Music Is a Unique Expression of the Human Condition

Topics: Culture, Human, Meaning of life Pages: 5 (1750 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Music is a unique expression of the human condition
Music is an extremely important part of human life and has been part of human life for thousands of years. Music can be linked with many different art forms such as art and language; these too are distinct expressions of humans. This particular expression has survived and outlived ancient languages and could possibly be older than any form of language we know. It also serves the same purpose as language, to convey meaning. Music is a way of bringing people together, and is used as a social ritual. In human life music is part of culture and it is also important historically. Music also contributes to the economy, as it is a means of making money as well as part of human leisure. It can be argued that humans are the only beings on the planet that make music. However, animals also create forms of music in order to communicate. Animals such as birds have long been described as having songs, along with whales which use a sort of music to communicate with others of their kind that are miles away. Both humans and animals use music as a method of social activity and communication. Jaap Kunst once suggested that humans imitated the songs and calls of birds, perhaps this is how music began. Music is used as a form of communication in television and film, as it is used to convey emotions to enable the audience to feel emotions such as fear or passion. It could be considered that music is genetically part of human beings as we instinctively react to music. Humans can recognise that minor keys imply a sombre tone while major keys imply happiness. It has been suggested that natural sounds made by animals are part of a universal music that provides an intuitive musical concept to both animals and humans. Only humans use music in a financially gaining way, most animals use calls and songs as a way to communicate or find a mate, whereas humans do not rely on music in this way. Musical materials include modes and scales; this is how much of music is structured. Different cultures have contrasting scales to the western Ionian scale. The Turkish Hijāz scale includes quarter tones, which sound foreign and discordant to other cultures’ ears. Sound therefore is organised into socially accepted patterns, music can sound completely different to someone who does not belong to that exact culture. Music is a cultural tool that helps arrange individual societies. Music has also been described as humanly organised sound. John Blacking has stated that there is so much music in the world that is can be seen as a specific trait of man, similar to that of language and religion. Humanly organised sound is a code constructed from organic materials into cultural materials. Humans also make instruments to create music, which also divides music making from animals. Instruments can be split into categories, such as Chordophones, stringed instruments that are plucked. Aerophones are instruments that are blown into to create sound. Membraphones are instruments with a membrane such as a drum, and Idiophones do not have a membrane like a rattle. Instruments are incredibly important historically as they are also used as artefacts. Some instruments found 57,000 years ago were found to be much more complicated than hunting tools, underling the importance of music even then. The San people, who were one of the first groups of humans to populate the earth, used a hunting bow which they also used for musical purposes. Instruments are a form of material culture and they are items of expressive culture. They have cultural value as well as commercial value, as they can be sold for money. Instruments can also define you as a person, such as ranking in society. Like in a western symphony orchestra, the first violinist is valued more than a second violinist. Music is a form of human behaviour as we naturally react to music. Some people associate music with religion, and sometimes directly link music to it. It is...
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