Today, when we talk about music, we have to take into account nowadays society.
The connections between music and society allow us to use the word communication, which is the core of my research.
Today, music is literally everywhere, it is almost impossible to think of a place where it is not played: shops, airports, discos, waiting rooms are just some of the spots where we are invaded by music.
We cannot even decide wether to listen to it or not, because notes, unlike paintings or posters are phisically more invasive, they get inside us regardless of our intentions.
This is why we provided ourselves with a sort of invisible shell that enables us to ignore all these organised notes.
Music can change a person, so the world, but are far away to achieve this: Music is not an anaesthetic, it is a natural medecine.
The word Music derives from Latin musica and from greek μουσικός/mousikos, the art of muses.
Hence, originally, this word did not indicate a particular art, but something perfect belonging to the world of muses (or something dependent on it).
The western sense of this term, could be summed up in two main principles: emotion and mathesis (from greek science, theory), this notion can be grasped from Hegel’s and Pythagoras’ words, respectively: ” the scream of horror, the sobbing of grief, the triumphal shout and thrills of exultant pleasure and joyfulness” and “[…]the geometry in the humming of the strings, in the spacing of the spheres” .
These two principles cannot live separately, they need to be together, since they both belong to nature: man’s nature: emotion, and the nature of sound: mathesis. There is no melody or tune that was made without emotion or mathesis.
Not only is their coexistence unequivocal, but “every attempt to admit just one of the two parts is bound to fail” .
Therefore, the real core of western music could be seen as mathematized emotion or emotionalized mathematics.
From a mere musicological point of view, music is the perfect integration of three elements: melos (melody), rhytmos (rhythm) and harmonia (quintessence of the relations among sounds), considered an organic whole, where there are no independent components.
the power of music could go beyond the musical delight, as much to become a veritable prototype of social propriety.
Music is life’s mirror, they both come into existence from nowhere and vanish into nowhere. Music is generated from silence and it passes away into silence, just like life.
When we play, through sound, it is possible to control the relationship between life and death (humans are not given this chance in real life), the end of every single note releases a feeling of death, which allows the musician to enter a sort of extra dimension.
For instance the legato, the act of linking one note to another and one of the key factors for musical expressiveness we prevent notes from developing their own ego and from acquiring too much importance, compared to the previous or next ones.
Just like individuals in society, every note must be aware of itself and of its limits.
Each note, just as each human being, struggles for life against death, fighting against the silence that will make it cease to exist; none of them can consider itself more worthy than another (unless music wants it).
At the same time, individualism and collectivism are not at all exclusive, instead if they are put together, they ennoble human existence.
To put into practise these principle, the great Daniel Barenboim, set up the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with the aim to draw Israeli and Palestinian musicians together.
The benefits that could come from the intrinsic dialogue belonging to music, are one of the main reasons why this orchestra has been set up.
In fact, when one plays, he/she has basically to accomplish two requirements: express himself/herself and listen to the other musicians.
It is impossible to play cleverly, if one does not do well one of these two things: a technically perfect performance is not enough, one has to listen to the other musicians, because for example, his/her volume could be too high or low compared with the other instruments.
Analogously, a correct listening will not make a musician a great one, because the two skills are inseparable.
When an Arab musician has to share a note – holder with an Israeli, they both try to play the same note with the same expression, the same pathos, the same sound.
Once they have accepted to play a single note together, from that moment on, they will look at each other differently.
If they are able to hold a musical dialogue, could they not hold a verbal one?
In the West – Eastern Divan Orchestra, the metaphysical and universal language of music, leads the musicians to have a continuous dialogue, allowing them to express what is prohibited or difficult to put into words.
Obviously, the objective is not to bring peace between the two opponent countries, but to make people ready to talk about it, to stir up people’s curiosity, to get people to listen to what they are not used to listening, to eradicate each other’s prejudices. When the Palestinians are together with the Israelis to make music, they finally become equals.
This proves how languages, when they are not effective, can be integrated or replaced by music.
The historical period that emphasises the most the power of music, is without any doubt Romanticism, where the principle of imitation in art was unconditionally rejected, so the supremacy of art had to have a creative nature, art was conceived as the aesthetic of creation.
Music, unlike all figurative arts, does not have any external reference: it is a non – imitative art, just like poetry. What makes music different from the latter, is its non – conceptualised nature: this is the consequence of its powers and limits.
It is able to spread over humanity in its entirety, in a universal way, this is its greatest power.
Its biggest limit is the fact that it could be attributed to all sorts of intentions and functions, because it has no concepts.
One of the supporters of the supreme role of music within the world of arts, is the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
Since music does not reproduce ideas, unlike any other artform, it may be regarded as the immediate disclosure of will.
When Schopenhauer mentions the word ideas, he refers to Plato’s philosophy of them, that is to say eternal entities (of forms), paradigmatic for the structure and character of our world.
According to Plato, art is an imitation of an imitation, it is three times further from the truth, since it does nothing but reproduce some images of natural things, which are also an imitation of ideas.
By contrast, music does not imitate anything (such as real objects), but it creates from nothing, that is why it is included in Plato’s theoretical school programme for the future leaders of the government.
Schopenhauer believes that music is the deepest and most universal art, a veritable “metaphysics of sounds”, able to make us get in touch with the roots of life and being.
Compared with the other arts, music holds a different and extraordinary position, it is separated from them, and it is also
independent from the phenomenal world (because it is on the same footing as ideas), it ignores it and it could well survive if the world did not exist; which is not the case for the other arts.
Finally, I would like to end reporting some fragments of the book life of Chopin written by Franz Liszt who explains us how the power of music can go beyond words.
In comparison with the vivid and delicious excitement produced
by other arts, words always appear poor, cold, and arid, so that the
assertion seems just: “that of all modes of expressing sentiments, words
are the most insufficient.” We cannot flatter ourselves with having
attained in our descriptions the exceeding delicacy of touch, necessary
to sketch that which Chopin has painted with hues so ethereal.
He made an instrument speak the language of the infinite. Often in ten lines that a child might play he has introduced poems of unequalled elevation, dramas unrivalled in force and Energy.