・M U S I C・

Here’s my take on music and why it moves us. It’s part science, part spiritual, very subjective, and it may change. But I just wanted to put this down for now.

What is Music
Music is a collection of sound waves propagated at different frequencies and amplitudes. Frequency is measured in how fast sound is vibrating (associated with pitch), and multiple frequencies at once color the timbre of a sound. When different people or instruments sing or play the same note but sound completely different — that’s the difference in timbre. Amplitude of a sound wave is associated with perceived loudness and dynamics. Combinations and patterns of these sound waves is what makes up music. It’s what moves us. Literally.

Vibrations & Energy
Everything in this world vibrates in waves. What makes up sound are the waves that we can perceive with our ears — between 20 and 20,000 Hz. But everything, including ourselves, is vibrating, down to the very atoms that make up all matter.

Thus, music unites us universally — it is reminiscent of the waves and vibrations that we are all made up of. We use words like “good vibes” and “chill” and “upbeat” to describe music, because music literally takes on these different energies in the combinations and patterns of sound waves. We enjoy these collection of sound waves — they soothe us, they surprise us, they influence our moods greatly. They make us feel something, something beyond the physical and material realm.

A Vehicle to the Spiritual

People in history have continually used music as a vehicle to get nearer to God or the spiritual realm: tribal drums in spiritual rituals, gospel choirs in churches, mantra reciters in temples. A friend pointed out that when he first went to an EDM concert, the way people responded so strongly to the music reminded him of people inspired at church. Arms raised high above our heads, eyes closed, heads up, singing at the top of our lungs, so inspired and so passionate! So moving that you physically want to move (dance) along with it. And everybody around you feels similarly as well! It becomes a group experience.

I’ve definitely been there, at that moment where you’re fully immersed in the music and the experience, you are lifted and swept up beyond yourself. It’s almost an out of body experience, to enjoy music that much. At that moment of pure bliss, do we not feel closer to God, or at least something beyond this physical world? That’s the power of music. It takes us there, wherever “there” is, depending on what you believe. But “there” is a special place only music can take us. There is no comparison for a collective moving experience as intense as that led by music.

The Experience

Different types of music or different songs all uniquely take us to different places. We fall in love with the patterns of beats or instrumentation that make up our favorite genres. We have favorite songs that promisingly please us, and we also seek new music to make us feel new things, to introduce ourselves to new ideas, and to go someplace we’ve never gone before. Music can be our comfort, and music can push us outside of our comfort. The value of music is subjective to its perceiver — to the perceiver’s life experiences, personality, mood at that very moment, etc. One song can mean different things and bring a wide array of emotions to many people. Many times what the perceiver feels from the music is reflective of the perceiver himself. In that way, music is a mirror.

Music is what we want it to be. Music is our ideal. The music we choose to enjoy is reflective of our ideal world — with our tastes in music, we choose the soundtrack to our lives, the background music to which our lives are set to. Because music enhances our lives: it colors our memories, it heightens our joy, it reflects our passion. And that additional life — that extra little oomph — that music brings is invaluable to our experience in this world.

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(Note: wrote this as a blog post in March 2014, found it today and decided to repost just because)