Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Music has a purpose

“Nothing is accomplished by writing a piece of music
“ “ “ “ hearing “ “ “ “
“ “ “ “ playing “ “ “ “” -John Cage

Does music really accomplish nothing? John Cage would seem to suggest this in his above statement, but I disagree. Music accomplishes many things. John Cage was wrong! (for once).

Music is often used to accomplish many tasks. The most prevalent one is entertainment. There are people that find composing music entertaining, many more find playing music entertaining, and most people are entertained when listening to music. It accomplishes the task of being a medium for which people use to keep themselves from being bored. In my opinion, that’s an admirable feat.

Writing and playing music can also be used for purposes that hearing music cannot. They can be used as a source of income. People can sell their songs or their services in order to acquire the revenue necessary to provide for their families. Anyone who says that getting a job is not an important thing to accomplish has got to be crazy, and, if you’re good at it, composing or playing music can be your job.

Playing music can also evoke certain emotions, and for movies, plays, etc. that is exactly what you want to do. We’re all familiar with the “Jaws’” theme music. Music like that makes us feel a certain way even though we may not know why we should feel that way yet. In other words, playing music can help to set the scene in a movie. Playing music can also be used in a way that is often overlooked. It is often used as a form of worship. Most modern religions regularly use music in their common religious gatherings (ex: Sunday mass) and for major holidays (ex: Christmas). One may argue that God doesn’t exist and therefore this example is null, but, even if God didn’t exist (because that person would obviously be wrong), we’d still use music to accomplish the task of worshiping; we’d simply be worshiping nothing.

Listening to music can be used as a source of inspiration. Whenever I experience writer’s block or any sort of creativity block for that matter, listening to music helps me to overcome it. What might seem odd is that I can never seem to relate my new idea to the music I listened to in any way. I guess listening or viewing creative works of art can simply inspire creativity.

Playing and listening to music can also serve another purpose. It is a form of communication. It can be used to convey emotions and other abstract ideas. Music that we find happy, sad, or frightening would, usually, affect an isolated tribe in Africa, that has had no contact with our culture before, in much the same way as it affects us. Basically speaking, music tends to be universal; its affects have only minute and insignificant variations from person to person. All sound is music and often times half of what we say is communicated from the tone of and inflections in our voice. Even if we can’t understand someone due to language barriers, we can usually get a basic understanding of what they’re saying from the tone. Even according to John Cage himself, because all noise is music, we use music to communicate everyday. And he said that music accomplished nothing.

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