The Instigator
ATM
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
jp1999
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Music is not a world wide language

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2013 Category: Arts
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,304 times Debate No: 30880
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (16)
Votes (0)

 

ATM

Pro

I support the motion that music is not a universal 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
jp1999

Con

My Welcome
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.

Case #1
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


Let's take “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as an example of this. Here is a good link, with lyrics in the description.

Here is one of the verses I would like to focus on:

The brightest day that I can say

Coming for to carry me home
When Jesus washed my sins away,
Coming for to carry me home.

Can you see the religious meaning within this? No matter how much we can speak the lyrics of African work songs can just portray their meaning.

What you might say:

You may now say, "Im talking about the melodies, not the actual lyrics. They still are written in a country's language". True. So let me talk to you about another song.

Case #2a
This song is another working song which origionated in America. It originated in the gold mines on the Witwatersrand and was made by the miners. While the men were working, they sang songs. Working songs helped the workers to forget the boredom of their jobs. For example, they would, while using their pick-axes, sing songs to the rhythm of their action. The rhythm of these songs and the working action form a unit.

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.

But the point is, musically, that when someone hears a very clear beat, they can understand the song has meaning. In the circumstances this song was played within, the strong beat helped them mine.

Case #2b
Carrying on from the idea of mining songs and working songs, listen to this song. Its called "Hi Ho, Hi ho, it's off to work we go" is from Snow White and the seven Dwarfs.

Can you identify the mining sounds?
Can you picture the seven dwarfs going down to the mines?


Case #3
Lets take a look at purely instrumental songs. of course is Mozart's requiem!
Let's take a look at one of the many varying melodies;

Melody) This melody (d-c#-d-e-f) is from a Lutheran hymn, “When My Final Hour is At Hand.” This is ironic, as I believe this is the last big piece of music he wrote...In fact he died writing it. Besides that, he used a religious hymn, and this is a very noticeable tune. If you can recognise this, you can understand that the melody has religious meaning to it. More information on the exact song here: http://en.wikipedia.org...(Mozart)

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.
But, I now think I could feel, even as a naïve child hearing the piece for the first time, the presence of these quotes and these levels of meaning. This is the mystery of music- piece affects you with of all the layers of meaning in contains, whether you have the knowledge or experience to identify them or not. This theme permeates and its extrapolations, derivations and evolutions permeate the entire Requiem (including the movements supposedly written by Sussmayr). That it is not simply the notes d-c#-d-e-f but a hymn with a text and a history means that when Mozart when Mozart brings it back in the last 5 bars of the Lacrimosa as the last melodic idea of the first half of the Requiem (don’t tell me that was Sussmayr’s idea) he’s not merely creating a kind of thematic unity, but something deeper and more personal.

Summary

Case study One clearly shows the range of feelings that music can portray, through the use of lyrics. Lyrics however, are barely the main picture. Case studies Two a and Two b explain the use of certain rythms to portray certain ideas helps give a clear view on an idea. And Case study Three highlights how simple melody line copies from other songs or hymns can chime within a person and give them a certain feeling also.

Overall, the language needed to understand the range of feelings you must interpret is not specific to a group of people. It is a language we can all speak, because feeling something from the melodies, lyrics and rythms you hear is different from the spoken words one can hear normally.


Over to you Pro

Debate Round No. 1
ATM

Pro

Well said Con
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

Con

jp1999 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
ATM

Pro

ATM forfeited this round.
jp1999

Con

jp1999 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
ATM

Pro

ATM forfeited this round.
jp1999

Con

Foreword
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.

Debate Round No. 4
ATM

Pro

I am sure that any voter sees that I am a fresh face to the rules of debate. But Debate should be about good argument not good structure. Now in typing that I am very disappointed that you have now chosen to continue the argument, even though you advocated that we should discontinue. I did agree with reluctance, just because I have other things going on (like my music) and didn't want to push it.

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

Con

jp1999 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by jp1999 3 years ago
jp1999
Onto the third lesson, for which you have cited no evidence. So thus it is invalidated. Next!

