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how hard can we try?


When does sound become music?

Someone recently asked this on a Fwonk board. It made me think about something I take for granted half the time, and have mixed feelings about during the other half. I'll give you my take, but first I wanted to select a couple of quotes.

"I think musicians need to strap on a pair of down-to-earth man-balls for a week or so and fix the leaky sink of indefinition of what it is they actually do: "

"To me it seems like you want there to be truths in language. Like you want the ideal to be that a word has an exact, constant meaning that everyone agrees upon. To me it's more interesting to see the language itself as an abstraction which can and should be interpreted in many different ways. "

"I don't like songs. Music is just organised noise, and noise is poison to the mind."

This is amazing. At the time of writing nobody has mentioned emotion. Before touching on that, I'm thinking if traditional cures are poisonous in large quantities, and if say most cures are small quantities of poison, then how about a bit of organised noise, indeed?

I want to throw a couple of words in the equation. They are: harmony, rhythm, arrangement, and emotion. All four are in the broadest sense possible.

So how hard are we trying to define everything around us and decimate something as big as music into words? Possibly if words could describe music, the latter wouldn't exist. But on the topic: when does sound become music? Here goes:

Sound becomes music the moment there's a touch of all four to it: harmony, rhythm, arrangement, and emotion. I said I talk about the broadest sense of these so imagine all the different levels on which harmony can happen. Within the spectrum. Within a single sound. Between sounds. Between the source and its environment. Now do the same for rhythm. Now think of arrangement. Now think any of all three existing in, and affecting, the others.

I find it a tad difficult already. Throw context on top of it (I'd argue all modern art builds on context, which is hilarious). My head hurts.

Give me a sound that has a touch of all three, and evokes emotion in me, or expresses somebody else's emotion in a way I can interpret. Manmade or not, I'd call it music any day. What do you hear?

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