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Philosophizing on Music -- The Connecting Element

Updated: Feb 28

Music can be considered a form of communication if it involves one or more of the required parameters: melody, rhythm, tempo, instruments, and so on.

Take note that not all music has a melody, necessarily. Its absence does not, however, contradict other parameters.

If you can read notes fluently, you might not even have to be able to hear in order to understand music. Beethoven's a prime example.

There's something very mathematical and very technical in music that can be learned regardless of one's musical talents. I'm saying this as someone who took private piano lessons, even though I don't think I'm that good (I will put a link at the end for an example).

Of course, there is also a very emotional element in music, on which I'd like to focus in this article. Music seems to make us emotionally react, which is probably the main reason why we listen to it. It can make us happy, sad, excited, relaxed, and so on. That, I believe, is clear as day. But why, though?

Music can teach us the logical element that lies within cause and effect. We know that positive music can make us feel good, but why exactly? What makes the cause, cause the effect?

Hence, I described music as a style of communication, with or without lyrics. It, like any other interaction, provides us with sensory information that shapes our mentality.

It's strange because that information isn't exactly informative. It does not persuade us to be happy through logic, but rather through the fact that it exists and that we listen to it. At times, listening to upbeat music instead of being given reasons to be upbeat seems to suffice.

Have you ever thought about it?

That's why I think that music isn't completely bound to reason, or at least, our minds are not. Music is like a message without words; a message that still manages to deliver a reaction regardless of whether or not we have understood it.

I, for example, really like some music in other languages, especially old military marches in Russian and Japanese. While I never bothered to see their English translations, as I don't speak either language, I can understand the "spirit" behind them.

By "spirit," I refer to their "nature," their "atmosphere." You can understand the "spirit" of a military march without any previous background.

We can also share a common understanding of music based solely on our associations. I always thought that Mauritania's former anthem sounded very villainous.

When I looked for covers of it online, I found out that many think just the same, even though I don't know these people at all. Can this be regarded as an example of a collective unconscious?

And the last point of discussion: Tuning seems to have a critical effect on our mentality, regardless of the music in question. Apparently, most music today is tuned to 440 Hz, but if you listen to the same piece at 432 Hz, you might find yourself becoming more energetic and less exhausted, even if the piece itself isn't exactly relaxing!

How do I know this? I recently traveled through half of Israel with such music on. As someone who is usually fatigued by default, I've found out that music played at 432 hz has made the trip far, far more bearable (fatigue is why I don't travel often).

So, even though the influence of music over our lives is obvious and recognized, what might not be fully understood is the reasoning behind such influence in the first place. However, just because we might not be aware of it does not mean it does not exist.

Finally, remember that different people react differently to music. My mother told me that she used to play music when she was pregnant to develop my mentality. Perhaps, if I had not done so, I would not react to music the same way I do today.

I guess that, after writing this piece, I now know what my music teacher meant when she said, "Music is a universal language." We may not share our preferences, but we can certainly grasp a theme's essence more intuitively than in a philosophy article.

Thanks for reading!

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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