Music, its meaning and purpose

Purpose, meaning and individuality in music

I have said it before, and I will say it again...Music is a personal, subjective topic. Through our experiences with music, we slowly learn what we like and what we don't like. Our taste and opinions even change over time, this is the evolution of music, a journey. What is the purpose and meaning of music, and if it is subjective, is it even possible to draw an accurate conclusion of what music is, it's purpose and what it means? With the risk of sounding pretentious and a cliché, I believe the answer is found within the individual. Allow me to share my views and opinions of what music's purpose and meaning is for me, and maybe it will put some things into perspective for you.

 “In the beginning was the word...” … and the word was a sound. There are many different cultures around the world who believe that the creation of the world, and even the creation of man, is attributed to sound. Some examples of these cultures are the Aboriginals of Australia, the Papuan people of New Guinea, the Witoto of Columbia, the Maori's of New Zealand, the Netsilik, or Seal people of Greenland and Hopi Indians of South Western United states, just to name a few. So music is deeply rooted in different cultures and thus also spiritualism.

performing musician

Music is used in many, if not all religions as a way to praise their God/gods. Music is a natural phenomenon that is closely tied to our material existence. Some scientists even argue if our material reality could even exist if sound didn't exist. If you are a believer in String theory, then you can appreciate that statement. Basically string theory says all the tiny electrons and quarks that make up an atom are 1 dimensional, oscillating lines or “strings”. Vibration is obviously the foundation and basis of music. Everything vibrates, whether we hear it or not. Vibration and sound is a phenomenon that permeates our existence.

spiritual music defines music as:

  1. An art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions insignificant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony and colour.

  2. The tones or sounds employed, occurring in single line (melody) or multiple lines (harmony) and sounded or to be sounded by one or more voices or instruments, or both.

  3. Musical work or compositions for singing or playing.

  4. The written or printed score of a musical composition.

  5. Such scores collectively.

 Music is an art, a way for an individual to express their self through rhythm, melody, harmony and colour, either by solo or in a group. It is said music is a language, a way a musician can speak without talking. A language used to express a musician's being. Music is therefore personal and can (perhaps even should be) selfish. I think these days many musicians surrender that right to express their individuality through their music. Musicians have to work with producers and record labels, whose ultimate job is to sell that music. A musician's interest is making the best music possible that expresses their individualism and opinions, not shifting millions of units of product. This is where labels and producers will change things up, to make it more “likeable” for the masses. More people like it, more money they get. That is already sacrificing creative individuality, and the world will not hear the truth of that musician's musical opinion. Its exchanging their expression for one that belongs to a 3rd party. A sliver of truth lost.

 It is easy to be roped into mainstream media and MTV concepts of what a successful musician is, and it is tempting to surrender that individuality to pursue music as a career and get paid for doing your passion. If that love becomes a job, then your job earns you money. You will probably have a boss whose interest is making money and you are answerable to your boss. This is of course just my opinion and is a generalization. There are many incredible musician's who are making it on their own, expressing their musical individuality truthfully. I am willing to bet that music as an art and craft comes first for them. Money is, and should be, a cheeky bonus. I don't believe money should be the root of ones musical inspiration or incentive. If you are making music for the sake of making money, then you are running the risk of creating music for others. But shouldn't music be made for other people to like and appreciate? I believe people are attracted to beautiful, pure, honest, music and that they are there to hear you and what you have to say musically. I want to hear a musicians opinion, what they have to offer. I don't want to hear music that has been purposefully written to please the masses. Music must remain an art and not a science, it runs deep within our humanity and cultures. We are individuals and must embrace that, music should be the celebration of this individuality; not just music, but all art.