Music has long been a central element of human culture. It permeates all levels of society. It has a wide range of uses, including religious ritual, drama, geriatrics, and psychotherapy. Besides arousing emotions, it can also help people integrate and fulfill their life purposes.
Music has been used as a metaphor, a sign, and a means to convey ideas. However, in recent times, many have questioned its importance, particularly in the light of the increasing recognition of the emotional power of play. There has also been controversy over the nature of music theory, which has been highly controversial in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
One way of understanding the nature of music is to consider the various theories of music theory that have emerged throughout history. These theories can be divided into three main groups, namely: formalists, expressionists, and non-referentialists. While the latter two theories have often been called absolutes, they are not opposed to the inner meaning of music. They hold that the essence of music is rhythm, which has a universal character.
Another theory holds that music is a spatially structured, abstract art. This viewpoint is referred to as the physical view. This viewpoint, like the constructivist, asks the question: what is the meta-substance of music?
While the first philosophers did not have a precise understanding of how to conceptualize music, most of them agreed that it is an auditory phenomenon. They also believed that it was composed for harmony and emotional expression. The Greeks, for example, argued that it echoed the harmonious movements of heavenly bodies.
In the third century, Plotinus proposed that works of art contain a measure of truth. He also saw music as a department of ethics. Aristotle thought it could express universal concepts and imitate a divine harmony. He believed that music could be a good source of enlightenment and that it could influence and mold the human character.
Aristoxenus, a pupil of Aristotle, was a detractor of acoustical considerations and argued that music was the expression of emotion. He gave credit to human listeners, though.
Rene Descartes viewed the basis of music as mathematical. He thought that the elements of music, such as tone, melody, and rhythm, were analogies to the physics of the universe. He advocated the use of vocal music, not instrumental music.
Some scholars, such as Edmund Gurney and Theodor Adorno, incorporated a number of formalist, symbolist, and expressive elements into their theories of music. They tended to avoid the more difficult logical problems of music, focusing instead on the emotional impact of music.
Friedrich Nietzsche believed that music could be a vehicle for myth making. In the 19th century, a number of philosophers discussed the nature of music and its relation to art. While most agreed that it was an auditory phenomenon, they disagreed about its nature and value.
Historically, music has been a major adjunct to drama and ritual. In addition, it has a wide following, with a large number of musicians competing for the same space. Popular genres include rock and soul, which have distinct rhythmic and modal characteristics. The lyrics of these songs are usually highly emotional.