“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music” – Aldous Huxley
Halisi. Cerddoriaeth. Glazba. La musique. Musik. Musica. The word makes no difference as they all refer to the same language. Music. Derived from the Greek mousike meaning “the art of the Muses”. There are as many different forms of music as there are instruments it is played on. It defines nations, cultures and individuals alike. It can be organized, improvised or indeterminate; classical, popular, indigenous or folk. In whichever form, there is a beauty and a magic to it that, from it’s ability to stir emotions to a mathematical connection.
Our lives are filled with music; to fill awkward silences, to act as a social glue, to soothe a restless baby, to woo and romance a lover, to excite and inspire, to console and ease. But what is it about this magical art that affects us so? Why does music, possibly above all other artforms, have such an undeniable and intense influence on ourselves and our cultures?
It has the ability to stir feelings in the most immovably reserved individual. A simple melody makes us feel things. A lyric, a song can alter our emotions, change our moods, give us goosebumps (a physiological reaction).
A great deal of this can be explained by cognitive neurologists. Musician and producer Daniel Levitan researched this and wrote a book “This is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a Human Obsession”. In it he explores a number of interesting points regarding how music is hard-wired into us, both culturally and even evolutionarily, arguing that the very way we appreciate music is adaptive.
But though the scientific theories can further our understanding of the mechanics behind it, it still doesn’t suffice to explain that “goosebump effect”, or the exhiliration from a live concert, or the serenity from a Beethoven symphony. Music is connected to our very souls, it makes us feels things difficult to put into words. It’s an escape, giving us a feeling that there’s something more to life than the daily grind. Perhaps explaining it, figuring it out, labeling it and placing it in a box will ruin it. That is, if it can be explained at all. Which it probably can’t. And definitely shouldn’t.
“My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary” – Martin Luther