Music is not a world wide language
Definition of Language - It should support, that when someone makes a motion of any specific sort it can be comprehended by the recipient in the same way that it was intended.
I let my opponent start the argument.
But please stay within the common sense of the argument. My last and first argument didn't even address the issue. I just assumed that people on this site would be intelligent enough to realize what is assumed. Instead of using it as a crutch.
Hence my definition of Language. LOL
I wish to thank Pro for allowing me to debate with him in a topic I work within and follow almost like a religion.
Please listen to the music, and listen to it carefully. It will help you understand my points!
The videos you see
These are recordings of the songs I mention throughout the case studies, please select them one by one. I understand the order they appear to you is the order I mention them. Any problems regarding this, let me know in the comments.
Burden of proof
I wish to point out, that the instigator must bear the burden of proof on this topic. I am merely here to defend music because it is a comepletely different type of language to that of something like Spanish or German. I will state an argument with (if any) proof I can find, and then we can rebute that as and when neccessary. However, Pro must state the arguments as it is his resolution. I only will state an argument so that we can get the debate moving. To summarise; I am being nice - the burden of proof is really on you, Pro.
I wish to use a spiritual song (folk like) for this case study.
Spirituals originated in America. Years ago (before 1865) during the period of slavery, Africans were imported from the West African coast to work as slaves on the plantations. While the slaves worked, they sang work songs that were based on traditional folk music from Africa. These songs were sung to express their personal feelings and to encourage one another. After work they sang in the camps. They sang sections of texts from the Bible and melodic parts of songs, which they heard outside churches (Western music). They used these “bits and pieces” of music and texts to compose their own spirituals of hope and faith.The first form of spirituals was called shouts - the remnants of a primitive African dance. Men and women stand in a circle and start dancing, clapping hands and stamping their feet, initially slowly and then faster and faster. The same musical phrase is repeated for hours until everyone is in a trance. This led to women falling down and shouting and tired men leaving the circle.The lyrics of spirituals are closely related to their "composers", the slaves. Working songs are based on daily lives, whereas spirituals are based on the message of the Bible, "You can be saved." They could identify with Biblical figures like Joseph (who was sold as a slave by his brothers) and the Jews who were also slaves in Egypt. They believed that they would be helped and freed, just as the Lord helped the Biblical figures.The lyrics are thus based on a longing for freedom and a better land. Words like "Home" and "Canaan's land" are used often and are symbolic of their search for a better life in this world as well as in the hereafter. As with folk music, the "composers " of most spirituals are unknown, as they were passed down by word of mouth. The words differ from region to region as people added their own words when the original words were forgotten
The song is called Shosholoza and during it you can imitate the picking action to the rhythm of the music. One can imagine the mine workers singing this while working. Unfortunately, due to the very small amount of people who know about this song, a sountrack has not been posted on YouTube yet.
So, in this opening, Mozart is already combing the personal with the universal- the terror of the one facing “my final hour” with the grief of the nation in the face of incalculable loss. I can still remember hearing this piece for the first time- it is one of the earliest musical memories of my childhood. This very opening appeared in a dramatization of Mozart’s life for radio I heard when I was about 5. I remember thinking it was the saddest music I’d ever heard. I still feel that way- knowing where Mozart took his building blocks from doesn’t change my understanding of or reaction to the music. Sad music sounds sad- you don’t need an owner’s manual to understand it.
I can certainly feel and picture all the things you say. I personally have no problem in interpreting music.
As I have been a guitarist and music writer for 20 years I can say in my experience that Music is not a universal language. I have seen situations where such a simple thing as a minor chord won't make someone feel sad. If you polled an amount of people yes the vast majority would agree that the minor chord makes them feel sad. But in order to be a universal language everyone would have to agree.
Even within my own bands we have disputed the feel of a song we've written. Now that is a group of musicians. You may say "well if that's the case then they aren't very good musicians". But therein lies the proof of how music is not a universal language.
Then you can come to children, as you have used yourself as an example. It seems to me that you are quite capable of interpreting and I would guess writing music yourself. But Also in my girlfriends class of grade 1's and 2's they have performed exercises where they play a sad song and ask them how that song makes them feel. Yes, some say happy. Granted they haven't truly developed their feelings yet as they are young but just elaborating on your experience from your own memory as a child.
Then you can come to people who suffer from Autism. Yes this seems unfair that I am using this as an example but it still counts as they are people too. Extremely autistic people can't process their feelings as well as others. Therefore may not be able to feel the music. Not understand the intention.
The next point I would like to make would be what, people actually listen to in music. Lyric, Lyrical melody, Instrument melody, Rhythm. You can write a song that sounds good with lots of upbeat rhythms and chirpy melodies, yet have the Lyrics paint a picture of despair. Ask someone "So what about that song. Explain it to me" Someone who listens to the lyrics will explain the lyrical content, and not the music behind it. So then you would say "So it's a sad song then." And they would agree and would be right on some level. On the other side, the person who listens to the instrument rhythms and melodies, and doesn't pay any attention to the subject matter will say the opposite. There we have a disagreement. Which means that the song, being music isn't universal.
Every language has to be interpreted correctly otherwise it has failed. That's the point of language.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
jp1999 forfeited this round.
ATM forfeited this round.
jp1999 forfeited this round.
ATM forfeited this round.
I have decided that we have had an equal number of forfeits each, and the situation created will simply take away two rounds. I will rebute Con's points now, and then we will summarise our arguments in the final round. I rebute like this, take a quote and answer it. So without further ado...
"Even within my own bands we have disputed the feel of a song we've written. Now that is a group of musicians."
Answer: People cannot always agree on the feel or message of a song simply because we interpret it in different ways. Lets take a step backwards and look at spoken language. When someone is talking in a certain tone, one person might think this tone to be a bit rude whereas another person might think it is a completely different one. Lets go back a bit further, and look at written language. How someone writes can be interpreted differently from person to person, culture to culture and country to country. One might read a sentence that read "You what?" and one person might interpret it as a question, whereas another may interpret it as a statement "You WHAT!!!!" .
My point is, Musical Language is the same, it is always interpreted in different ways. Any language is interpreted in different ways!
"Then you can come to children, as you have used yourself as an example. It seems to me that you are quite capable of interpreting and I would guess writing music yourself."
Answer: Thank you, its nice to see other talented advocates of music every now and again!
"But Also in my girlfriends class of grade 1's and 2's they have performed exercises where they play a sad song and ask them how that song makes them feel. Yes, some say happy."
Answer: Again, it unfortunately comes down to the interpretation argument.
"Then you can come to people who suffer from Autism. Yes this seems unfair that I am using this as an example but it still counts as they are people too. Extremely autistic people can't process their feelings as well as others. Therefore may not be able to feel the music. Not understand the intention."
Answer: Actually, it can be quite the opposite. Having done a small amount of work with a musical therapist, playing my piano or trumpet or whatever to a SEN/D Child is fascinating. (SEN/D stands for Special Education Need/Disorder), those with autism having musical therapy often are of very little words. But music makes them SING!! Music makes them express feelings when spoken language doesn't. Music is a language SEN/D Children can understand!!
"Ask someone "So what about that song. Explain it to me" Someone who listens to the lyrics will explain the lyrical content, and not the music behind it. So then you would say "So it's a sad song then." And they would agree and would be right on some level. On the other side, the person who listens to the instrument rhythms and melodies, and doesn't pay any attention to the subject matter will say the opposite. There we have a disagreement. Which means that the song, being music isn't universal."
Answer: True. Words often paint a different picture than the actual instrumental music. But listen to this song, one of my ex-girlfriends from university like this band. I don't much, but this helps me prove my point: The instrumental part of the song cannot quite be interpreted as sad, as its in a major key, but obviously I would contradict myself if I didn't say that it could be interpreted as sad. But from what I get from the song, is that the lyrics are sad and the music is happy. This does not in any way show that music is not a universal language. Two people listening to two different parts and giving two different viewpoints is independence, not misunderstanding.
"Every language has to be interpreted correctly otherwise it has failed. That's the point of language."
Answer: No, no, no. There is no 'correct way' of interpreting a language, of understanding a song or anything. We interpret it in our own way, its like in ethics with the big question: Is there a God? There is no correct answer, we just have to decide for ourselves.
I can see that you have focused on my interpretation argument. This is an extension of your own argument which now you are making a contradiction of. I would think that a contradiction is also an act of defeat.
But never the less I will continue......
The reason why Music is not a universal language is because it can be interpreted in different ways. We all know that tone in the speaking language can be misleading but that is because the person receiving the message doesn't understand what the sender is saying.
I also would sound like I am contradicting myself, but will clarify with the following.
If I said to a person "I think you are the stupidest person I have ever met" They will never, not understand the meaning. No matter what tone I gave it.
But with music the uninformed could not understand the meaning of the song.
If this is not enough then I give up.
jp1999 forfeited this round.