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Science Forum

  1. 17 Apr '08 10:03 / 1 edit
    This is questions about music. There are no specific and absolute answers, or are there? So I give some questions to discuss about. Perhaps some of the answers will clarify this phenomenon a little.

    I put it in the Scientific Forum, because I think there is a great deal of science behind...

    What is music? How does it differ from noise and other sounds? From where comes its beauty?

    Okay, the questions are out. Please, give some thoughts about it!
  2. 17 Apr '08 10:32
    Music is a series or mixture of sounds that creates a pleasant effect in the brain. It is usually rhythmic in nature.
  3. 17 Apr '08 12:11
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Music is a series or mixture of sounds that creates a pleasant effect in the brain. It is usually rhythmic in nature.
    Would you say the sound of the sea is music? Because it seems to match your definition.
  4. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    17 Apr '08 12:14
    Another interesting set of questions could be:

    - Historically, are any known examples of societies where the concept of music did not exist?
    - Why is music so prevalent in human societies?
  5. 17 Apr '08 14:07
    Originally posted by mtthw
    Would you say the sound of the sea is music? Because it seems to match your definition.
    Maybe I should add to my definition that music is man made with the express purpose of causing the pleasurable effect.

    However the sound of the sea could certainly be called musical though the word 'music' would not normally be applied to sounds not made expressly for the purpose of auditory pleasure.
  6. 17 Apr '08 14:09
    Originally posted by Palynka
    - Why is music so prevalent in human societies?
    Because its pleasurable.
  7. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    17 Apr '08 14:34
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Because its pleasurable.
    Durr. Why is it pleasurable? For example, why does music stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain?
  8. 17 Apr '08 15:01
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Music is a series or mixture of sounds that creates a pleasant effect in the brain. It is usually rhythmic in nature.
    not all music is pleasant
  9. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    17 Apr '08 15:06 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by eatmybishop
    not all music is pleasant
    If it is to be called music, it will be pleasant to SOME people. If it were unpleasant to all humans, it would not be played, unless as a punishment. That has been done before,
  10. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    17 Apr '08 19:12
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Another interesting set of questions could be:

    - Historically, are any known examples of societies where the concept of music did not exist?
    - Why is music so prevalent in human societies?
    -- Yes, in that there are societies without a word that would be translated as 'music' (although, confusingly, they have forms of expression that would be translated as 'music'.
    -- Music (which etymologically speaking includes dance and poetry) has many beneficial applications: social cohesion, dramatic expression, communication. Music (broadly defined) probably precedes speech (birds, insects use music too). (This isn't a very good answer but it's a beginning.)

    The fundamental characteristic of music, to me, is that it compels you to listen. All you need for music is rhythm. Since the notion of 'the music of the spheres' was once common currency it's not a problem to classify natural sound as music. After all it's in the ear of the listener. You can edit natural sounds to compose music in your head.

    But really the question I'd ask, which does overlap your questions, is what the function of music has been in human society.
  11. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    17 Apr '08 19:13 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Durr. Why is it pleasurable? For example, why does music stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain?
    Is sad music pleasant?

    Here's some easily digestible research: http://www.scena.org/lsm/sm8-2/musique_biologie_en.htm
  12. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    18 Apr '08 07:37
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Is sad music pleasant?

    Here's some easily digestible research: http://www.scena.org/lsm/sm8-2/musique_biologie_en.htm
    Here is a link to a phyics.org piece about seeing new geometric shapes in music:
    http://www.physorg.com/news127659537.html
  13. 18 Apr '08 07:53 / 1 edit
    This is a question I've wondered about. How do some abstract sequences of combinations of pure tones sometimes have a huge emotional effect? (Of course, not all music is pure tones, but pure tones can create moving music even though pure tones rarely occur in nature.)

    To some extent, I believe, we are conditioned by experience to associate certain kinds of music with certain emotions (i.e. "sad" music with sad occasions, etc.) but clearly the human brain has some hardwired affinity to rhythm and probably melody as well.

    My guess is that if all conscious ideas about music vanished from today's society we would still find ourselves drumming rhythmically with our fingers and so on and pretty quickly build back up to complex combinations of rhythm and melody and so on.
  14. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    18 Apr '08 08:36
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Is sad music pleasant?

    Here's some easily digestible research: http://www.scena.org/lsm/sm8-2/musique_biologie_en.htm
    If you like it, then why wouldn't it be? I take immense pleasure in listening to Joy Division's atmosphere, yet it is also terribly depressing.

    Note: And I don't define pleasure as some hedonists do (along with pain) and equating it with preferences.
  15. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    18 Apr '08 08:38
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    -- Yes, in that there are societies without a word that would be translated as 'music' (although, confusingly, they have forms of expression that would be translated as 'music'.
    I'm more interested in the forms of expression than the language itself. Although, obviously, having a word for it implies its existence. Still, which societies do you have in mind here?