Music has always been an integral part of the human civilization. Has it been the East or the West, music looks to have a universal appeal. Many archaeologists and anthropologists recognize it as a dimension for the cultural upgradation. Historians consider musical skills as one of the most important conditions for the intellectual growth. That is the reason as to why the developed societies, more often than not, evolve more delicacies and complexities in their musical genre than those of the less developed ones. In fact, music is the most powerful tool for the hypnotism. It not only spells its charm upon the human beings but the animals too fall prey to it. The scientists concluded after different experiments that cows are milked easily while the suitable music is played during the process of milking. Likewise, elephants respond to music too. Not only have the animals, the plants also responded to music. In the paddy fields the specified instrumental music was played as the crop was growing. There was a visible increase in the per acre produce. Thus, it looks that music has a very soothing effect on living bodies.
During the festive times, on joyous as well as the depressing occasions, in religious/cultural functions, in every sphere of life we see the use of music. Therefore, it is not without reason that one should try to look into the meaning of music. We have to be clear in our minds as to what really is the actual meaning of music. This article tries to find out as to what the masses think of the concept of music and also what the classical definition of the same is.
What is music?
Generally, singing a song, or playing its tune on some instrument, is considered as creating music. There is a saying, "singing and sobbing is known to all." Most of the common masses think that singing is music. They associate it with singing songs or playing the same on an instrument. In "WordWeb Dictionary", the word 'Music' is explained as under:
- An artistic form of auditory communication incorporating instrumental or vocal tones in a structured and continuous manner
2. Any agreeable (pleasing and harmonious) sounds
3. (Singing) musical activity (singing or whistling etc.)
4. (Music) the sounds produced by singers or musical instruments (or reproductions of such sounds)
However, when it comes to the musicians, music is a well defined concept. The artists consider it as a fine art. In the list of the five fine arts, music and literature come on the top. The Indian philosopher and thinker Bhartrihari reveals the same as follows,
"साहित्य संगीत कला-विहीनः, साक्षात् पशुः पुच्छ-विषाण-हीनः।"
Meaning, those who live without music and literature, are like the animals without the horns and tails.
For more on the concept of music, please visit, http://www.musicalexpressions.myehome.in/thesis/ch1.mht/
As in this essay, our main focus is upon the understanding of the views of common people about the concept of music. Therefore, we would not go into the details of the definitions etc of the same. We would Endeavour to think of music in terms of the masses rather.
Dr Radhakrishnan, the great philosopher/teacher and the former President of India stated in his famous book that a poem expressed perfectly and charged with the sentiment, becomes a musical genre. ("Jeewan Ki Adhyatmik Drishti" published by rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi.)
There are many identical definitions of the term 'music', well-versed amongst the music community; hence, it hardly serves any purpose to make of the repetition of the same here. The conclusion of almost all of them is as under:
Music is a fine art which relates to singing, playing of a musical instrument and dancing. It is expressed through the medium of sound. The pleasing sounds or 'naada' is expressed through a variety of musical notes which have been evolved over the ages. These musical notes create music. We can use the vocal chords, which is gifted by the Nature or the man-made musical instruments available in different shapes and sizes to create music. Sometimes, the musical notes are created just by whistling; here one can adjust one's lips to create different musical notes. At present, the western world considers the art of dance unique and separate from music. However, here in India, the trinity of vocal music, instrumental music and dance is treated in the same art of music.
Now, let us reflect on what the masses think of music. Generally, the common men and women do not need a definition to appreciate, understand, adjudge any concepts, ideologies, arts, philosophies etc. the common people use the 'common sense' to understand even the most complicated situations. It is the job of the scholarly and the intelligent to play with language and more often than not, to prove nothing but their capacity of analyzing the concepts. One needs to be a connoisseur and not necessarily a scholar, to enjoy or appreciate music or any art for that matter. One needs commitment, rigorous practice [Swara Sadhana] and the love and appreciation to be a musician. Of course, after a certain level, a reverend teacher is also required. But in any case, we need no reasoning or logic for us to excel in the art. In fact logic is helpful in the branches of science and mathematics etc and the stream of arts has nothing to do with the logic. We can elaborate it by adding the following fact:
The artists try to communicate with his/her audience with ever new expressions. [Different arts have different media]. But the main condition of creating beauty through art remains the same. This condition is the newness of the expression presented to the audience. Bhasa the great classical poet of Sanskrita stated this very romantically. That image, which attains newness every second and hence remains ever new, is the real beauty. (क्षणे क्षणे यन्नवतामुपैति तदेव रूपम् रमणीयतायाः।)
Any new composition, expression, invention, discovery, poem, play etc cannot be created just through the logic. Dr Radhakrishnan supported the same in his book. ('Jeewan ki adhyatmik drishti' P34) He explained, "We can elaborate upon any given idea through the power of logic but logic does not help in leading our ideas to new inventions." He presented an example from the world of science. Many persons before Newton had seen the apple falling on the earth. However, it struck in nobody's mind [before Newton], that the fall was due to the reason of the earth's gravity. Sometimes, we try our level best to find the solution to a problem and get none. As we accept the defeat, sometimes it occurs that suddenly the solution strikes in our mind like a lightening. We get a smile and think that answer to the said problem was so simple and still so far away from us. It is through the genius and ignited minds that such newness takes place incessantly. The orthodox God-fearing persons believe that it is through the grace of the God.
