Music is far more pervasive in modern society than the written word or the visual arts which include television, movies, painting, sculpture and street theater. Almost every art form uses music in some way.
Music is so important that even online casinos such as Grande Vegas Casino use music as a way to attract gamers. This phenomenon is now being studied as more and more people find entertainment, from a few minutes of playing to longer sessions, at the more convenient online casinos as opposed to the land based casinos that you have to travel to.
A Universal Form of Communication
Music communicates through tones and rhythm. W. Somerset Maugham said in his book, “Aspects of the Novel” that for Herman Melville, whose magnum opus, Moby Dick, is considered unreadable to modern sensibilities, “all was song”. In other words, the plot, characters, and other literary developments in the novel were secondary to the music created by the words and their cadence.
In a similar vein, some have said the Saul Bellow novel “Henderson, the Rain King” should be read out loud. It was written to tell a story using the same elements of sound that composers use in their creation of music.
Body and Movement
Music allows us to dance. Yet, in the movie, “Running on Empty” the brilliantly musical young student answered a question posed by his teacher about Beethoven: “you can’t dance to Beethoven”. This means that Beethoven’s music is a pure form of expression that can’t be perfectly interpreted in words, dance, or any other form.
Because it leads us to dance, music may be possibly the most important element at weddings. People dance at the background music at simple get togethers and parties.
Some dances are racy and some are simply intimate. The music sets the tone and is the true “leader” when couples dance. Many couples use the term “our song” to nostalgically remember those early romantic moments when they were just a young couple getting to know each other better. In most cases, the song they reference here is a song that they danced to.
Styles of Music
We might disagree about the different styles of music. Some people find classical music slow and boring while others find rap music impossible to listen to. Nevertheless, everyone would agree that music is an essential element of life and that without music we would be lesser for it.
There are so many different styles of music that no one can be well-versed in all of them.
No other art form has the unifying power of music. From the massive outpouring of teeny-bopper love to the Beatles to Woodstock and so many other examples, we find that music draws large crowds and that these crowds, however large they are, find a sense of community with other concert-goers.
An example from Israel serves to perfectly illustrate this point. As people gathered in the Haifa Auditorium for the monthly classical music concert, word passed among the audience that former Prime Minister Menachem Begin had passed away.
Beethoven’s seventh symphony was already scheduled to be the second piece in the concert and the conductor, orchestra, and concert managers all decide to make this symphony the first piece and to dedicate the second movement to the memory of the late Prime Minister.
People who attended that concert still talk about it as a highlight of all the concerts they have ever attended.
People delight in seeing trained or, better yet, untrained animals reacting to music. That some animals can find their own personal expression through music simply reconfirms that music plays a massively important role in everyday life.
This may be the most inclusive of all musical styles. Most people who enjoy folk music in one language can also enjoy it in other languages. Classical music may be a more pure form of music but folk music connects people to their national and ethnic histories.
Music can calm our tattered modern nerves. Thousands of years of human history prove this point as parents still sing soft and simple lullabies to their children. The music is not top grade but the calming effect certainly is.
As illustrious a scientist as Charles Darwin said that music had no discernible use for the survival of man. As such, it posed a challenge to his theory of the survival of the fittest. Darwin said that, “as neither the enjoyment nor the capacity of producing musical notes are faculties of the least use to man…they must be ranked among the most mysterious with which he is endowed.”
We might say that Darwin failed to see the emotional side of survival. He also didn’t know about the chemicals produced in the brain by positive stimuli. These endorphins produce both physical and emotional well-being.
So Darwin was right that music is a mysterious driving force of survival and as we learn more about it, we will better be able to see the evolutionary significance of music.
There is a low level of background music everywhere in modern life from elevators, to when we are waiting “on hold” on the telephone to offices. In an office, the background music may have the effect of distracting workers from their individual tasks.
Two other forms of background music that calms us, produce endorphins, and are universally loved are birds chirping unseen but easily heard in trees and the sound of the ocean or of water rushing generally. Many people say that they love to fall asleep to the sound of music on the radio or to the sound of soft rain outside.
In the foreground, music introduces tv shows. In many cases, we remember the music more than we remember the show itself. The introductory music is a form of entertainment independent of the show.
Imparting Sense to Words
The best songs are a blend of lyrics and music. Everyone has a short list of their favorite songs and we would expect that every song on everyone’s list of favorites is a perfect match of music and words.
Music cannot end pain but it can ameliorate pain. Music can lift up our mood even at the most sire moments.
The greatest of the ancient Greek philosophers, Plato said that music is a moral law. He said that music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind.