I wasn’t originally going to do this, but there has been some good discussion about the definition of music from my last post, so I wanted to address it. The main thing that people seem to be commenting on is my statement that for something to be music, it has to be arranged with some intelligence behind it. In my definition of music – a sequence of sounds, arranged so that a listener may appreciate the sounds themselves – a random series of sounds like those made by a rushing waterfall or wind chimes are not music. However, many people have argued that, yes, they are music.
Now, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. It’s not a big deal which way you believe on this… and considering that people have been debating the definition of “art” for centuries, I don’t think this question will get solved any time soon.
But, let’s say for a moment that all of these random sounds that have not been arranged are, in fact, music. It creates a bit of a problem for me, because I’m trying to write blog articles about how to compose music, and if music can be composed by throwing a trash can off of a second-story window, then composing music becomes too easy. Literally any sound you hear becomes music, and while that sounds like a fun, all-inclusive definition, it’s not a very useful one for composers. I’ll admit that any sound might be able to be used in a piece of music, but not every sound is music by itself.
Here’s an example: try searching online for “Dot Matrix Printer Symphony”. You will find a few examples of people who’ve taken the clicks and hums of an old printer and turned them into music. In my mind, if those people had just printed a document, the printer’s noises would not have been music, but because there was thought behind what the end result of the printer’s sounds would be, those sounds become music.
I’m probably going a bit too far into this. In any case, my definition for music is the one that I’m going to be using for the rest of my blog articles about music.
Next: Chapter 2: The Types of Instruments