What is Music?

Music is one of those words that can be hard to define. The main reason is that it means different things to different people. In its broadest sense, it is sound arranged in a specific way to produce a sound. Some familiar terms are notes, beat, rhythm, melody, harmony, and timber. It can be produced by one or many instruments and interpreted vocally with lyrics, or not. One thing is definite; it has been a part of human and animal society since the beginning of time. It is used for communication, patriotism, pleasure, seduction, and as a genre to study in school. It has also been known to drive parents of teen-agers to distraction.

Every culture has its own favorite kind of music. With the growth of technology creating a more global sharing of everything, we are now able to learn more about what every society enjoys. Consequently, the borders between musicians are becoming less defined, and many are becoming drawn to that made by their neighbors across the globe.

Some are still writing classical pieces, but the most popular were created in the 18th and 19th centuries, primarily in Europe. There were a number of well-known composers, three of the most famous being Beethoven, Mozart, and of course Bach. Their works were large and full of emotion. The upper-classes made up the audiences and it was during these years that symphonies, concerts, and opera were born. Although it’s not to everyone’s liking, the classics will live forever.

Popular music changes its definition with each generation, but it generally means the current favorite style. In the United States its included jazz, ragtime, folk, big band, rock and roll, hip hop. Subsets of all of these are developed for short periods of time, but these are some of the main categories we think of as popular.

In the current age we hear some sounds that may not be considered as valid, but they definitely exist. Think about "elevator music". This is what we often hear in the background in shops, supermarkets, doctor’s offices, and of course, elevators. Alternative is just what it sounds like. Recordings of strange melodies or electronic sounds delight the ears of some listeners. New Age usually is meant to calm our spirits and look forward to a world of peace and unity. Music is part of everyone’s life in one form or another and it undoubtedly will be with us forever.

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