Close up of a keyboard.

What is Music?

Music has many elements – pitch, rhythm, texture, dynamics – but what exactly is music? Having studied and taught music I know the standard answer to be ‘an order of sounds’.  In other words, take a few different sounds – any sounds – arrange them into an order of your pleasing, and you have, at least by one definition, a piece of music. As an example think of the following sounds:

    1. A lever on an old-style cash register being pressed.
    2. A lever on an old-style cash register being released.
    3. The cash register’s bell ringing.
    4. Money jingling.
    5. Paper tearing.
    6. Some noises produced by tape effects.

This, although not what we might consider to be music in the conventional sense, can still be regarded as music. After repeating the above sequence of sounds two or three times I could start to expand the composition by adding other sounds, such as a bass and electric guitar, for example, followed by drums.  However, at this point it’s likely that I would be sued by the original composer. (The music described here is the track ‘Money’ from Pink Floyd’s classic 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon.)

Photo of Philip Glass.I recently saw an interview with the renowned minimalist composer Philip Glass (pictured left), on the BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ programme, who defined music as

…the most eloquent language that human beings use to communicate with each other.”

He did go on to concede that an artist might equally use this definition for art, and a poet for poetry, before revealing another enlightened definition:

“Music is a place, and it’s as real as Chicago or Indianapolis, or the city you live in. It’s an absolute place, and once you know where that place is, you can go there.”

You can choose for yourself which definition you think is closest to the truth, but maybe they are all true.

 

 


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Just arrived on this site:

May 29, 2017. New this month is a selection of six Royalty Free Radio Jingles.

April 30, 2017. After a half-year break from adding new material to this site, I've added an article / review on Headphone Holders.

Sept. 29, 2016. In the final part of how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk, I show the finished product, and provide further information on cost, construction time and more.

Aug. 30, 2016. In Part 4 of how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk, I talk about stainng and varnishing.

July 12, 2016. This month, in Part 3 of how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk, I detail the construction process.

June 16, 2016. This month, in Part 2 of how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk, I look at the preparation needed..

May 30, 2016. This month sees the start of a series on how to design and build a DIY Music Production Desk. Part 1 this month looks at the design process.

April 29, 2016. This month I have added a short article on Trumpet Psychology to the Musicians' Corner - an essential read for aspiring professionals.

March 29, 2016. This month the Selected CD Reviews section has been updated with four additional audio files.

Feb. 24, 2016. A new photo has been added to the Gallery of a Valentine's Day concert I played at this month, accompanying various artists.

Jan. 14, 2016. New in the Reviews section this month is a look at PMC's TB2 Nearfield Monitors.

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Sometime Somewhere...

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A relaxing Smooth Jazz CD. Listen to extracts of all 12 tracks now.

 

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