The most universal of languages. Play any kind of western music to bush people in the kalahari desert and they will know what emotions the music represent.
You can learn a lot from a foreign culture by studying their music, e.g. if you listen to the music being performed at a funeral in eastern africa, you will find the music joyful, which wouldn't nessesarily be the case in european countries.

I have composed a definition of music which suits my tastes, and which I find sufficiently minimalist to be 'true':
Music:
"Music is anything for which there is an active listener"

My feets on the snow, the music of the street, the latest mp3 from brothomStates, or the current number one in the charts are all Music.


now please bear in mind that this definition is a definition for music, not for art, which is different thing: the music of the street often doesn't have any artistic value, although musically enjoyable.

Music helps define who we are. Our sub-cultures in todays society are clasified by what type of music members of that group listen to. Back in the Hell we call High School, the diffrent cliques were addressed by their music: the country people, the goth group, the skaters, the gangsters or the trendy kids. Each person actually was diffrent, but the music helped bring them together and gives common ground to people who might not bother to try to get along.

Murphy's Law = M = mutter

music n.

A common extracurricular interest of hackers (compare science-fiction fandom, oriental food; see also filk). Hackish folklore has long claimed that musical and programming abilities are closely related, and there has been at least one large-scale statistical study that supports this. Hackers, as a rule, like music and often develop musical appreciation in unusual and interesting directions. Folk music is very big in hacker circles; so is electronic music, and the sort of elaborate instrumental jazz/rock that used to be called `progressive' and isn't recorded much any more. The hacker's musical range tends to be wide; many can listen with equal appreciation to (say) Talking Heads, Yes, Gentle Giant, Pat Metheny, Scott Joplin, Tangerine Dream, Dream Theater, King Sunny Ade, The Pretenders, Screaming Trees, or the Brandenburg Concerti. It is also apparently true that hackerdom includes a much higher concentration of talented amateur musicians than one would expect from a similar-sized control group of mundane types.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

     Music reflects and/or shapes our state of mind.
    Music can be considered as a crude mind control tool.

It has the capacity to unify a given mass of people by making them experience the same feelings. This effect has been known for a long time and can be observed routinely on any music concert although this is more striking on hard rock/techno/loud music ones. The audience jumps in rhythm, agrees to whatever the lead singer says, shouts unanimously, etc. Everybody experienced it one way or another. It ranges from the orchestra conductor who jumps up and down like a madman at the climax of a symphony to the common nightclubber.

Still, the relationship of individuals with music is often paradoxal: sad or bluesy persons will listen to quiet, sad music whereas happy ones will fill the air with energetic and uplifting tunes; however, oftentimes depressive people try to cheer themselves up with happy songs... I for instance, never listen to hard rock music except when I am really angry. In those occasions I chose unbearably loud RAW harsh and aggressive music, and it helps me to calm down...

    This effect has been used to manipulate one's feelings during meetings of all kinds. Such events can be very diverse in nature as long as they consist in a gathering of a certain number of people, they often belong to categories such as: entertainment, politics, religion, sect, corporation, etc. These events incorporate other numerous tricks of which the music is only one part in order to turn the audience into a suggestible state , convince the audience, turn the audience into a suggestible state .

    Music influence on one's behaviour is such that it could be dubbed "canned mood" as Aresds write up demonstrates strikingly. The widespread use of muzak in malls and superstores is no accident. Don't get me wrong though: Music is no Evil.

    However, it is still unclear why music has such an effect on the human psyche. Certain songs or kind of music can have memories attached to them but it does not cover all the cases. We are conditioned as well, to a certain extent, by the conventions on which stands classical music (and fully exploited in film soundtracks for instance), the tempo, the instruments and the effects they are usually associated with (think high-pitched violins and a stabbing scene or dramatic discovery in movies). But again, all is not covered by that explanation. A typical test would be to diffuse a constant loud beat of, say, 120 bpm (beats per minute) which is roughly twice the normal heartbeat. Trying to "fight the beat" is generally a bad idea as it is, in the best case, extremely unpleasant. You will notice that your heartbeat increases and that using the energy of the beat for your own purpose is extremely effective. That explains why I put fast paced tracks when I am in heavy tidying mode... But again, it depends on your mood at the time and sometimes only silence will do. Rather tricky then.

     The only sort of explanation I found was in a 1960's piece of hard science fiction ("The Black Cloud" by Fred Hoyle - 1962 - ISBN:0899683444 ). A character advances that music frequencies somehow resonate with the electric activity in the brain and would consequently affect our state of mind. However strange this idea seems, it carries more food for thought than it may appears (more on that in later nodes).

I have Winamp set to load a new skin every time a new song plays—and it used to suck: I didn’t have a high enough cool skin / OK skin ratio. But now that I’ve downloaded cooler skins and deleted some I didn’t like, the visual vibe is much better, and at times can have a sort of symbiosis with the music. Listening to a bunch of tunes I hadn’t played in awhile, and Slava ended and the first notes of Chet Baker’s version of Autumn Leaves were accompanied by a beautiful blue skin. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

Despite all the changes in thought pattern over the centuries and across the continents, there have been a few constants. One of them is the fact of emotion being drawn through music and dance. Go wherever and whenever you want — New York in 1955, Vienna in 1780, Sydney in 589 B.C., and you’ll find, at the very least, singing and dancing of some kind. (In fact, some scientists have speculated that music may actually predate speech.)