THE INTELLECTUAL ADVOCATE HAS MADE A GRAMMAR MISTAKE *gasps*
"I think your trying to kid yourself," Uh-oh. From the person who was annoyed about me making grammar mistakes, he himself makes one. Oh the joys of hypocrisy. You are saying that I am possessive about trying to kid myself? You mean I am kidding myself?
And nope, I make a "massive spiel" because I have to defend myself, and I have to teach little kids how to behave and treat others, something their parents should have done.
"You obviously know nothing about music and just want to put your silly uneducated opinions out there to gratify your undeserved need of achievement. "
Coming from the person who in debate round #2, paragraph 2: "It seems to me that you are quite capable of interpreting and I would guess writing music yourself."
Hah, how you contradict yourself.
Can I also ask you to clarify how exactly I have no 'honor'?

Again, number 5, can you clarify how and why this means I have no honour? (No honour is not a spelling mistake, you Americans reduced most of the words in my language by a letter, so honour became honor, labour became labor etc etc. That is why we differentiate between English and American English)

Six. "And the rest of your comments aren't worth responding too. You are as stupid as your ignorance shows. Please get someone to explain that to you." Is that because my comments are valid and still stand? I see no flaws within them?

Please, tell me.
Posted by jp1999 3 years ago
jp1999
Onto your corrections or rebuttals of my comment a few days ago, for which I guess that you refrained to post back to until the debate's voting period had ended, given the poor conduct in it. Speaking of which, "Dumbing it down so you can understand --" not necessary. There is a place for offending somebody, and it is not here. As a Christian, I believe there is no place for insults as a whole. So stop it, huh kid? Don't try to make yourself look bigger by using big words and intelligent insults, because you really aren't that big.

I won't bother citing the whole comment, so just assume it is ordered like yours.

I didn't exactly make an ignorant comment. This is the statement in question:
"Considering that we were conveying in the comment tab i felt that there was a free and easy (non combatant) situation."
I wish to highlight how I came to the conclusion that you meant conversing or making conversation, rather than conveying. When somebody conveys something, it involves one person telling something to somebody else. There is a clear leader of that discussion. When somebody is having a conversation, it involves more than one person making phatic talk or otherwise.
So why did I assume it was a mistake? Here: "we were conveying" and "free and easy (non combatant) situation." It is clear there are two people within this discussion (disproving the conveying definition) and you felt free and easy over what we had discussed, obviously there was a friendly element, proving the definition of conversation. So I honestly cannot see how I am wrong on this occasion.

Moving on. The grammar IS correct. Allow me to rephrase it however, That is your feeling from the song, not everybody else's. That is exactly what I said, in different phrasing so you can understand it. And you actually did say you had to agree with it, look at the debate round #2, paragraph 1/2: "everyone would have to agree." When you were talking about the definition of language.

See next commen
Posted by jp1999 3 years ago
jp1999
Ok, I got a problem with what you have said. I never (at least I intended not to) insulted you directly in my comments, unlike you. During the debate I was hoping that I had met someone like me, that had ideas they wanted to share and debate about music. But no, who I actually met, was a sadistic oaf who is desperate to 'get his own back' at me after annoying him during the debate. In essence, you are a flaming 5 year old. I have no business with the likes of you, especially in situations so flawed like these, however you have insulted and offended me. I do not know which is worse, the flaming 5 year old side of you, or the petty insult side of you. Please read on to my next comment in which I show how YOUR comment was flawed and mine was not.

I will talk to you and explain the typos now however, ignoring the petty insult over intelligence...

People make mistakes over typos, some people more consistently, some less. I rarely make spelling mistakes and grammar errors, and this can often be down to the fact that I type so quickly, I can hit multiple keys at once.

I honestly do not see how one could lower themselves by pointing spelling errors, as they clearly are intelligent enough to point them out and have the decency to ignore them. My comment "I am very annoyed because again I have found another person who cannot spell." was simply to be sarcastic. Obviously you read too much into that and missed out on the point completely.
Posted by ATM 3 years ago
ATM
And please don't lower yourself even More By teling me I cant spel becaus if yu had any censce you would understand that there is such a thing as typos. (Oh, But the way I felt I had to dumb down my joke for you to understand it)

ATM Dude
Posted by ATM 3 years ago
ATM
Now you want to get into it. If you actually understood the English language then you wouldn't make such an ignorant comment like " Don't you mean conversing? Or making conversation?"
Meaning of conveying is, now watch closely you may learn from this, Make (an idea, impression, or feeling) known or understandable to someone

Now for your second lesson...
Answer: I see, well thats you feeling it. That is not everyone agreeing with it.
This was your second comment. And I must say that your statement was as flawed as your grammar.
I never said you had to agree with it, it just simply is true. SO deal with it.

