What would life be without music?
The world would be a very quiet place. Music is in many ways the fabric of our lives and the definition of society. It is a reminder of how things once were, an indication of how things are, and a view of where society is headed. Music is a direct reflection of the picture of society. Music can be a way to deliver messages, a poetic medium, a fine art, or nothing more than a source of entertainment. No matter what it is used for, music is the perfect art and our lives would be that much less complete without it that life as we know it would not at all be the same without music. Music is the perfect art. It has movement, because it progresses over a set period of time. All musical works have a beginning and an end. However, music does not restrict the audience in the way that movies or graphic art does. The listener can create whatever image she or he wants to when listening to music. It is an art that appeals to the conscious mind, but the best music also appeals to the subconscious. No thought is required to enjoy good music, though it is often thought-inspiring. Instrumental music does not bind the listener into a fixed template in the way that literature and poetry do: the reaction to music is different from person to person. Although it is probably the most difficult to produce the desired imagery in instrumental music, it can be done. BeethovenÕs Opus 27, Number 2, Piano Sonata No. 14, First Movement gives the image of a tired old man writing by the light of the moon and his passion without using any words at all. Music with lyrics is often referred to as “words set to music.” This is not always the case. Sometimes it is more accurate to refer to music with lyrics as “music set to words.” This form both widens and restricts the composerÕs artistic range. Lyrics make it easier for composers to bring out their main ideas without expressing them in notesNnot all composers have the power of Beethoven! However, they restrict the images of the musical work in the same way that prose and poetry limit their subject. Whether instrumental or lyrical, music comes from the people and can enlighten us all. It was during the 1960s that the social revolution and the struggles for civil rights inspired such musicians as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Joan Baez to write songs of protest. In turn, the music of these artists, and many others, influenced the younger generations and spread the word of the revolution. Without music, many teenagers of the time would not have been given the influence of the time or its associated mentality. Music was, and continues to be, a kind of social education to the younger generation. Teenagers turn to popular music for their philosophies and get a sense of their place in the world. In fact, cliques of young people are often defined by the music they listen to: “punks” listen to punk rock and heavy metal; “nerds” are reputed to listen to classical music; the “in” crowd listens to the latest material alternative music has to offer; the “loners” listen to obscure pop artists or classic rock. Youth culture would be much less vivid than it is if the world had no music. Generations would not be sparked to action without music. The war drums of primitive peoples were a kind of music. It was they that stirred the Cavemen and the Vikings to participate in decade-long wars. MusicÕs social influence is ever-present. Our society is shaped by it. Not only is music the chisel of society; it is a constant thread that runs through nature. Music is everywhere: the sound of falling water, the rustle of leaves underfoot, the call of wild birdsNeven the sound of rush-hour traffic is a kind of music. The common definition of music is “a series of pitches and rhythms that have an overall coherence.” This definition is limited to man-made music. “Synthetic” music is really just one kind of music. The sounds of nature are all part of the greater Music of the universe. Man-made music is entirely influenced by the true music of nature. The pulse of the heart is the constant bass drum. The sound of walking feet is the alternating snare drum. The rustle of leaves in the wind is the highest string section. A riverÕs flowing sound fills out the harmony. The Symphony of Nature is the mother of manÕs own music. The absence of the greater Music cannot be considered. Music is the Universe. The idea of an absence of man-made music would be almost as inconceivable. For humans to create music is inevitable. It is as natural as thought. With mankind being surrounded by natureÕs Music, he has no choice but to make music of his own. Therefore, the idea of a world without music is highly hypothetical. One would sooner consider a life without experiences or a year without days. A day in a world without music might proceed like this: One would awaken to the sound of a radio announcer speaking about politics. On the way to work, the radio show would consist of interviews with famous personalities. The work day would be terribly boring, since the office would not have any decorations (these would have been made by artists who had been influenced by music). That evening, the television commercials would have no jingles, only women promoting kitchen cleaners in white kitchens. The contestants of Jeopardy! would write down their questions for Final Jeopardy in complete silence, without the famous tune. The evening movie would be almost mute. It would seem to be like a silent film, with no incidental or theme music to augment the otherwise bland actors. In the restaurant, the date would be boring and unenlightening. Neither he nor she would be able to come out with any remotely intelligent ideas without music in the background to keep the brain working. The nightÕs dreams would not be scored with a happy tune or a slow nocturne. They would take place in silence, a drab, dark world of nothing. This “world without music” seems to have incoherences and cracks in it. It does not make sense and does not quite explain itself. Music is essential for the world to even make sense. It is as fundamentally inherent as gravity is in the universe. Any attempt to restrict or control music, such as is made in communist politics, is both vain and unrealistic. One cannot challenge the broadloom of the universe when making political policies! To think that the natural urge to create music in the image of the greater Music can be repressed is an exercise in na*vetÅ½. Music is societyÕs mark. The history of human musicians is rich, and has many fine people lining its ranks. Music has changed the artistic and non-artistic world immeasurably, such that a world without music is nothing more than a terrifying fantasy. The very prospect is difficult to consider. A world without music would be a quiet place indeed.
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