What is Music: Definition and 421 Discussions

Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the "color" of a musical sound). Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces (such as songs without instrumental accompaniment) and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "(art) of the Muses"); see § Etymology and glossary of musical terminology.
In its most general form, the activities describing music as an art form or cultural activity include the creation of works of music (songs, tunes, symphonies, and so on), the criticism of music, the study of the history of music, and the aesthetic examination of music. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers defined music in two parts: melodies, as tones ordered horizontally, and harmonies as tones ordered vertically. Common sayings such as "the harmony of the spheres" and "it is music to my ears" point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to. However, 20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, "There is no noise, only sound."The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Indeed, throughout history, some new forms or styles of music have been criticized as "not being music", including Beethoven's Grosse Fuge string quartet in 1825, early jazz in the beginning of the 1900s and hardcore punk in the 1980s. There are many types of music, including popular music, traditional music, art music, music written for religious ceremonies, and work songs such as chanteys. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions—such as Classical music symphonies from the 1700s and 1800s—through to spontaneously played improvisational music such as jazz, and avant-garde styles of chance-based contemporary music from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Music can be divided into genres (e.g., country music) and genres can be further divided into subgenres (e.g., alternative country and country pop are two of the many country subgenres), although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to personal interpretation, and occasionally controversial. For example, it can be hard to draw the line between some early 1980s hard rock and heavy metal. Within the arts, music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art or as an auditory art. Music may be played or sung and heard live at a rock concert or orchestra performance, heard live as part of a dramatic work (a music theater show or opera), or it may be recorded and listened to on a radio, MP3 player, CD player, smartphone or as film score or TV show.
In many cultures, music is an important part of people's way of life, as it plays a key role in religious rituals, rite of passage ceremonies (e.g., graduation and marriage), social activities (e.g., dancing) and cultural activities ranging from amateur karaoke singing to playing in an amateur funk band or singing in a community choir. People may make music as a hobby, like a teen playing cello in a youth orchestra, or work as a professional musician or singer. The music industry includes the individuals who create new songs and musical pieces (such as songwriters and composers), individuals who perform music (which include orchestra, jazz band and rock band musicians, singers and conductors), individuals who record music (music producers and sound engineers), individuals who organize concert tours, and individuals who sell recordings, sheet music, and scores to customers. Even once a song or piece has been performed, music critics, music journalists, and music scholars may assess and evaluate the piece and its performance.

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  1. phinds

    R.I.P Duane Eddy (Rebel Rouser)

    https://www.npr.org/2024/05/01/1248565614/duane-eddy-rock-guitarist-obituary Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddy
  2. BillTre

    Dickie Betts, one of the Allman Brothers founders, dead at 80

    He founded the band with Gregg and Duane Allman in 1969. One of my favorite tunes of theirs is the wonderful Blue Sky which he wrote for his girl friend at the time.
  3. pinball1970

    How Did Karl Wallinger Impact Music?

  4. pinball1970

    How Did Eric Carmen Impact Music Before His Death in 2024?

  5. morrobay

    Why Is Two-Tone Ska Rock Popular on Retro Radio?

    Just hearing alot of this genre on retro FM radio. This genre originated In the late 1970's in Coventry, England. The local dj on this station , Top News Radio 93.5 FM is a Brit.
  6. strangerep

    Music Remembering Melanie Safka: A Tribute to the Iconic Singer and Her Timeless Music

    I just found out that Melanie Safka died a few days ago (23 Jan 2024), age 76. :cry: I heard her iconic song "Lay Down" when it came out in in 1970, of course, but didn't really understand the meaning back then. This is an extended version...
  7. walkeraj

    Music Guilty Pleasures: Admit to music you'd be made fun of for listening to!

    Music Playing: "Jive Talking", "Night Fever", followed by "Tragedy" by the Bee Gees. On Bee Gees Greatest. *Gets down off disco ball* We all do it. We all groove to it. Now admit to it! What do you shamelessly listen to?
  8. walkeraj

    Music Esoteric Music Recommendations

    What is the most esoteric (especially in the sense of specialized) music you own and recommend? To suggest one: Turkwaz's "Nazar". A set of Sufi devotional love songs. Assembled, studied and performed by doctors of music.
  9. J

    What Inspired 'Blinding Light' by Lisha Sebastian?

    My daughter just released her single, ‘Blinding Light’ today! Please listen and feel free to add it to your playlist if you like it! https://www.lishasebastian.com/blindinglight The page also has link to the YouTube lyrics video. Thank you,
  10. Daniel Petka

    I Why is saxophone growling produced by modulation of the sound waves?

    My clarinet teacher once showed me a trick: you can play any note and then sing a fifth above that note and it will create the illusion of sounding an octave deeper. On a different sub, I asked about this technique: It turns out that this is called saxophone growling. And it's no coincidence...
  11. strangerep

    Tea for the Tillerman 2020 remake -- thoughts?