It is for this reason that the masses consider music as one of many gifts of the Almighty. We, the logical men and woman, often ridicule the faith of the common people and condemn such thinking on the basis of not being logical. For instance, many rationalists question the thinking that the Swaras [the musical notes] originated through the 'Damru' of lord Shiva or through imitating the voices of different birds and animals. Some of such scholarly persons also question the association of gods and goddesses with music and other fine arts. They suggest that the gods have nothing to do with the evolution of arts. But the common men and women beyond cultural barriers and geographical boundaries are united and firm in the view that it is the grace of God which showers the hypnotizing drizzle of arts upon us. That is why; they say that the artists are born naturally. They cannot be evolved. Many artists too submit that one can polish an artist to the perfection but the artists cannot be created; they are born through the grace of the God.
For the masses, arts in general and music in particular, make the artists glamorous. Everybody is infected by a genuine and pleasant music. Subsequently, everybody wants to learn it have a mastery over the art. But in the opinion of Shri L. K. Pandit, (former lecturer in the Department of music, Delhi University and Programme Executive, All India Radio), in the music Institutes we do not create 'Tansens' but 'Kaansens'. Every learner of music cannot necessarily become an artist but he/she surely can become 'Kaansen' [the appreciator of music].
On the basis of above description, the art of music can be associated with two basic components: 1. the creater of music [the artist] and 2. The listener or the audience. The linking medium which connects these two is the art-form. There are numerous forms of music which have been categorized by musicologists in different classes. Some of them, for instance, are: popular music, folk music, film music, light music, devotional music and last but not the least, classical music. Classical music is further divided into classical and semiclassical music. There are different classes and types of musical forms. However, it is beyond the limits of this article to address the issue of the classification of musical forms. Our focus would be to understand as to what is the scope of music as for as a layman is concerned.
In music, the medium of expression is the sound. All sounds are not musical ones. Musical sounds are said to have certain characteristics like softness, pleasantness, clarity etc. the sounds used in music are thus called 'Naada'. Naada is expressed through the musical notes. These musical notes do not have any substantial relevance for the laymen. The masses do not ponder over the minute ideas like the accuracy of musical notes, the pitch, the composition etc. they just like or dislike the musical composition they listen to. Therefore, the concepts like the composition, 'Swara Sadhana', purity of Raga, perfection of certain techniques etc which are very important to a music critique, do not have much significance to the masses.
The musician and the audience are linked [as stated above], through the musical sound which is expressed by the musical notes. These notes do not have any substance for the common audience. Therefore, we stop talking of them. The main objective of the artist of music has to be to focus upon the melody. Melody is composed through the musical notes. However, those folk people, who are not aware of musical notes, also compose folk songs. Therefore, we should rather say that the melody is based upon the musical sounds. All the features of the musical sounds [pleasantness, softness, soothing effect etc] are hence transferred to the melody. Melody may or may not have poetry or words. In the purest form of music, only musical sounds are used to convey the feeling of the artist. But in the oral tradition and the folk traditions, the melody is composed of both the two: words as well as the musical notes. In Indian tradition, the former is called as 'dhatu' and the latter one is 'matu'. This fascinating mingling of two great fine arts [music and literature], leads to the composition of songs. These songs vary from region to region and from culture to culture. We can submit that "the song is poetry composed in musical notes and balanced with rhythmic patterns." Any literary work, when decorated with musical notes and the rhythm, transformed into a song. Such songs are also played upon various musical instruments. In that case, the listeners enjoy the same song as with words. In Indian tradition, it is believed that the musical instruments should follow the vocal music and the dance should follow the instruments. (SangeetRatnakar: Chapter 1, Pindotpatti Prakaran).
To conclude, music is the melody (or melodies played together - harmony), composed of musical notes and balanced with rhythmic patterns. The main property of any musical composition is that it is pleasant, fascinating, interest-provoking and above all full of freshness or newness. Such compositions are appreciated by the audience and hence easily gain popularity. The acceptance of the listeners is also very importand for a musical genre for making an imprint. Marketability, presentibility etc come afterwards.