The Purpose of Music
Music is an expression of sound organized through time. Music is created, recreated, and/or utilized by humans and other animals (birds and whales). Any event involving music is a musical experience. In the case of humans, musical experiences, often in conjunction with other mediums like literature and visual arts, are created, recreated and/or utilized (purposes):
Important points about purpose to consider:
- to enhance an environment
- to share a message
- for creation/recreation
- for movement
- for worship/meditation
- for an aesthetic experience
Important points about purpose to consider:
- All music enhances the environment. However, certain experiences are informed by music that has been more specifically created or utilized to enhance the environment in a given manner. (Ex. Background music utilized at a social gathering or music composed (created) as a backdrop to a scary movie scene.)
- All performances of music are either creative or "recreative."
- Aesthetic experiences are most informed by the beauty and craftsmanship of a musical work.
- Though all music is expressive, not all music intends to express or share a message. Most popular and folk music, regardless of world region, aims to share a message or provide impetus for movement.
- The aims of worship and/or meditation are not musical. Music is created, recreated and/or utilized within the practice of worship and/or meditation to reach some deeper level of spiritual or sacred awareness.
- All music happens through time. Thus, rhythm (time) is an absolute of music. Other absolutes are the presence or absence of sound and the organization of sound through time (by the creator and/or listener). Though all music happens through time, rhythms themselves are often employed in a miscellaneous number of ways to achieve a variety of goals. Movement is informed directly by rhythm. However, different cultures, time periods and social backgrounds often become accustomed to moving to specific rhythmic practices over others. This is not to say that an individual can or will not move to the foreign rhythmic practices created of a distant culture, but that most individuals, through exposure and repetition, are likely to reflect the movements and rhythmic practices of their time and place.
- Pitch-group practices (e.g. the twelve notes of our Western culture) are specific to the culture from which they originate. There is no right set of pitches. However, like rhythms and movements, certain systems of pitch relationships become so widely used and reused that foreign systems might at first sound odd or out of tune to the naïve listener. This also applies to harmony (as it is just a simultaneous performance of more than one pitch) and texture (due to the different rhythmic philosophies and to the different instruments and techniques required to play the instruments) of foreign cultures/genres.
Elements of Music
- Rhythm- Distribution of sound over time.
- Beat- Unit of pulse
- Tempo- Speed or rate at which beats pass
- Measure- Group of beats
- Accent- An emphasis placed on a certain note
- Subdivision- The division of a beat
- Meter- Underlying pattern of beats that maintains itself consistently throughout a work
- Syncopation- Off the beat. Achieved by the silence occurring between beats
- Cross-rhythm/polyrhythm- Two or more
- Genre- Category of music
- Melody- Single line of notes heard in succession as a coherent unit
- Conjunct Motion/Disjunct Motion
- Scale, Octave, Interval
- Texture- Texture is based on the number and general relationship of musical lines or voices. Texture can be thick or thin
- Monophonic- Single melody with no accompaniment
- Homophonic- Melody performed with supporting accompaniment
- Polyphonic- Melody is performed against another line of equal importance
- Harmony- Sound created by multiple voices playing or singing together
- Timbre- The color and character of a sound
- Dynamics- The volume at which sound is heard (loud–soft)
- Pianissimo (pp)- Very soft
- Piano (p)- Soft
- Mezzo–piano (mp)- Medium soft
- Mezzo–forte (mf)- Medium loud
- Forte (f)- Loud
- Fortissimo (ff)- Very loud
- Form- The architecture of music
- Binary Form- Two related sections usually repeating (AABB)
- Tereny Form- Three related sections, third section is a recapitulation of the first (ABA) or (AABA)
- Strophic Form- Setting of words in which all verses and stanzas are set to the same music
The example below demonstrates both homophonic and polyphonic textures