Thursday, March 11, 2010

What makes music music?

So last night I went to the Philosophy club meeting at UK and learned two very important things.

1) Just because a guy looks like a total tool when he walks into the room doesn't mean he is.

2)Music isn't music without people.

What i mean in point 2 it that if there weren't any people there wouldn't be any music. I know that seems like such an inane and completely obvious point. But it leads me to another conclusion. There is no objective standard in music.

Music is something that can't, and shouldn't, be thought of as having some objective quality which separates it from the noises all around us. Just because things aren't repetitive or repeatable doesn't mean they're not music. For instance, 4'33" is a piece which is made of nothing more than ambient noise. (And if August Rush has taught us anything it's that the music is everywhere all we have to do is listen.) It's a piece that is music simply because there are other people present. This brings me to another subpoint about music: Music is inherently communal.

What that means is that music, while it can be an intimate and private thing that you can enjoy on your own, is best used when you're sharing it with others. As a friend of mine has said, "Music is like bottled emotion" And in this bottled form it becomes easy to share with others. Like poetry or theatre or film or books or blogs or essays or things written on the bathroom walls, music is a dish best served to someone else. It's a way for us to take the passions of another and express them as our own. Or, for us as musicians, to bottle those emotions and share them whenever we'd like.

If you really think about it what's the point of making music if no one but you hears it?

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