What’s Underneath Music

Nov 28, 2012 by

What’s Underneath Music

How is it possible that when one adds simple notes together, which do not have any meaning individually, one could get such a beautiful creation such as Moonlight Sonata?

I mean why does it matter how we put the notes together? Why is it that when we just play random notes loudly it could give us a headache but when they are put in a certain order they could make one’s headache go away?

I mean one could simply say that just because Mozart was a genius his creation had to be magnificent; however that is an argument from personal incredulity which any thinking man should not take seriously. There is something more profound that needs to be explored.

Think about this for a moment – the same idea could be expressed in two different ways. One in which a person goes on and on over explaining it until one’s head hurts and second way in which it is explained very elegantly and expressed very eloquently hence giving the listener this particular feeling of awe.

This feeling of awe is the same when one listens to Moonlight Sonata, Symphony No. 7 in A major or anything else that touches the listener’s heart.

I would like to assimilate this similarity by introducing the idea of rhythm since it would make it much easier to understand it. There is a certain rhythm to everything in this world.

If you just look around you will see what I mean. Look at the rotating planets, the cycle of birth and death, daily thoughts and routines. All of those are just parts that combine into a one big rhythm so to speak.

Now here is what I would like to speculate: there are two type of rhythms one being harmonic which is mostly found in nature and one which is chaotic which is mostly found in our society.

Anything aligned with the harmonic rhythms exudes love, compassion, creativity, laughter and joy whereas anything aligned with chaotic rhythm exudes frustration, anger, jealousy, pain and misery. Of course these are two extremes of the spectrum and there is a place for anything in between as well.

When we look at the trees, the animals and nature in general we feel at ease for some reason and I think the reason is because we align ourselves to its rhythm. On the other hand when we go to New York City this feeling of rush and anxiety takes over us.

Now following this same point I would like to also speculate that when one is listening to a bunch of notes being played loudly one’s head hurts because the rhythm is chaotic. With the same token when one is listening to a beautiful piece of music one is feeling aligned with the harmonic rhythm hence the feeling of joy, freedom and beauty.

I know many people with miserable lives who live in the chaotic rhythm. But one should see their face expressions when they are at a concert of their favorite musician or when they are dancing their favorite choreographed piece.

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  • Mark Peaty

    What is ‘underneath’ music is the human brain. Does that sound a little bit trite, asinine, ho-hum?

    Well pause a minute and understand that, first and foremost, everything you perceive is a construction of and within your brain. Yes the world is REAL; yes you exist, and so do I and all the 7 x 10^9 other people on the planet but the point is that all you know of them is created within your brain. [Yep beyond the clouds, beyond the galaxies in the mind blowing photos, beyond the deepest point you can think of beneath your feet, etc, …. is the inside surface of your skull :-]

    My point is that all the enduring things created and evoked in this neuronal facsimile of the rest of the universe are made up of patterns of mutual reciprocal stimulation amongst widely dispersed groups of neurons and the key thing which integrates them is resonance. That’s right, each sound you hear, construct you create, each idea, they all manifest as a complex cord, if you like. The subtle details which are unique to each idea and perception, and so forth, are embodied by simultaneous activity of neuronal groups in particular locations of the cortex, cerebellum, thalamus, and so forth. It is the signalling back and forth between cortical regions and other regions which *is* the idea – or ‘construct’ is my favourite word – and the complex of resonances is what integrates each such construct.

    This being so – and to my knowledge this is the leading concept for understanding what thought and perception are – it becomes clear that music more than any other cultural product is what gets to the emotional nitty gritty of our experience. Music is closest to what the inner activity of our mind is like.

    • InnovaTonic

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. I enjoyed reading it.

      Let me ask you a question though – when you are saying that music like “any other cultural product is what gets to the emotional nitty gritty of our experience” you are presupposing in a way that we first have to LEARN what music is in order to be able to respond to it correct? And correct me if I am wrong please.

      But if I AM correct then here is another question – there have been experiments done on classical music affecting peoples’ moods. In one of the experiments they only used newborn kids. Here is what happened: When playing random notes which created a kind of dissonance sound or melody all of the newborns started crying or just feeling uneasy. When they played classical music the mood shifted back to being relaxed and comfortable after a couple of minutes. Now as you see the infants have NOT yet learned what music even is but without learning it their mood has been affected.

      If it is only in their brains then the information about the music should have been in the brain before the experiment, but it wasn’t because they are infants.

      Now please don’t get me wrong I am not trying to jump into crazy conclusions and say that it was all the music fairy and not the brain, but what I AM saying is that things like these need to be questioned very well. They need to be observed with an open-mind, but also not too open because delusion always loves to find its way around.

      This question baffles me and whether it is our brain or our spirit (what is a spirit first of all?) that experiences music, I simply don’t know… I am personally leaning towards the scientific view but I once again I don’t know…

      Perhaps you could argue and say that certain sound waves create certain emotions in a person’s mind, but then again where do those associations come from? They HAVE to be learned…

      I would love to hear your thoughts on this!