What Is Music?


The greatest virtue of music is its unique union of matter and manner. The act of playing an instrument creates an atmosphere that is both invisible and tangible, yet it evokes many different emotions. A well-written underscore guides us through our emotional experiences. Music is everywhere: in stores, restaurants, sports arenas, and commercials. It grabs our attention through its catchy beats, and is played by the artists in order to keep us happy.

While a number of different traditions and styles exist within the field of music, the majority of musical pieces belong to one of two major categories: instrumental and vocal. Both instruments and the human voice can be used in composition, but the latter is considered more intimate and expressive than the former. There are even pieces that have no sound at all, akin to a poem’s triolet. This is the most common form of music. The difference between instrumental and vocal music is in the way they are performed.

Rhythm is another essential component of music. It provides physical vigor and diversity. Many classical and folk song forms are based on alternating groups of two beats, while other genres of music rely on a quarter note as the starting point. The rhythms of these pieces vary widely in terms of speed, complexity, and tempo, but they all follow the same basic principles. In general, musical rhythms can be categorized into two main types: duple and triple meter.

Some theories also define music in terms of genre. For instance, Charles Seeger described music as a system of communication involving the structured sounds of members of a society. Similarly, John Blacking defined music as a humanly-patterned, organized sound. Some theorists suggest that there is no single universal definition of music. But whatever definition we adopt, the fact that music is a form of communication is not irrelevant to its function.

Other terms are used to describe the elements of music. The elements of music include tempo, timbre, and articulation. Generally, they refer to the fundamental aspects of a piece of music that are necessary to become a professional musician. This is also called the “rudiments of music”.

Asian music comprises a wide range of musical cultures. A few of these cultures have an ancient history and have evolved into complex conventions. Whether these elements were introduced by foreigners or developed within the adopting culture, the evolution of music is shaped by the differences. For instance, Chinese music uses the pentatonic-diatonic scale. The key in both is A, while the other is B. The octave is A, C, or D.

Historically, the development of radio and the printing press made it easier and more affordable to produce printed sheet music. Previously, notated music was hand-copied and used in church services. The proliferation of notated music helped the spread of certain musical styles. Many singers and musicians joined the church, and their numbers grew. In spite of their popularity, the church continued to be the primary patron of music, and many composers began writing polyphonic sacred music in the 15th century.