There are non-universal but independently-popping-up patterns, as well: music is often used, for example, for spiritual purposes, from the Cathedrals of medieval Europe to the ceremonies of North American natives to Hendrix’s Church of the Electric Lady and Coltraine’s transcendant Love Supreme; often, as well, a song will tell a story, be it Homer’s Odyssey, Beethoven’s Symphonie Pastoral or Gangsta's Paradise (though that’s really more of a haiku).

It’s things like this that lead to the conclusion that music is somehow wired sidelong into our neural structure, like Asimov’s 3 Laws, that the patterns of chords and rhythms are created in ways that are parallel to the patterns in the way we think about ideas and experience emotions.

Of course, there’s a lot of elasticity in the way concepts are mapped into sounds — in fact, a tremendous amount, so much that it begs the question "how in the world did music then get started in the first place, with no environmental connection between, say, minor chords and sadness?" It’s important to remember that there is some underlying non-relative physicality — the shape of sound waves, for example, is not something purely in-the-mind but something definite: play two notes an octave apart and the sound wave that produces the higher note has a frequency exactly twice as great as the one that produces the lower note, which means that the even peaks of the high sound wave (every other peak, that is) line up with the peaks of the low sound wave, and the odd peaks (the remaining ones) line up with the troughs of the low sound wave — and to our ears, it’s easy to see why both notes are called C (or A, or E, etc., depending on which were played). A note with a frequency about 1.5 times that of the first (or 3-divided-by-2 times) is half an octave (or a fifth) higher, and one with a frequency 1.75 times that of the first (or 5-divided-by-four times) is three-quarters of an octave (or a minor seventh) higher. There are mathematical relations between other pairs of notes as well, and generally the more complex or distant the relation, the more dissonant the sound.

One thing common to almost all music is the buildup and release of tension — this often comprises a good portion of, if you will, the information content of the music. But not all music has the information stored in the same place: in traditional western music, it’s stored in the type of chord (and the changes between varying degrees of consonance and dissonance), which is the type of mathematical relationship between a few notes; in Latin music, it’s often the type of counterhythm placed against the main ongoing rhythm, which is the mathematical relationship between a few beats (which, come to think of it, can be thought of as notes scattered out in time — rhythms 1.5 times as fast are analogous to notes 1.5 times as high, and three beats per measure put against four is analogous to one sound wave put against another with a frequency 1.25 times higher). Other types of music store information in other locations still, and if you grow up hearing the information stored in one way, it’s often difficult to extract information stored in a different way, and the music sounds like noise (in the case of bebop to 1950s traditionalists) — or sounds satanic (in the case of punk rock to Christian fundamentalists). (In the case of misinterpretations like these, I suspect that the information content of the used-to music and the now-heard music may be different, but the interpretation is generally flawed as well. For example, speaking of differences in information content, Charlie Parker once said that "music is finding the beautiful notes," which is immediately reflected in his playing, and also is probably not how, say, Stravinsky would have defined it.)

Don’t ask me how a minor chord came to indicate sadness; I suspect, however, that the chord’s mathematical structure has some relation to the mathematical structure of the neural construct used to access that emotion. People who due to their lives develop different neural constructs will therefore create music with different mathematical structure (and, perhaps, the brains of people who listen to music during childhood — and, to a lesser extent, adulthood — will be nudged into forming the neural constructs parallel to that music).

To put it in cyberpunky terms that make me sound smart: music is encrypted thought and emotion that our brains learn how to decrypt (perhaps using some of the same processes used to decrypt language, which is, of course, encrypted thought and emotion of a different kind).

Mu"sic (?), n. [F. musique, fr. L. musica, Gr. (sc. ), any art over which the Muses presided, especially music, lyric poetry set and sung to music, fr. belonging to Muses or fine arts, fr. Muse.]

1.

The science and the art of tones, or musical sounds, i.e., sounds of higher or lower pitch, begotten of uniform and synchronous vibrations, as of a string at various degrees of tension; the science of harmonical tones which treats of the principles of harmony, or the properties, dependences, and relations of tones to each other; the art of combining tones in a manner to please the ear.

⇒ Not all sounds are tones. Sounds may be unmusical and yet please the ear. Music deals with tones, and with no other sounds. See Tone.

2. (a)

Melody; a rhythmical and otherwise agreeable succession of tones.

(b)

Harmony; an accordant combination of simultaneous tones.

3.

The written and printed notation of a musical composition; the score.

4.

Love of music; capacity of enjoying music.

The man that hath ni music in himself Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. Shak.

5. Zool.

A more or less musical sound made by many of the lower animals. See Stridulation.

Magic music, a game in which a person is guided in finding a hidden article, or in doing a specific art required, by music which is made more loud or rapid as he approaches success, and slower as he recedes. Tennyson.<-- like hot and cold --> -- Music box. See Musical box, under Musical. -- Music hall, a place for public musical entertainments. -- Music loft, a gallery for musicians, as in a dancing room or a church. -- Music of the spheres, the harmony supposed to be produced by the accordant movement of the celestial spheres. -- Music paper, paper ruled with the musical staff, for the use of composers and copyists. -- Music pen, a pen for ruling at one time the five lines of the musical staff. -- Music shell Zool., a handsomely colored marine gastropod shell (Voluta musica) found in the East Indies; -- so called because the color markings often resemble printed music. Sometimes applied to other shells similarly marked. -- To face the music, to meet any disagreeable necessity without flinching. [Colloq. or Slang]<-- esp. reprimand for an error or misdeed -->

 

© Webster 1913.

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