Music and Humanity

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Nick Keglovits
English 102-025
Argumentative Essay
12/11/09
Music and Humanity
2789 Words
“Music expresses that which cannot be said, and on which it is impossible to be silent” – Victor Hugo
Everyone loves listening to music. It seems that everyone I talk to has a favorite band, or at the very least, a favorite genre of music. On a dark and cloudy day, when a light rain is falling, there is nothing I would rather do than listen to “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson. No other thing, no other action, seems to fully encompass all of my thoughts and feelings; better yet, there is no better way to express them. There are certain styles, genres, and songs that are perfect for any emotion in any situation. Through sharing my attitude toward music with other people, I have come to the conclusion that, although seemingly impossible, it is possible to prove that music is an innate part of humanity.

I would like to take a moment here, and explain what I mean by music. Music is the appreciation for what we hear; whether it is a bird’s song, the rustle of leaves in the park, or seeing a rock band perform, people are listening to music. With this definition, we can agree that music is present around the world, and everyone relates to it. This is a sort of connection that all humans share. This human connection is key to understanding why people attach themselves to music so strongly—after all, how can someone performing their own songs reach out to a crowd of thousands? Humans are completely tied to music, and it shows. Music In Culture

To what extent is music apart of humanity? Music is so prevalent that entire cultures are recognized when a signature piece is heard. The bangs of percussion instruments can be heard deep in the heart of Africa, along with the Natives’ howls. The Chinese have characterized the plucked instruments with a heavy treble tone that comes with quick bends in pitch (Philmultic Management & Productions Inc.). Austrians come to mind when their folk music is heard, and whenever someone hears a quality yodel, they know its Swiss (Plantenga). These pleasant sounds have been ringing out of these countries for so long that the cultures are now globally recognized for them.

Having established that music is universal, it is important to more closely analyze a specific culture. What better than America, one of the biggest centers of pop music? The United States is a gigantic melting pot of different cultures, resulting in a rise of many different genres of music. The Beach Boys had a fun, upbeat, lively atmosphere, Stevie Ray Vaughan rocked the blues to portray the doleful side of life, and Elvis Presley gave us a revolution in music all together, with catchy tunes, and lovable lyrics. There is a wide variety of music in the American culture, and this variety causes a lot of people to love music.

However, the love for music does not go without its differences. For example, the foreign music of India is odd to the typical Western audience. Indians use different tuning that doesn’t sound quite right to the American audience. While American songs have a pattern that is repeated throughout, Indians lack chord progression in their songs. Also, Americans use their chest to resonate sound, while Indians have more of a whining tone in the back of their throats. Americans view these musical practices as strange; but, of course, they sound perfectly normal to someone that has been raised in that culture. It does not matter, then, what the music may be, but that the very existence of music connects humanity on a deeper basis (Schmidt-Jones). Neurology of Music

This connection runs deeper than you might think— music is physically engrained in us. From the time we are born, there are neurons that are specifically developed to register music. Our encounters and reactions to music connect with different regions in the brain, and this could possibly be why humans all feel, to some extent, the...
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