Defining Music From Music Theory Essay

The word music comes from the Greek mousikê (tekhnê) by way of the Latin musica. It is ultimately derived from mousa, the Greek word for muse. In ancient Greece, the word mousike was used to mean any of the arts or sciences governed by the Muses. Later, in Rome, ars musica embraced poetry as well as instrument-oriented music. In the European Middle Ages, musica was part of the mathematical, geometry, astronomy and musica. Other than that, many definitions of music implicitly hold that music is a communicative activity which conveys to the listener moods, emotions, thoughts, impressions, or philosophical, sexual, or political concepts or positions.

Levi R. Bryant defines music not as a language, but as a marked-based, problem-solving method such as mathematics (Ashby 2004, 4).Because of its ability to communicate, music is sometimes described as the “universal language”. Yet the “meaning” of music is obviously culturally mediated. For example, in Western society, minor chords are often perceived as “sad”, an understanding other cultures rarely share.

More precisely, “music is the actualization of the possibility of any sound whatever to present to some human being a meaning which he experiences with his body-that is to say, with his mind, his feelings, his senses, his will, and his metabolism” (Clifton 1983, 1). It is therefore “a certain reciprocal relation established between a person, his behavior, and a sounding object” (Clifton 1983, 10).

“Music, often an art/entertainment, is a total social fact whose definitions vary according to era and culture,” according to Jean Molino (1975, 37). It is often contrasted with noise. According to musicologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez: “The border between music and noise is always culturally defined-which implies that, even within a single society, this border does not always pass through the same place; in short, there is rarely a consensus.

2.1.1 Meaning of Music: A view from Music Theory

Meaning of music is a vast issue that straddles many disciplines including those of philosophy, psychology, semiotics, linguistics and acoustic, and it seems that there is undying enthusiasm for exploring why and how music is meaningful to human beings, why it is such a powerful personal and social phenomenon: and why we use it as a therapeutic tool. (Colwyn Trevarthen, p.18, 2000)

As music is meaningful for human beings, it can be relate to the music influence towards an individual. And in this particular research it is focus towards student lifestyle.

Music is not only about influence to the people but it is also a therapy for people.

Jean-Jaques Nattiez, the Canadian semiotician, opens his famous book, Music and Discourse (1990), with the following statement:

This book is based upon a hypothesis that I shall immediately state: the musical is merely what we used to call the ‘text’; it is not merely a wholly composed of ‘structures’ (I prefer in any case, to write of ‘configurations’). Rather, the work is also constituted by the procedures that have been endangered it (acts of composition), and the procedures to which it gives rise: acts of interpretation and perception. (p.ix)

Music is made under certain procedures which mainly refer to the composition of the music itself, then followed by process to enhance the quality of the music itself.

2.2 Types of Music

There are several type of music being exist in the world, however as listed below are mainly known or major type of music known by the people.

2.2.1 Hip Hop

Hip Hop is the most popular form of music. Coinage of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, a rapper. Hip Hop is composed of rapping and DJing. The term rap is sometimes used synonymously with hip hop music, though it is also used to refer specifically to the practice of rapping, which is just one component of hip hop. Typically, hip hop music consists of one or more rappers who chant semi-autobiographic tales, often relating to a fictionalized counterpart, in an intensely rhythmic lyrical form, making abundant use of techniques like assosance, alliteration and rhyme. Though rap may be performed acapella, it is more common for the rapper to be accompanied by a DJ.

Hip hop arose in New York City when DJs began isolating the percussion break from funk or disco songs. The role of the emcee (MC) arose to introduce the DJ and the music, and to keep the audience excited. By 1979, hip hop had become a commercially recorded music genre, and began to enter the American mainstream. It also began its spread across the world. In the 1990s, a form called gangsta rap became a major part of American music. The reason for hip hop’s rise was the decline of rock, funk, disco in the mid to late 70s. he 1980s saw intense diversification in hip hop, which developed into a more complex form. The simple tales of 1970s emcees were replaced by highly metaphoric lyrics rapping over complex, multi-layered beats.

The first rap records were actually recorded by live musicians in the studio, with the rappers adding their vocals later. Aside from hip hop’s great popularity, the genre has had an impact on most varieties of popular music. There are performers that combine either hip hop beats or rapping with rock and roll, heavy metal, punk rock, jazz. Hip hop has hundreds of major international magazines devoted to it, most famously including The Source and Vibe. In its early years, BET (Black Entertainment Television) was almost the only television channel likely to play any hip hop music; now, several mainstream channels such as VH1 and MTV may play more hip hop music than any other style.

