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Thread: Music as a global language. Looking for inspiration.

  1. #1
    Registered User joctavarium's Avatar
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    Music as a global language. Looking for inspiration.

    Hi, I'm going to make a speech at my school in two weeks. The speech is going to be about Music as a Global language and the connections you can make through music.

    The thing is, I would really appreciate some help with inspiration and also your thoughts about the subject.

    Thanks
    /J

  2. #2
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joctavarium View Post
    Hi, I'm going to make a speech at my school in two weeks. The speech is going to be about Music as a Global language and the connections you can make through music.

    The thing is, I would really appreciate some help with inspiration and also your thoughts about the subject.

    Thanks
    /J
    My personal take is that music is not a global language. It has dialects and regional boundaries just like any other language. Do not pressume everyone in the world is bound by familiarity to the western classical music of thecommon practice era.

    The other key difference is that music is hardly a language in any meaningful sense (although comparissons to language are often useful in music). My reason for holding this opinion is that music, normally, provides the infrastructure for the delivery of moods not for the exchange of information. In this sense it is no more a language than raising an eyebrow or sighing. Either one of these fails to communicate information, but in an appropriate context can convey a mood like "I don't believe you" or "I'm so tired of you going on and on about your silly opinions, bluesking". Of course you could call both of those gestures "languages" and that would be a valid opinion, but to me a lanugage needs to have the capacity to convey information like "There are 5 apples on that tree" & "My name is bluesking and I play guitar, which is a stringed musical instrument capable of playing the C major scale".

    Now, we could try to make music into a language as various cultures on earth have done. We could, for example, encode information into musical phrases by giving each pitch a symbological value and decoding the symbology on the receiving end. This is much that same as the way radios & computers work. But even this wouldn't constitute a language to me. Why? Because it is no longer a language but a medium. We would need our chosen symbology to carry some higher meaning (for example letters representing words in the English language).

    For music to trully be a language of any sort (let alone a global one) in my eyes it would need to be a self-contained system capable of conveying both information & mood with the ability to evolve as other languages do (words are created, words die).

    I expect none of this helps with your rather emotional and wishy-washy essay title so sorry about that. I imagine someone else will oblige you by spouting platitudes to the effect that "music will unite the world and all its people regardless of colour, creed or handicap hence eliminating all war & suffering with-a-cherry-on-top".

    As I have no idea who chose your essay title please don't see this as any attack on your views (whatever they may be) whatsover. I am simply musing on my own opinions.
    "Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar"

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    to me, music is universal language, because it is not really a language exactly. just like a picture is not, or a video is not.

    a smile is universal, even cross specie universal,m and so is a growl. music is this way. direct poath to emotions. it affects even the animals.

    different peoples have different styles, but music still, can be shown to another people and they need no translation. it migh seem really strange to them and maybe magical or evil because it is so different, just as any other cultural differences like dreess piercings, eating habits or whatever. but still the music is as it is for every language. i mean if we all spoke the same language, there would still be incorrect things to talk about in some cuiltures over others. even though the language is all the same.

    but cross culture, you can make someone sad, or whatever with music. our emotions are universal, and in most cases so are the ways in which they are produced. evolution did this. but also we have cultural differences between us that changes us a little.

    so definitely, universal for me, even cross specie universal. just like a smile or a growl or a tear. just like babies look cute no matter the specie, all these things that we share cross cultural and cross specie, our emotions. and music is, or at least usually is, a direct emotional connection.

  4. #4
    Registered User joctavarium's Avatar
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    Yes, i am quite aware that music isn't a language of words, but more so of emotions.
    & yes I do know there's a vast difference between western music and say arabic or asian music. But in a way we all can communicate through music. And "talk" to one another through the instruments.

    Example: 3 musicians, one arab one korean and one suede. even though they can't understand eachother through words they all can (if they are decent musicians) play together.

    That's what I mean't. Of course I'm not going to talk about uniting the world with music or something like that.
    I'm simply going to talk about how music can affect and connect us.

    Thanks for the posts though.

  5. #5
    Registered User Madaxeman's Avatar
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    The scientists in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" used music to communicate with the aliens at the end of the movie. Case closed.

  6. #6
    Registered User Madaxeman's Avatar
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    Seriously, though...
    I think music is an excellent medium to convey emotion. Film-makers have taken advantage of this to accentuate the emotional impact of a scene for example.
    English bands often have better sales in traditionally non- English speaking countries, so the music has to transcend there.
    It may not make me feel the same way you do when I hear a piece, but there is no doubt music elicits an emotional response.

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    Music and Emotions

    The most difficult problem in answering the question of how music creates emotions is likely to be the fact that assignments of musical elements and emotions can never be defined clearly. The solution of this problem is the Theory of Musical Equilibration. It says that music can't convey any emotion at all, but merely volitional processes, the music listener identifies with. Then in the process of identifying the volitional processes are colored with emotions. The same happens when we watch an exciting film and identify with the volitional processes of our favorite figures. Here, too, just the process of identification generates emotions.

    An example: If you perceive a major chord, you normally identify with the will "Yes, I want to...". If you perceive a minor chord, you identify normally with the will "I don't want any more...". If you play the minor chord softly, you connect the will "I don't want any more..." with a feeling of sadness. If you play the minor chord loudly, you connect the same will with a feeling of rage. You distinguish in the same way as you would distinguish, if someone would say the words "I don't want anymore..." the first time softly and the second time loudly.
    Because this detour of emotions via volitional processes was not detected, also all music psychological and neurological experiments, to answer the question of the origin of the emotions in the music, failed.

    But how music can convey volitional processes? These volitional processes have something to do with the phenomena which early music theorists called "lead", "leading tone" or "striving effects". If we reverse this musical phenomena in imagination into its opposite (not the sound wants to change - but the listener identifies with a will not to change the sound) we have found the contents of will, the music listener identifies with. In practice, everything becomes a bit more complicated, so that even more sophisticated volitional processes can be represented musically.

    Further information is available via the free download of the e-book "Music and Emotion - Research on the Theory of Musical Equilibration:

    www.willimekmusic.de/music-and-emotions.pdf

    or on the online journal EUNOMIOS:

    www.eunomios.org


    Enjoy reading

    Bernd Willimek, music theorist

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