Lesson three: Now if you can't count then I can't help you here. I just hope you have some degree of intelligence to follow what I am saying. You did at least go to grade three, right?

So your answer to my negative statement in relation to my experience in this site (which involves you as a major part of it) is "Then Leave" Is a reinforcement of the ignorant stupidity of the users that I seem to come across.

Lesson 4: LOL. So you state that I, am ruining the comment tab, when you made that massive spiel. I don't know who you are kidding mate. I think your trying to kid yourself, but I might be giving you too much credit. You obviously know nothing about music and just want to put your silly uneducated opinions out there to gratify your undeserved need of achievement. Oh and sorry but I was very considerate until you broke our agreement of the forfeit. By the way which was your suggestion. Therefore I again say you have no honor.

Lesson 5: Sorry to reiterate but I feel I need to do so when I am dealing with such an uneducated person. I will put it in another light for you. You are now blaming me for having respect for my opponent. Again I say.... No Honor.

Lesson 6: And the rest of your comments aren't worth responding too. You are as stupid as your ignorance shows. Please get someone to explain that to you.
I am ashamed at the level I have
Posted by jp1999 3 years ago
jp1999
Can I just walk you through your comment, so as to help me understand what you're whining about.

1) "Considering that we were conveying in the comment tab i felt that there was a free and easy (non combatant) situation."
Answer: Don't you mean conversing? Or making conversation? As for a free and easy situation, yeah I actually agree. But here is a lesson in life, whatever you type on the internet, or anywhere, you have to be happy for it to be taken and put in something.
2) "I feel that there is no respect in the place of debate."
Answer: I see, well thats you feeling it. That is not everyone agreeing with it.
3) "I again say that I am new in this site and I already have no respect for the conduct of the people who use this."
Answer: Then leave.
4) "If you want to argue in the comment TAB then I will do it."
Answer: Erm, derp. The comments tab is for making comments about something. It is also a place where the competitors can just confirm things and chat in a pleasant manner. I hate to be rude, but you are kinda ruining the point of them.
5) "YOU made the forfeit. YOU suggested the draw. Then suddenly YOU made another argument."
Answer: Well, you forfeited also. You could have just carried on. You could have ignored my suggestion, YOU could have posted another argument.
6) "I say that YOU are an opportunist."
Answer: I say that you need to brush up on your maturity.
7)"I said that i reluctantly chose to decline but it was also i the comment TAB therefore I didn't need to convey any reluctance."
Answer: Simple analogy of comments.

Im angry. Comment = Im angry
Im a bit concerned. Comment = Im a bit concerned.

No funny business, say what you mean boy.

8) "I am very annoyed because again I have found another person with no Honor."
Answer: I am very annoyed because again I have found another person who cannot spell.
Posted by ATM 3 years ago
ATM
Considering that we were conveying in the comment tab i felt that there was a free and easy (non combatant) situation. I feel that there is no respect in the place of debate. I again say that I am new in this site and I already have no respect for the conduct of the people who use this. If you want to argue in the comment TAB then I will do it. YOU made the forfeit. YOU suggested the draw. Then suddenly YOU made another argument. I say that YOU are an opportunist. I said that i reluctantly chose to decline but it was also i the comment TAB therefore I didn't need to convey any reluctance. I am very annoyed because again I have found another person with no Honor.
Posted by jp1999 3 years ago
jp1999
Hmm interesting that you think I have not been fair with this.
ATM, just in case you didn't see: I had left a comment saying that people would still to be able to vote, if we leave the debate up. I also state my full, and perfectly fair, reason in the foreword of the last argument.
I also would like to say that there is no reluctance in the comment you posted in agreement to my suggestion: "I would delete it but I can't see where to do it."
Ok, you have other things going on. But, I must be honest, so do I! If you had stuff going on, and you thought it could affect the debate, you shouldn't have started it in the first place.

Thats all I'm saying...
Posted by jp1999 3 years ago
jp1999
Problem is, people will still be able to vote....
Posted by ATM 3 years ago
ATM
Yeah already tried that we'll just have to wait it out sorry
No votes have been placed for this debate.