Relationship Between Music and Language

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For centuries, the definition of music is keeping changing. People feel and express their own feeling through the combination of numerable notes but produce a variety of masterpieces. The function of music interests scientists a lot and is explored by folks in different aspects. To know more about it, a contrast is also made between music and other art form. The relationship between music and language is a controversial issue and it will be the topic of this article. Some scholars show the view that music is definitely a form of language for we use both to communicate and to express thoughts and feelings. Meanwhile, others show a totally different viewpoint, they said ‘ the idea that music is anything like language is ridiculous. True, both music and language express feeling and emotion. But language, unlike music, is designed to communicate specific thoughts from one individual to another. Thoughts have words which have their own meaning; music has tones which have no means by themselves.’ Without doubt, both point have their support. The emphasis of the present article will be on these two views. Firstly, the first voice. About the first half sentence, I hold a questioning attitude. Review the long history of the development of music, from the a cappella in Middle Age period until the rock music in 20th century, music and language has an inseparable connection. Facing the similarities between them two, people even can’t distinguish them and come to believe that they are (almost) the same thing (Patel, 2008). We can notice that in the prospectus of 2008 Dijon conference, it indicated, ‘the similarities between those two activities are therefore not superficial: music and language could be two expressions of the same competences for human communication ( Jackendoff, 2009).’ In Rousseau’s theory, he thought that music was developed before the language and the latter was a subspecies. As a great philosopher, people believed that although he might have been ready to recognize that such a historical explanation was really a rhetorical device, there is also an insight there we should eventually acknowledge (Indov, 2005). That means, it exists a possibility that the containment relation between music and language can be that the former includes the latter. Further more, if relationship in the first view comes into existence, the function the music has will also prove the values of language and people gain the skill of feeling the music after knowing the language. Obviously, it is false. Just one example can give evidence that the specific qualities the music therapy have give people chance to express themselves and communicate in a non-verbal way – even in a situation that they cannot find the word to describe their inner experiences. In other word, music is has its own characteristic that the language lacks of. What’s more, with a variety of research and study, scientists proved that the large part of the left hemisphere of the brain controls speech function and language comprehension, while general music ability resides in the right (Helding, 2010). This denies the containment relationship between music and language in another way. A conclusion summed up by Jackendoff said that at the moment we do not have a properly laid out account of even one other capacity against which to compare language and music, so no relationship can be definite so far ( Jackendoff, 2009). However, I agree with the latter part of the first view. Although by all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be, we cannot deny the thoughts and feeling, which are showed from those pieces of songs, are natural emotions (Nattiez, 1990). As futurities, when hear those masterpieces, naturally, we try to explore predecessors’ feelings in order to appreciate the classics in a proper and right way and it is because we believe that creatures never hide their true emotions under the notes and the melodies can give...
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