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Old 12-21-2010, 10:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Tao of Music

I don't even care if this kind of thread has been around before, I wanted a new discussion.

What is it about music that is so...I don't know...amazing? It's hard to put any sort of description to the feeling that hearing exactly what you want to hear at just the right time can produce. It's transcendental. No drug can produce that feeling. I still remember the first time I truly felt that. The music was no longer just good, it was speaking directly to ME. It was as if the powers that be decided to bestow upon me magical sounds that could make everything all better. After that, I was a junkie in need of a constant fix. Eventually, the normal stuff didn't do it anymore. I had to go deeper. I had to go weirder. I wanted sounds I had never heard before and I wanted them as often as I could get them. How does music do this? What is it tapping into? Does it have to do with my life experiences and aural memories - all meshing to give me the taste in music that I have? Is it the need to relate to other people? Or is music somehow tapping into a universal consciousness - a communicative phenomenon that we simultaneously have a subconscious understanding of yet have no clue about?

Regardless of the theory you subscribe to, music unites people. Dancing and rhythmic expression are the most primal forms of art. Only at a concert can you see thousands of people, all completely united under a common interest. It's my belief that if more people understood what music can do...if they just knew that there is something past the top 40 that would speak to them...the world would be a better place. There is a reason two people who meet each other and find they have similar music interests can become fast friends. Music has the power to heal, and as corny as that sounds I'm sure everyone here agrees. There have been countless days where the pressures of the world seem to build up and I can't take it anymore. I close my eyes, put on a record, and for half an hour just forget everything that is worrying me. I always feel better.

That's where the Tao of Music comes in. For those who don't know Tao means the way. The Way of Music. Only through feeling and experiencing music can we know the way. That definitely describes exactly how I feel about music. Music is more or less my religion. Basically, I wanted this thread to discuss the philosophy of music. What brings you back? Why do you think we react to music in the way we do? From a completely practical standpoint, music can be seen as nothing more than a waste of time yet thousands of people dedicate their lives to making it. Why?

Go anywhere with this, please. There has been a giant lack of interesting discussion here on the boards recently, so I wanted to bring it back to the basics. No styles, no genres...we are just trying to figure out music. Annnnnnd begin.
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Old 12-21-2010, 10:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm not sure what exactly makes music great. maybe it's the fact that music is made by people, and those people put real emotion and feeling into the product they are making, therefore it's relatable and relevant to certain people who happen to be sharing the same emotions at the same time. Maybe it's the fact that music is a universal language of sorts, and even if you can't express your feelings to someone using words, you may be able to using music.
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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See, that's exactly what is so intriguing. It's just a pattern of sounds at different frequencies...what gives it the emotional pull that we all feel? People can relate on an emotional level to music...but why?
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by duga View Post
See, that's exactly what is so intriguing. It's just a pattern of sounds at different frequencies...what gives it the emotional pull that we all feel? People can relate on an emotional level to music...but why?
In primal man, sounds would give extra insight on what's around you. You may not know what a sound is, but you need a reaction. Lets say you're wondering around in the forest with nothing on but a torn up animal hide. You hear a big sound, it creates fear, because it's something big like a predator you might need to run from. You hear the sound of trickling water far away, it calms you, because you know you might be near somewhere safe for survival.

Music very much imitates nature. Maybe it's just a way to communicate our experiences to each other in a way that we felt the experiences. Maybe to warn, or to educate as a whole of how we translate feeling them.

I don't know the scientific validity of this. Just my initial hypothesis.
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Old 12-21-2010, 12:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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In primal man, sounds would give extra insight on what's around you. You may not know what a sound is, but you need a reaction. Lets say you're wondering around in the forest with nothing on but a torn up animal hide. You hear a big sound, it creates fear, because it's something big like a predator you might need to run from. You hear the sound of trickling water far away, it calms you, because you know you might be near somewhere safe for survival.
That actually makes a lot of sense to me. I've always wondered what gives a particular sounds it's emotional power (like minor chords being very sad sounding, for example). I guess it's how we evolved and the reaction we have to the ambient sounds around us.

I wonder if there was some giant beast that ran around belting out major chord sounds we would all associate major chords with fear.
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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That actually makes a lot of sense to me. I've always wondered what gives a particular sounds it's emotional power (like minor chords being very sad sounding, for example). I guess it's how we evolved and the reaction we have to the ambient sounds around us.

