But… Is It Music?

Interesting, but… is it music? I often get reactions like this to my work.

What can I say? I generally reply that if it is made on purpose from sounds (including silence) by somebody with the intention to make music, then I call it music – whether I like it or not has nothing to do with it.

See, many people seem to say things like this is not music when they really mean I don’t like it. If they had said I don’t call this “music” or I don’t hear it as music, then I couldn’t argue.

Wikipedia has a substantial article about the definition of music (the page will open in a new window) with many links to articles on related issues – well worth reading, in my opinion, but way too much to analyze in any great detail here. Edgar Varèse’s simple description sums it all up for me: He looks at music as “organized sound”. It seems pretty much in line with my own feelings about it, if “organized” implies deliberation and intent… and as I think about it: doesn’t “organized” in this context mean pretty much the same as “composed”?

Here is my favourite example of “music” as opposed to “not music”, and it is the most extreme case I can think of: Say, You are listening to the birds singing. By almost anybody’s standards, that’s a very musical sound, yet, I wouldn’t call it music. It has not been deliberately organized, or composed, with the intent of making music. Now, you activate your field recorder, record a minute or two of it, play it back to me and say that this is some music you just made. I’d have no problem with that.

What the “bird song” actually means, now… that is a different story all together. I imagine that if I could understand it, I’d be hearing things like “one step closer to my nest, and I’ll peck out your eyes” …  😉

Anyway, I rest my case for now – but but I shall have a lot more to say on this highly controversial topic.
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