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Philosophizing on Music -- The Connecting Element

Updated: Apr 30

Music as an Abstract Language

Music is often described as a universal language, as it is capable of crossing several cultures at the same time, but what exactly makes it so? Can we truly consider it communication if it lacks spoken words or concrete imagery? This article explores the idea that music, can be a powerful form of communication through specific interactions of elements, even without a traditional melody. And thus, it can be quite a powerful tool that can alter mindsets practically and as such bias it as presented with the language bias, although quite differently.

While melody is can be considered as the "soul" of music, its absence doesn't necessarily negate its communicative power. Rhythm, tempo, instrumentation, and even silence all play crucial roles in conveying emotions, altering moods, and telling stories.

A heartbeat-like drumbeat can evoke tension, a soaring string melody can express excitement, and a somber piano solo can speak of profound sadness. These elements, when expertly combine together, form an organization of meaning that transcends the barriers of any spoken language. And that indicates the fact that we have intuitive knowledge of music that exists even before we are born.

Logic of Music: Data For the Mind, Not Just the Senses

Furthermore, the ability to understand music isn't solely reliant on our ears. For those who can "read" music fluently, the score itself becomes a silent dialogue, as if one is reading a an actual book. The placement of notes on a page, the symbols and their length and emphasis, all resonate with a mental plan... or in other words logical reasoning. As such, the quality of music can also be determined by the level of its profound logical composition.

When it is not "logical" enough, its quality is reduced. And by "logical" I refer to its ability to deliver exactly what it means to deliver, similarly to the spoken and written word. Because when you don't make sense in your words, you fail to be logical. Apply the same to music to see what I mean. After all, a great composer is to music what a great writer is to words. Numbers, words and notes are but codes we create, dechiper, and apply. It's a very cognitive thing, and necessarily so.

As even in the absence of sound, Beethoven, who composed some of his greatest works after losing his hearing, stands as a testament to a few insights:

  • Music requires rules.

  • Music requires knowledge.

  • Music can be written like words.

  • You can do and aquire all of these without the current need to be capable of hearing.

There's an undeniable technical and mathematical dimension to music, a set of rules and structures that can be learned and mastered without the necessity of empricism. This intellectual aspect, regardless of one's innate talents and personal experiences, allows us to appreciate the universal complexities of music, and to better decipher the hidden and symbolic messages encoded within its rhythms and harmonies.

Even those who wouldn't consider themselves "musical" can find joy and understanding in the logic and beauty of musical composition. And as such, music could be universal in its connection to humanity because it appeals to us intuitively. And it is evident in the fact that our minds are wired to be lazy, intuition is a more common approach to shared understanding of communication.

The Emotional Power of Music

And it is due to the intuitive-emotional aspect of our mental lives (the right side of our brains), that music captivates us like no other medium. We readily acknowledge its emotional impact, its ability to launch us like missiles, from joyous heights to melancholic depths and everything in between. But within undeniable influence, a question arises: Why? What "magic" these intricate patterns of sound hold such potent emotional weight?

Let us, then, further delve into the enigmatic allure of music, focusing not on the "what" but the "why." Music, I propose, transcends mere communication, and surely it does the interactions of numbers; it's a language of feeling, capable moving more people than a mathematic equation or an emotionless philosophy article.

While logic dictates that upbeat music should spark joy, the exact mechanism remains shrouded in mystery, adding further to its interest as all mysterious concepts. Why does this carefully arranged sequence of notes elicit a flood of dopamine, making us feel like we're living and not just alive? The "why" remains elusive, yet the "what" is as clear as day – music shapes our mentality with every note, painting emotional landscapes onto the canvas of our being.

This sensory information, though devoid of concrete reasoning, bypasses the logical pathways of the mind and speaks directly to the heart. Upbeat tunes don't need intellectual arguments to induce cheer, nor to convince the crowd what they're trying to convey as with the complex of the former. No. Their mere existence, when applied to listening experience, suffices. It's a testament to the raw power of music, its ability to bypass logic and tap into the intuitive self.

This intuitive self, by the way, has been attributed spiritual traits, such as being a hive for much untapped knowledge and power that lies beyond physical existence. True or not, the intuitive self is also known as our true selves.

Which could indicate that music has the power to resonate with our true selves as well, potentially unlocking much other-wise locked power within us. Those who believe in the law of attraction, for example, believe that this special aspect of the self can manifest desires into reality.

So, with the powers that do exist within the intuitive/true self, can somehow be interacted with, the more resonated we feel when we listen to certain music, at certain times, indicating the self... itself.

Universal Symphonies, Personal Dances

My own experience with Russian and Japanese military marches exemplifies this beautifully. Though the words remain beyond my grasp, the "spirit," the "atmosphere" of these anthems resonates deeply within me – a shared understanding born not out of language or common culture, but of the inherent emotional language of music itself.

This collective intuition extends beyond individual experiences. Our shared perception of Mauritania's former anthem as "villainous", despite language barriers, hints at a deeper connection, perhaps even a glimpse into the collective unconscious that unites us all.

Even seemingly subtle aspects like tuning hold surprising sway over our emotions. Tuning at 440 Hz, the current among orchestras, might be the familiar soundtrack of our lives, but venturing into the realm of 432 Hz unlocks a "hidden door", altering our heart rate.

The subtle shift in frequency, as I discovered during a cross-country journey, can infuse even unassuming melodies with a surprising surge of energy. However, while scientific research seem to debunk it, it fails to negate the profound influence music wields over some of our well-being. It serves as a potent reminder that just because something eludes complete or universal understanding, it doesn't negate its existence or its impact on personal testimonies.

As such we must remember the deeply personal nature of this emotional dance with music. Music, indeed, is a universal language, not of words, but of feelings, resonating within us each in our own unique way. But let us not forget the fact that we all have these relationships with certain pieces of music, which are unique to us and us alone, even.

In conclusion, music's ability to convey emotions, tell stories, and evoke deep responses within us through its various parameters establishes it as a powerful language in its own right. Whether we hear it through our ears or "read" it with our eyes, music speaks to our hearts and minds, connecting us across cultures, languages, the senses -- and even our intellects.

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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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