I wonder if there was some giant beast that ran around belting out major chord sounds we would all associate major chords with fear.
Probably. Music imitates nature, nature doesn't imitate music. Maybe a Sabretooth Tigers roars sounded like thrash riffs. That'd be interesting.
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That also must be why the music that makes us feel euphoric is different for each person. The sounds associated with each person's happy moments all mesh to form each person's preferred styles and genres.
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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A great thing about music is that you can get lost in its ideals and its endless possibility for new ideas, and shut off the world around you. And if a record is charismatic enough and the artist is expressive enough it can rub off on your behaviour, outwardly and mentally. Far example, I could be nervous about going on a date, running over possible disasters that might happen in my head, but then I put on Up the Bracket by the Libertines and hear the shambolic carefree spirit of the album and the way they're cheeky chappie confidence shines through every note, and it's a feeling that I'll try to digest and take with me as it transmits. I'm sure stuff like this happens to most people. There's of course lots more emotions and behaviour that music can inspire. Why does it do this? I don't know, I'm not smart enough to think of any scientific reasons. I'll try to think of stuff to add when I'n not feeling so brain mushed.
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Interesting topic!

Quote:
Originally Posted by duga View Post
From a completely practical standpoint, music can be seen as nothing more than a waste of time yet thousands of people dedicate their lives to making it. Why?
It is so painful to even see music being called a waste of time! But I do understand the point you're making about practicality. I guess that is why many people are happy enough with music merely being a part of their background. This would be the same majority of people out there who will turn on any junk on Top 40 radio and leave it on at a low volume and talk over it.

Whereas, people like us will go deep into the songs and feel a strong connection to either the music or the lyrics or the vocals etc. Personally, I think it is something that is possibly wired deep in our genes or DNA. I'm not saying that we are born music addicts but there has got to be something in us that is receptive to the parent or older sibling or friend who wants to get us into any particular kind of music when we are young. And we latch on, discovering more and more, digging deeper and deeper until the sense of appreciating music becomes totally ingrained in our very being, deep inside our permanent memories. Music becomes so much a part of the kind of person we are that we cannot comfortably function without it! I don't know if I'm making any sense at all but it felt good writing all that.
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Old 12-22-2010, 04:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duga View Post
What is it about music that is so...I don't know...amazing? It's hard to put any sort of description to the feeling that hearing exactly what you want to hear at just the right time can produce. It's transcendental. No drug can produce that feeling. I still remember the first time I truly felt that. The music was no longer just good, it was speaking directly to ME. It was as if the powers that be decided to bestow upon me magical sounds that could make everything all better. After that, I was a junkie in need of a constant fix. Eventually, the normal stuff didn't do it anymore. I had to go deeper. I had to go weirder. I wanted sounds I had never heard before and I wanted them as often as I could get them. How does music do this? What is it tapping into? Does it have to do with my life experiences and aural memories - all meshing to give me the taste in music that I have? Is it the need to relate to other people? Or is music somehow tapping into a universal consciousness - a communicative phenomenon that we simultaneously have a subconscious understanding of yet have no clue about?
This is indeed an interesting topic and a question that every lover of art will eventually ask. It can be applied to all arts and is a question of aesthetics and by that I mean a philosophy branch. I find Skaligojurah's sort of anthropological view interesting and Musikwala mentioned genes and DNA. This scientific view of things can only get you so far, and it is my firm belief that this question is beyond its reach. But I won't turn this into a too general topic with such broad, but essential aesthetic questions like: what is beauty? or what is beauty in art? What is especially interesting to me here in duga's OP is: "What is it about music...?" and "it was speaking directly to ME"

Now, I love visual arts and having studied art history I should have some deeper understanding of them (well, I hope). I also LOVE films. But, never have any film, a painting, a novel or a poem had such immediate and profound effect on me like some pieces of music. Music speaks directly to me. It feels more personal than other arts, our experience of it is more subjective. That doesn't mean it can't be valued objectively, of course it can like any other art, bit it's more than likely that our raw emotions will be the first judge of it. That's why when people fight (I mean debate ) over music they are very passionate.

Music is the only art that so easily skips our cognitive side and hits directly to the feelings, intuition, inner drives etc. Our perception of the world is also colored with emotion, but this emotional side of perceiving is much stronger connected to the sense of hearing than seeing. The very nature of music, operating with sounds, is that it spreads through intangible time. As such it's abstract and elusive, it doesn't have a subject or a theme like narrative and 'showing' arts have (I'm talking here about pure music). Another interesting thing, since music doesn't occupy space it's hard to 'see' it as an object, or to use spatial term, there's no distance between listener and music. That's why it's easy to lose yourself in music, to absorb it in such a way that it becomes a part of you, when you no longer distinguish between sounds and emotional response. This is a quality that every music has, except with truly good music you have to make a greater mental or spiritual effort in connecting between sounds and layers of musical structure. You become a part of a creative process and thus you feel a reward on much deeper levels.
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