    Just recently I became aware of this major remake of the Cat Stevens album "Tea for the Tillerman". I really like some of them, e.g., Sad Lisa: (Very good new version, IMHO.) Into White: (I absolutely LOVE the new version.) Others I really dislike, e.g., Wild World. Longer Boats started...
  12. H

    Favorite Electric Guitar Rock Solos

    You already know about Crossroads and Red House, so skip those. Etsushi Ogawa [ 小川悦司 ] I like the way this builds so gradually. You also get to see Senri Kawaguchi wearing a Peter Pan collar. John McLaughlin -- Tokyo City Girl I dunno that anyone else will like this but it's my fave...
  13. D

    Music A Rain Song -- Favorite one? Memorable one? One you like?

    Here's one on his birthday today:
  14. H

    Is Lovebites the Ultimate Form of Entertainment?

    Lovebites I dunno that this great art, but it shure is entertaining.
  15. H

    Music What is Sheena Ringo's Hi Izuru Tokoro and its Impact on Modern Music?

    Exclusively for musicians whose careers began in the 21st century. Sheena Ringo's Hi Izuru Tokoro [The Land Of The Rising Sun] from 2014. I think the whole album is great. Well her first single was released in 1998 and her career took off in 1999 but I'm gonna let that slide. Now she's one...
  16. H

    Music Today's Fusion Music: T Square, Cassiopeia, Rei & Kanade Sato

    The musical style called fusion lasted only a few years in the West but caught on in Japan. I supposed that's natural for a nation whose symbol is a fusion-fueled fireball. The exponents were T Square and Cassiopeia, which are getting pretty old but still doing it. Their influence was mostly...
  17. J

    Music Music Single Release - 'Life Before Death'

    My daughter Lisha just released a single ‘Life Before Death’. If you are into soulful music with deep lyrics, would strongly encourage not to miss this one. You could click on the link below to listen to the song in your preferred platform. (Also there’s a lyrics video (YouTube) button in the...
  18. pinball1970

    Randy Meisner, Eagles Founding Member, Dead at 76

    Randy Meisner 1946-2023 Bassist and founder member of the Eagles died last week. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2023/jul/27/randy-meisner-the-eagles-dies#:~:text=Randy%20Meisner%2C%20a%20founding%20member%20of%20the%20Eagles%2C%20has%20died,Eagles%20said%20in%20a%20statement.
  19. rcgldr

    Image of a 1973 multi-mini computer database server

    This was an advanced system at the time (1973), my first programming job. Multiple HP 2100 mini-computers (1 is HP 2116), each computer mult-tasking, a database server for 160 users at the time I left the company. Underneath each mini-computers is a 10 MB hard drive used to queue messages...
  20. H

    What are the interests of this scientist?

    Though I am hardly a new member I can't resist this self-introduction.
  21. H

    Excellence On Obscure Instruments

    Kazoo Keytar Harpiji Stylophone
  22. pinball1970

    How do I learn 14 rock numbers (drums) in two weeks?

    I did not want to bump max in biology, so I stuck this here. So, my dilemma. I have a short time to learn 14 tracks, specifically for an Ozzy/Dio Sabbath tribute on drums. It is not that I have never played these live or never played them at all, my problem is I do not know the tracks! So...
  23. S

    Music Some music pieces same/similar from the same artist

    A better forum for this should be in an entirely different one, not PF, but dedicated to music. Some pieces of music with different titles but from the same artist seem essentially the same music/or song but just different names. I believe I found two examples: Spudnik, and Surf Rider (Nokie...
  24. H

    Music Music I Can't Tolerate: Pet Peeves Revealed

    I can't tolerate anything with a dominant quarter note bass drum. It makes me feel like a galley slave. Dammit, it's supposed to start at 2:08. It used to work.... Any pet peeves out there?
  25. H

    Art Can Mixing Different Styles of Dance and Music Create a Perfect Blend?

    I like to mix together dance with other music. What I've discovered that there are three cases. Sometimes it looks perfectly natural even though the tempos and beats have no relation to one another at all. Other times it is necessary to change tempo so that there is a simple ratio like 4/3...
  26. Bob Walance

    Music Equal temperament vs instrument harmonics in music

    Our brains are apparently musically happy when different individual notes are harmonically related to each other. In our music system, the fundamental frequencies of the different notes on a musical instrument such as the piano or the guitar are related to each other in such a way as to allow...
  27. jedishrfu

    Music We Lost Another Great Icon of Music of the 1960's: Judith Durham

    We lost another great icon of the 1960's: Judith Durham of The Seekers https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/judith-durham-the-seekers-australia-singer-dead-obit-1393839/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Durham Most famous song was Georgy Girl: and my two favorites: It Doesn't...
  28. E

    Final year University Project, Music Visualisation question

    Hi there. I start my final year of my computer science degree this September and, alongside other modules, will do an independent final year project. I have not had very much CS experience outside my degree so I am a bit unsure what would be feasible for me while not being too trivial such that...
  29. kyphysics

    How do you listen to portable music?