2.2 Rhythm & Blues

Rhythm and Blues also known as R&B is a popular music genre combining jazz, gospel and blues influence. This kind of music is generally performed by the African American artists. This term was coined by the marketing team in the United States in 1947 by Jerry Wexler at Billboard magazine. In the 1970s, rhythm and blues was being used as a term to describe soul and funk.

Blues is a vocal and instrumental form of music based on the use of the blue notes and a repetitive pattern that most often allows a 12-bar structure. It emerged in African-American communities. The blues influenced later American and Western popular music. It became a part of jazz, bluegrass, hip hop and pop songs.

Rhythm is the variation of the length and accentuation of a series of sounds or other events. Rhythm involves patterns of duration that are phenomenally present in the music. It is most associated with music, dance and the majority of poetry. The study of rhythm, stress, and pitch in speech is called Prosody.

2.2.3 Jazz

Jazz is the art of expression set to music. Jazz is said to be the fundamental rhythms of human life and man’s contemporary reassessment of his traditional values. Volumes have been written on the origins of jazz based on black American life-styles. The early influences of tribal drums and the development of gospel, blues and field hollers seems to point out that jazz has to do with human survival and the expression of life. The meaning of jazz soon became a musical art form, whether under composition guidelines or improvisation, jazz reflected spontaneous melodic phrasing.

Jazz developed in the latter part of the 19th century from black work songs, field shouts, sorrow songs, hymns, and spirituals whose harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic elements were predominantly African. Because of its spontaneous, emotional, and improvisational character, and because it is basically of black origin and association, jazz has to some extent not been accorded the degree of recognition it deserves. European audiences have often been more receptive to jazz, and thus many American jazz musicians have become expatriates.

2.2.4 Country music

Any kind of Music is a form of art. Country music, the first half of billboards country and western music category, is a blend of popular musical forms originally found in the Southern United States.Many songs have been adapted to different country music styles. Few of the famous country style artists are Jim Reeves, Elvis Presley, Charlie Pride, Patsy Cline, Bob Williams; the most important instrument used in country music is the Guitar.

The songs of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the Sons of the Pioneers put the Western in Country and Western Music. Much of this music was written for and brought to the American public through the cowboy films of the 30’s and 40’s and were widely popular.

2.2.5 Rock

Rock (also known as rock ‘n’ roll) is a form of music that evolved in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Its roots lay mainly in rhythm and blues, country, folk, gospel, and jazz. The style quickly spread to the rest of the world and developed further, leading ultimately to modern rock music. And nowadays, rock is the dominant form of popular music in the world.

The term “rock and roll” now covers at least two different meanings, both in common usage. The American Heritage Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary both define rock and roll as synonymous with rock music. Conversely, defines the term to refer specifically to the music of the 1950s. For the purpose of differentiation, this article uses the latter definition, while the broader musical genre is discussed in the rock music article.

Classic rock and roll is usually played with one or two electric guitars (one lead, one rhythm), a string bass or (after the mid-1950s) an electric bass guitar, and a drum kit. In the earliest rock and roll styles of the late 1940s and early 1950s, either the piano or saxophone was often the lead instrument, but these were generally replaced or supplemented by guitar in the middle to late 1950s. The beat is essentially a boogie woogie blues rhythm with an accentuated backbeat, the latter almost always provided by a snare drum.

The massive popularity and eventual worldwide view of rock and roll gave it a unique social impact. Far beyond simply a musical style, rock and roll, as seen in movies and in the new medium of television, influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, and language. It went on to spawn various sub-genres, often without the initially characteristic backbeat, that are now more commonly called simply “rock music” or “rock”.

2.3 How music can influence student’s life style.

Rock is another type of music that had been criticized often by the media. They say that rock like bands like KoRn and Limp Bizkit give kids negative thoughts and make teens nowadays act out in violence. This however is not true. The only way rock influences teenagers in on what they wear. Kids that wear baggy pants, large shirts, and long necklaces with five inch pendants usually listen to rap. Teens that wear wide leg pants and torn up clothes usually affected from listen to alternative music. Lastly, teenagers who have pierced tongues, blue hair, and wear tight leather pants most likely will listen to rock music. Because rock had influences teens on what to wear, that does not mean that the kids will be violent. “Large clothes and pierced tongues are only ways to express oneself” (Smith 2). Smith obviously agrees and that the type of clothes does not make a decent teen turn bad.

