What is Music?

Music is a fine art which awakens aesthetic consciousness in the depth of a human being's mind and bring joy and happiness enabling him to enjoy the intrinsic beauty of nature and transcendental calmness of his soul as well.

Rabindranath Tagore said The light of music illuminates the world. The life breath of music runs from sky to sky. The holy stream of the music breaks through all rocky obstacles and rushes to the heart.


The words music and musical are difficult to be properly defined to be agreeable to everybody. This can be explained thus: the word stands for a set of dissimilar activities rather than a set of similar activities. The acts or functions of their properties that we call music or musical are very different from one another. The musical actions make use of different factors such as sound, time, rhythm, motion, noise, silence, speech, musical instruments, etc. These actions aim at different targets such as joy, self-expression, communication, recreation, exhibit reality, autonomous creation, devotion, entertainment, edification, etc. These actions are experienced in different ways and the response of the listener is shown by way of bodily sensation, sense perception, perceptual conception and so on. These are appreciated for different reasons such as poignancy, happiness, perspecuity, self-entertainment, mental depression, etc.

Some American thinkers have explained music as a force which can strike the mind and the heart directly by symbolic articulation. All these metadescriptions on music do not arrive at a perfect definition of the term. A definition needs a universally accepted feature in it pertaining to all acts of music of all kinds.

One factor which could be observed in most of the definitions is that music is a kind of force which has the property of moving or the property of dynamacity. Therefore music can be defined as a tonal movement. This is the motion of the tones or the movement of notes which is common to both Eastern ane Western music.

The musical situations are situations of motion. Motion goes through tones, and tones convey motion. Therefore the tones become the elements of a musical context. In listening to music what we hear is the motion of tones. The other most important factor is that motion conveys rhythm, and it is the kinetic element in music.

Music is a unique set of characteristics that makes a performance an aesthetic object, which will form an isomorphically related feeling in the mind or heart of a listener. If we think deeply about this action or situation, we see that the whole process is a result or combination of an autonomous act. This musical situation is the result of a functional relation of various elements taking part in this process in the society, namely the aesthetic object, the performer, listener, critic and theoretician.

Let us symbolize the

  • Aesthetic object as O
  • Autonomous society as S
  • Performer as P
  • Listener as L
  • Critic as C
  • Theorist as T.

The relation between each other can be represented by the diagram as shown below.

  1. S feeds material and subject matter to O.
  2. O reflects, imitates or is influenced by S.
  3. O expresses or symbolises the feeling, mood, idea, vision, or message of P.
  4. P creates O.
  5. P the performing artiste becomes identical with O, and they are inseparable though logically distinguishable.
  6. P/O entertains L.
  7. P enjoys actively (directly) and L passively (indirectly).
  8. L admires P.
  9. C appreciattes (evaluates, criticizes) P/O.
  10. T defines the notion of O, P and L.
  11. T attempts to understand the aesthetic values or properties of O and P.

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