is hundreds of sound-producing devices. And music
is and has been the initiative of tears and smiles since the
birth of mankind.
But what characteristics must
something hold to be considered “musical”? Must it be
melodic? or could nails on a chalkboard be titled musical?
Perhaps the term musical refers to something that merely grasps
the attention of it’s listener through hearing?
Finally, is music always
intending to “elicit an aesthetic response in a listener.”?
Perhaps sometimes it is desired that music scare or anger the
listener? Can’t music be a form of teasing or torturing its
In conclusion, it is safe to say
that the broad term music can be described in as many ways as a
musician could perform a sonata. Maybe music isn’t meant to be
explained. Maybe it’s just meant to be heard.
to the Basics of Theory >>