2.4 The important of music among the students.

Music is important to most teenagers. It is a way to get away from all of lives problems. Music can gives teenagers a different way to think than the “normal” way to think. KoRn is one of the bands. Parents believe they are a bad influence on their children, but they only say that because they do not want to blame themselves for being bad parents and not being able to raise their child right.

Teenagers seek music as an outlet from problems in life, yet the media and parents believe that rap and rock music is to blame for teenager’s problems. Rap is being blamed for the murders and crimes in cities all over America. Rock is being blamed for giving teens evil thoughts mixed with hate. Rap lyrics are about the rappers societies problems. So if person does not like the lyrics, change the suburbs in large cities to make the lyrics better. A rock lyric is all about the soul. Lyrics from rock music are deeper than any other type of music out today. That is why the music is widespread. Music is the universal language, and that is why all music is important to someone.

Music also played an important role in learning and the communication of culture. We often use music to define our beliefs and convictions and are attracted to music which affirms and supports these beliefs and convictions (Michael Rich 3). Children’s television has used the combination of words, music and animation to promote learning for many years. Most parents seem to be concerned about what their young children hear and see, but tend to pay less attention to the unending media exposure that their children are confronted with daily as they grow older, especially music videos.

According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, music videos are the media of choice for many adolescents and they spend between three and four hours per day listening to music which includes radio, CD’s and music videos. Music helps adolescents define important social and interpersonal behaviors and can have impact on a teenager’s attitudes, beliefs and judgments. It affirms and confirms a teenager’s struggles, joys, sorrows, fears and fantasies (Michael Rich 3). Music is often a major part of a teenager’s separate world and it is common for them to get pleasure in keeping adults out or causing adults some distress with their choices. However, they don’t seem to be aware that music videos can have an influence on what they wear, how they act and what they think. Teenagers, in particular, look to media images for standards of dress, hairstyle, behavior and cultural practices (Burns & Martinez 1).

Musical intelligence is a way to awaken and stimulate memory and learning. Music is an effective memory aid (Anton, 1990). Students seem to enjoy music and it helps them relax and become more receptive to language learning. Anton also further points out that music combine the right hemisphere of the brain with the left hemisphere. The right side deals with creative activities,non-verbal and emotional processes while the left side governs specific verbal and logic-based learning.

While, music also helps lot in student’s academic performance. Music is a subject to be studied and appreciated as a separate skill, it can also be used as a means for acquiring other knowledge (Lazear, 1991). Singing can build student’s confidence by allow them to enjoy a degree of fluency in English before they have achieved it in speaking (Zatorre, 2000). Also, songs can be incorporated to all language skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking).

Using music in the classroom has its own beneficial purposes. Singing helps students to improve their pronunciation and stress (Wilcox, 1995). Students would feel happy as memory is generally associated with an emotion. Music can help them to learn structures and expressions far more complicated than they could learn through a grammar lesson which only involve verbal skills. Often not, students are able to improve their listening skills where words often rhyme or are repeated. They also may be able to remember what they have learned, and are able to call upon the material when needed as they begin to produce language (Newham, 1995).

Using music may also break the monotomy of the lesson where usually people have a 20 minute attention span and after the songs, students become more alert. With higher-level students, using very soft rainforest music helps their concentration and music without words is good for relaxation (Lozanov, 1978). Generally, listening to music in class requires engaged attention and in turn, both reflection and for the development of imaginative responses to what students hear and read (Dvorak, 1984).

2.5 Future of Music

From one point of view, the present age offers a moment of exceptional musical excitement and opportunity. With so many technical and stylistic alternatives at hand, plus a constant stream of technological advances opening up ever new areas of exploration , today’s composers would seem free to follow their imaginations at will, to the outermost reaches of what is musically possible. (Morgan Robert P., p488)

Music can be said to express the general spirit of an age, moreover, it cannot be expected to a mirror of consensus that does not exist elsewhere. At least until there is a profound shift of contemporary consciousness; it seems likely that music will retain its present pluralistic and uncentered quality. For music to change the world will have to change.

In a more specific view, music will change following the trend by its ‘users’. Thus, each type of music actually represent certain level age of an individual, whereby different age of person may have different ‘taste’ of music.

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