Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, “Music governs the harmony of the stars,” and the idea isn’t just an old one. Different scientists think music has been around for as long as language itself. According to Oxford University professor Jeremy Montagu, music was probably around before human beings had spoken. Even humming is music, and it probably happened before we developed the ability to speak. This means that the art of making sounds is at least as old as human civilization itself.
The expressiveness of music has been debated, though. Some musicians argue that this is a matter of conventional association. For instance, slow tempi are often associated with sadness, and musical instruments are associated with war. However, this theory is problematic, as there is no logical connection between the character of a piece and the emotional content of the music. This is an important distinction when evaluating the expressiveness of music. Whether or not music is “music” is a matter of taste.
Ethnographic studies have demonstrated that music is a participatory activity. Individuals experience music in various settings, from private moments to large concerts, and include both commercial and noncommercial participants. Moreover, music takes different forms and genres in different societies, and even within the same culture. For instance, in Europe, there is a distinction between high and low cultures. Nevertheless, there is a commonality among music and the expression of emotion.
For the most part, people who define music as a form of art are interested in its expressiveness. They emphasize the centrality of expressiveness in music, and assign less value to other aspects of music. This makes it necessary to understand how music affects the emotions, and how it is related to other forms of art. For instance, there are two kinds of high-culture musical styles. The first is the Western art-music genres, and the other is the classical genres.
The second type of musical genre is literature. In this case, the text provides the context for the music. It can convey a story, a love poem, or other emotions, such as grief. This is a very common situation in which people seek to express themselves through literature, and reading and listening to music is a way to express themselves in a meaningful way. But the interrelation of text and music is likely to be complex, so a composer must consider a variety of elements before they begin composing.
In addition to the musical aspects, music also has a sensual dimension. Kierkegaard believed that “music should be able to express itself in its immediacy and not be defined by language.” This definition is also supported by academics. The expression of music has a strong effect on people’s lives. It evokes feelings and reactions in them. Some people listen to music to express their feelings, while others listen to it to understand the story behind it.