    What method do you use nowadays to listen to music while on the move? Are MP3 players even used anymore?
  30. S

    Art "Zorba The Greek" dance music - based on traditional themes?

    Is the dance music from "Zorba The Greek" based on themes from older and traditional folk music? - or is it essentially an original melody?
  31. H

    Music Music to Lift Your Soul: 4 Genres & Honorable Mention

    Best music ever. Four genres. Classical: JS Bach “Air On A G String” in the original key -- Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra Country: Jed Zeppelin -- Workingman’s Blues [Merle Haggard]...
  32. DennisN

    Music Vote: Which musical artist would you choose?

    I saw a pretty fun question on Facebook regarding nine deceased musical artists. This poll is simply about which artist of these you would by a ticket to a concert with, if you could. You can only choose one! The artists are (left to right, top to bottom): Bob Marley, Prince, David Bowie...
  33. T

    Music MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Music, and.... SPIDERS

    What a combination. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/mit-scientists-help-spiders-make-music/ Or if you don't want to read the article, here is a link to the video at the end:
  34. S

    Music Exploring Relativity through Music: Queen's '39 and Beyond

    Hello All You may be aware of Queen's song '39 where the effects of time dilation are key to the plot. Quote: For so many years have gone though I'm older but a year Your mother's eyes, from your eyes, cry to me Presumably the lyrics were influenced by Brian May's studies in maths and...
  35. S

    Music Directors and the first note of a piece of music

    When I watch videos of directors beginning a musical performance, I usually cannot tell how they designate a particular instant of time when the musicians are supposed to start playing. Perhaps each conductor has his own habits and the musicians must get used to them? Or perhaps the director...
  36. J

    Music My daughter's first music single....'Confined'

    Hi, My daughter's first ever song, titled 'Confined' got published on Spotify/YouTube and few other websites. She did the complete work by herself, including lyrics, music, singing, guitar and Piano. Would like to request all of you to please support her by listening/subscribing to the song and...
  37. C

    Discovering Drum Head Patterns for Music Education

    Hey everyone - I run a music school and learning about how sound works is really helpful in talking about tone production, volume, and just understanding in general what's going on. As part of that,. I'm looking for a pattern that I could print on a drum head that would show how the head moves...
  38. A

    Why does the polarity of a bass guitar recording vary?

    Sorry if this is the wrong place for this question. I am a musician and recording engineer trying to learn about why my bass guitar recordings sometime appear with the waveform going up first (positive polarity) and other times going down first (negative polarity) in my DAW (digital audio...
  39. BillTre

    Music Stonehenge Had Good Acoustics For Voice And Music

    Tests of a mini-Stonehenge indicates it was acoustically suited for music and voices. Science News article Original research article Thus is was probably a good place to use for meetings of humans involving different audio features. This argument is reminiscent (to me anyway) of a David Byrne...
  40. BWV

    Music Longest piece of classical music changes chords today

    the d# a# e chord held since 2013 will change today to g# e. The next chord change is February 5, 2022. The piece will end in 620 years on Sep 5, 2640 https://www.aslsp.org/de/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_Slow_as_Possible
  41. david2

    Music Making Music with YouTube Videos - Have You Seen It?

    Hi, Some years ago I saw a youtube video in which a song was made using other youtube videos with people playing a single instrument or people singing. They just mixed the videos together to make a new song.It was awesome! I cannot find it, anyone knows?
  42. K

    Misc. How to stop my neighbours' loud music?

    I live in a complicated community. People will have parties lasting all the night in the weekend. Ocasionally some neighbours will complain and call the police. However people are usually too afraid of doing anything fearing retaliation. (Fortunately during this pandemic authorities are not...
  43. S

    Human Body Systems Music Video

    I am a high school science teacher working on arts integration for thirty years in schools where many students have academic skills below grade level. I am looking for feedback.
  44. jedishrfu

    Genetic Data Tools Reveal How Pop Music Evolved

    An interesting article from the Physics Archive Blog:
  45. M

    Optimizing Marimba Tuning for Temperature Variations: A Scientific Approach

    I make marimbas, and I have invented a few variations (www.marimbaaustralia.com) I am interested in how sound moves through the wooden bars - in particular the effect that temperature has and how to compensate during tuning on different temperature days. I have almost no algebraic knowledge...
  46. morrobay

    Music Has all the Good Music Been Played/Copied/Completed?

    Recently I read a quote/statement by a younger (20's) male member of a modern band: apprx: All the good music has already been created,played,copied, completed... I do not think he was referring to classical but I am assuming just about everything else: pop, blues ,jazz, motown, country...