Author: Anonymous Submitted: 05.01.09 Word Count: 1025
By its explicit definition, music is an art form crafted with the medium of sound. Some may define it as requiring organization through time, something that can be debated heavily. Nature’s chaotic ambience can be free-form music of beautiful and intricate complexity, to the admirer. Muddled, mountainous waves of blanketing noise can be a soothing serenade to some. And to the opposite extreme, molded, uninspired mainstream bands can renounce their musical heritage in the critic’s ear. It is more a matter of opinion, and less of a factual definition.
Sound and vision are the bearers of artwork, incredibly versatile mediums that can stimulate the human mind, emotionally, psychologically, and even physically. As such, they are highly experimental and encompass an incredibly diverse array of interpretation. On the musical side, groups of similar concepts and approaches to music are called genres. Genres are very imprecise, as they often blend into one another and are frequently changing. This is largely because of the tendency for music to heavily influence itself, styles always overlapping and fusing.
One result of the vast multitudes of unique approaches to music is a frequent clash of opposition. Absolutely any attempt to create something with sound, by definition, is musical, but it is usually never seen that way. One might argue that a particular genre or style does not fall under the category, whether due to a personal dislike, educated opinion, or a stereotypical mindset. It is hard to verify anything of the sort: a staple principle often encouraged in our society is uniqueness, individuality and the right to believe what you wish. Who can possibly prove another’s personal opinion wrong solely on the basis of their own? Especially considering that the disagreement is over an object created for the very purpose of individual interpretation. Music, especially, seems to instill this competition; it is marketable and can be intertwined with everyday life. As a result, it is easily corruptible in modern society, a culture based on the warlike clash of stereotypes and strict factions. It can be used as a unifier of people or an ostracizing force.
Music is often thought to have a number of rough guidelines: mainly some kind of recognizable beat, or tempo, but perhaps also rhythm or melody. It can be even further defined, with elements of pitch, timbre, or dynamics. Yet, drone and free form music exists, and is listened to seriously. Nature’s sounds have been replicated or used directly often. Ambient music is very common, and is often intertwined with more popular examples. Bands that cannot play their instruments in any way can even climb up the ladder of popularity. It cannot be judged on and kind of basis of craftsmanship; considering that lo-fi sounds are coveted in many groups, many times over all else. 20th century minimalist composer John Cage once said “There is no noise, only sound.” Every sound has the potential for evoking an emotion, consequently, every sound can be considered musical. It is not the music itself which is the artwork. The ripple of reaction it sheds on humanity gives it its purpose; its reflection on culture exposes its own true self. Thus, any noise, of nature, of humanity, of the imagination, is musical. Every precious droplet of sound evokes some sort of emotional response from its audience. It can be anything from the soft, calming lap of a stream, or as complex as a large symphony.
To some true music aficionados, music is considered almost spiritual experience, and an integral part of society and culture. Though many can dismiss spirituality as an object of faith or a curious tendency of the mind, it is completely true that music has a profound effect on people. Emotions are a complex and very sensitive aspect of humanity. They are essentially the driving force behind every decision one makes; they control social interactions and culture. The fact that music has such a powerful hold on such an important part of the mind is undeniable. A look at music’s place in the current times confirms this. A person wholly untouched by music is incredibly rare; mostly everyone can admit that some sound has reached them in some sense, whether emotionally deep, or aesthetically pleasing. Music is also an excellent medium for conveying another form of art, literature. Strong social messages and emotional outpourings in lyrics are another exceptionally strong source of influence that stems from music. Modern culture would be radically different without the influence of music on civilization.
Music is also a very natural phenomenon. Animals contribute greatly to this viewpoint: consider the warbling notes of a songbird, the rhythmic beat of a horse’s hooves on the ground, or even the mournful cry of a wolf. It is natural in the sense that it grew primordially; the earliest music is believed to have been inspired by nature’s symphony. It is natural in that, though it is corruptible commercially, the raw and elemental foundations will always live on, however buried. It is natural in that it ties so closely with the body and mind, a bond something synthetic and lifeless could never come close to replacing. The arts are an indescribable experience; there is nothing that can compare. Though grounded in it, they transcend the physical world. It is a concept deeply embedded in the human mind that can be reached and stimulated by the beauty of creation.
It is easy to define music literally; it is the interpretation of it that provides the ambiguity. Music, as with all forms of artwork, is a highly personal and very human creation. It is perhaps best to retain its shroud of vagueness, as it in turn invigorates the artistic soul of creation that gives it life. It is a beautiful exercise of the unpredictable human mind, a journey of expression. To spoil such an untamed spirit with the order and structure of modern society undermines its very essence. Music is one of the last connections humanity has to the truth and beauty of the natural world. It is a pure and incredible facet of the human mind, and equally inexplicable.