It’s a good question that not only musicians, but everybody who loves music should ask themselves. And not only ask, but try to find an answer. Seems a bit silly, right?
Don’t we all know what music is? And what music does? And what does it mean to us?
Unfortunately No. Talking to people about music and reading about it online made me realize that most people don’t know or rather, don’t even think too much about what music is and why they like it. For the question “why do you like this band and not another one?” The most common answer is – ”I don’t know, I just like (or don’t) how it sounds” Or ”I just like how this musician dresses” or acts on stage. But the way that people dress or act is not music. Also often you can hear “I like this song because it brings me happy memories” – right, but happy memories are not music either. Or” I like the lyrics” – good, but needless to say that lyrics aren’t music, It’s a separate form of art. So what do we actually like about music? And does it have something to do with music at all? And even farther: Do we actually like music itself? Or do we only like elements that go along with it? First we need to ask ourselves what music is, no matter how silly it sounds.
If you ask anyone that question, it’s very doubtful that you will get a clear definition as an answer: Something like ”music is a group of sounds in a certain order and particular rhythm”. Or “music is a progression of sound in a certain rhythm and order united by one idea”. Even musicians will not always give you answers like that. And it’s probably right, because music is so much more than just repeating sounds in a certain order. But what the music Is? What makes a lot of different sounds a Music?
After all a lot of things can produce the sound and not only sound but sound in a certain rhythm, like for example jackhammer can also make noise in a certain rhythm, but it would be weird to call it a musical instrument. And several of them a Band. Or perhaps what makes sound become a music is an Idea, the general thought behind the sound, the one that makes you think of certain things and feel some particular feelings. If so, then music is not about a sound but about an Idea. This Idea and artistic image comes into your head after listening to sounds in particular order. That is what actually makes music an art. I know that I probably didn’t say anything new by writing that, but sometimes I think we get lost in words and meaning that we forget really important things.
One may ask me, why then not to write your thoughts and Ideas on paper the way that literature works, so everybody understands? Of course that would be easier than to write a symphony, or maybe not? And why in general people use other forms of art than writing?
Maybe they don’t know how to describe certain feelings or thoughts that didn’t form yet into particular sentences. There might be some truth in that. Some feelings are hard to describe in words, probably because feelings are personal, but words in any language are universal, made to share information, and based on things that everybody experiences. So some feelings and thoughts that come just to us, we don’t know how to describe. But we can draw a picture or put them into the sounds and say something that we don’t have words for. Therefore music is a form of thinking and feeling.
Music can not only describe our thoughts and feelings that we already have, but also can help us to search for some new Ideas, new ways to look at the world. So music is also a philosophy. Something that makes you learn the truth about the world, search for understanding and meaning, share your feelings and thoughts, your concerns etc. with other people.
If it’s all so, then what role does music play in our lives? Just entertainment? A thing to do when we don’t have anything else going on? Some nice addition to our dinner or glass of wine?
Did Bach and Beethoven write their great music at night just so people would have something to listen to while doing other things? Or perhaps to make us think about something important, share their thoughts and views with us. Make us feel something that they were feeling. So that might be a way to look at music, asking myself what it tells me and what it makes me think of. Which feelings it brings and if it makes me a better person? Or it just kills my time and makes me not think and focus on myself?
We are the only ones who can answer those questions, and I know that I asked a lot of questions in this article, but sometimes a question is more important than an answer. Or rather searching for the answer is more important than to get a ready answer from someone else.
If we search for an answer I am sure that our answers will be different, but they will make us understand the truth about the world, people around us and ourselves. Understanding ourselves is very important and music can certainly help with that!