What Is Music?

Fuckit, I’m asking it. What is music? To you? To (other?) humans? In the universe? Discuss!

Statement of the evening to get that ball rolling: “Music is likr sound, but slightly different.”

good question, but i think it begins with rhythm.
means, no rhythm no music imho.
old tribes (is it the right word ?) already makes music and this was all about rhythm :)

My definition: Music is, quite simply, sound which pleases the ear.

John Cage separated music from sounds, in that he felt sounds didn’t convey a feeling, while music did… he said his favorite sound was silence because it had the ability to please him without feeling the unnecessary need to convey a feeling/story/emotion. His definition of silence though, consisted of all the noises you hear when music stops playing… the cars passing by… people talking in the distance… life. By his definition of sound (vs music), however, I would classify sound as music to him (in my definition) because he found it pleasing. Now that I’ve broken your brain, lets move on…

… Luigi Russolo felt that music was moving more and more towards emulating the everyday sounds we encountered in our lives… thus breaking the barrier of Cage’s segregation of music and sounds. Apparently Cage was unaware of this, even though Russolo was performing noise concerts when Cage was still a baby.

That all said, music is entirely relative… it always has been and it always will be. What one considers pleasing to the ear, another can consider boring and uninspired… or too harsh to find pleasing… or not melodic enough… or too random… or not “human” enough… or not “professional” enough… or too popular… or too underground… the list of criticisms goes on.

My question to you is: why question the nature of music? Why not simply let the muse work through you to let you show your idea of music to the world?

Everybody has a song to play… one the world needs to hear.

a 'meta’language used by some humanoids

nah, opera 10.50 alpha gobbled up my well thought out reply…



Sex is conformity.

Uhm well, ahem.

I think the gist was: 1.) there needs to be intention behind it for it to be music, 2.) you need to be able to recognize or at least feel the intention (or simply that it’s there, even if you can’t decipher it) for you to be able to consider something music.

Bird song may be music… to birds. Free jazz may be music to others. And so on. And I think it’s perfectly valid for me to say X is not music for me, even though it’s music for someone else. It simply means I am unable to recognize the intention or that there is one.

Obviously, for me to like music I guess I have to agree with the intention, or finding it enjoyable to explore it and/or disagree with it, and I dare claim that is generally true.

Mind you, that “intention” can also be purely reflecting something… it can be quite passive. It can be a lot if things, intention is the widest ranging word I could find, and no matter where and how often this subject comes up, I still think that is the single requirement. Rhythm and melody can be used to express intent/emotion, that’s why you commonly find them in music, not because they have any value on their own. But that’s just my totally not humble opinion, anyway ^_^

So you are saying music is this thing, existing independently of us? That it has a nature, and if we (who are outside of music, instead of music being a fraction of us) entertain thoughts and try to discern, we are somehow doing it wrong?


Fuck blindly obeying the muse - sometimes she comes as a vampire. Music is not somehow magical and beyond suspicion, fuck that very idea to hell.

Because music is people, and nothing but people. We should question ourselves and we should question each other. I have deleted many songs I once liked once I realized they’re actually just poison for my brain and soul – I don’t give a flying fuck if that is anyone’s idea of a song “they need to sing”, lol. Sorry for being so harsh, but, you know, I FUCKING LOVE MUSIC, and while I do respect others liking music I don’t like, I HATE it being put on a pedestal. It’s like someone wanting to turn a woman of flesh and freckles and sagging buttocks into a fancy idea, a piece of paper. Makes me furious every time :P

turn the fury into a song… :ph34r: ^_^

I do. Even my love songs are angry :unsure:

A pleasurable set of motifs when experienced fire electrochemical impulses across synapses & sensory neurons and then to the brain & spinal cord, that is my answer.

My first answer was I don’t know…probably the best answer as the scope and magnitude of what can be classified as music is staggering to say the least.

However, sometimes “I don’t know” is a cop out, so here it goes!!

Music is any collection of sounds with at least some degree of rhythmic or melodic content (a broadly subjective qualification of couse) that when listened to, by virtue of your attention to it, separates itself from the other sounds in your environment. Water dripping, poetry, trotting horses, classical music, a chugging train, electro, and someone had mentioned a bird singing etc.

I was not going add rhythmic or melodic content in my discription. I then thought of the sound of someone speaking to me in a dull and monotone fashion(monotone itself being a musical description, albeit of amusicality), which fits my above discription sans the musical requirement. I then thought my answer was too broad, however, someone else may call it music!

Maybe that is all that is neccessary, human identification as such!! If even only one person calls a collection or sequence of sound music then so it is!!

No, that’s not what I was implying at all. I understand entirely that music is meaningless without us… that it wouldn’t even exist without life (remember, birds to whistle melodies) … however, it also exists independently in the same way as other works of art once we release it into the world… it’s almost a metalanguage that we use to convey the undefinable… one that has different meaning to everyone that hears it.

It has a nature that we as humans define… nothing more than that.

Nope… my insinuation was actually that if we don’t tell the world our story, we’re not doing ourselves any good ;)

If the muse comes as a vampire, then that’s a reflection of your inner state. Music isn’t supernatural at all, though I would define it as very special and culturally important… it seems to me that you read way too much into what I said ;)


I can’t say I’ve ever done this with music I’ve made… but songs from other artists, I have deleted… I can’t say that any of the music I’ve listened to a lot has been mentally toxic… but then, I tend to be able to take in almost any media and not let it affect me so viscerally if I wish. That said, there’s also a reason I don’t listen to gangsta rap or country western music.

I’ll respond to this in a minute once I’ve had a chance to watch the vid

Johann: I respect music in the same way I respect free speech. I don’t always agree with what it has to say, but I respect that people have the right to say it… and I think they should say it. I think everyone should speak their mind, and not fear criticism, but instead, use it as an opportunity to learn, even if you’re simply learning that the person criticizing you is wrong :P

… same goes for music.

music is the universal language.

Syflom: If music is such a universal language, then how come everyone has a different interpretation of it? Music seems fairly babel to me.

I’m fairly sure music is a personal language… one which has different meanings for all who hear it.

Music is anything which is so obscure, fast and noisey that no one else likes it but me and therefore it makes me cool.

Sorry i could give a serious answer but i can’t be bothered right now. Shopenhauer had some interesting ideas about music as being a “mirror to the will”. I quite like the idea that music is in some way a crackling bubbling thing which describes the universe somehow on a micro-macro level. It’s the tone, the hum, the groove man; you gotta push that button.

There see, now i just sound like i took too much acid in the 60s.

I don’t necessarily think music have to please the ear. Best example I can think of is Stockhausen…