the Muse of Music Welcomes You
As Bach is the Shakespeare of music, so Shakespeare is
the Bach of literature.
what is music?
What words can describe music? Is there anything else like it? Music is
beyond words. Only The Muse Of Music can sing her song, and she is that
which she is.
what is music?—redux
Music is a term at once obvious and difficult to define. Nevertheless,
The Muse Of Music, who brings you these pages, dares the impossible by defining music thus. Music
- The art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in
significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and
- The tones or sounds employed, occurring in single line (melody) or
multiple lines (harmony), and sounded or to be sounded by one or more
voices or instruments, or both.
Any definition of music necessarily falls short of the reality.
Fortunately, definition is superfluous. The human faculty for recognizing
music when it is heard is innate and universal in the human race.
Notice these truisms about music:
- Not all sound is music but all music is sound.
- Some sounds are noise—loud, harsh, confused,
extraneous, irrelevant, or meaningless.
- Music can be loud, harsh, or confused, but it
is never extraneous, irrelevant, or meaningless.
- Many sounds are neither music nor noise.
Music is a kind of language—its own kind of
language—like speech, but not speech. Music does not trade in words as does
but nonetheless it is a language by which meaningful communication takes place. It uses
both arbitrary and innate sounds in conventional ways with conventional
meanings to convey facts and express feelings and ideas.
As with speech, music differs across boundaries of culture, nationality,
instrumentality, sound, and style. Yet, musical passages
are essentially the same as speech in this important respect: the potential
for understanding music is universal. No matter how much music may vary from
place to place or time to time, all musical passages have meaning and express
facts, emotions, and ideas that, with a little enculturation, can be
understood by all.
Every normal, healthy infant instinctively seems eventually to come to understand
the language of music. The path to self-perception probably starts in the
mother's womb, when the unborn child feels the mother's heart beat and other
rhythms, and later its own. This enate growth process is founded on innate
wiring which develops in the brain.
After birth, the learning process continues and is reinforced whenever a
child's parent nurtures, coddles, talks baby talk, reads a poem out loud, or
sings an infant to sleep with a lullaby, berceuse, or cradle song. Since the
sounds of vocalized music are similar to the sounds of speech, it continues
as the child starts to talk.
child develops to the point at which it can distinguish the difference
between undifferentiated babble, simple words, and musical
sounds—when it starts to hear and recognize musical passages
as expressions of ideas—it gradually comes to understand music for what it is,
even if it is too young to know the word for music or to know that it
understands. It understands this implicitly, without realizing.
Once a child crosses these developmental thresholds, it is capable of recognizing a musical passage
for what it is. It knows the difference between music, noise, and nonsense,
regardless of the nature of the music, the instrument, the musical period, tradition, or composer.
Defining music is a little like showing someone how to ride a bike or
roller-skate; it's a little like Zen. He can be told what to look for, but
the knowledge comes from within. Once a person sees, he does not forget.
About the music you're hearing
Picture for a moment, if you will, a musical grouping composed of
maracas, keyboard, cello, hand bells, dulcimer, and bagpipe. Improbable?
That's the group of instruments shown below.
Can you imagine what that conglomeration might sound like? What if they
were played out of tune and at different tempi? Perhaps the racket would
resemble the noise made by a clutch of drunken musicians yanked from under a
dead camel and dragged back home to China along the Silk Road!
The Muse can't begin to manufacture the sound it would make, thank goodness,
and won't try. Aren't you lucky? But The Muse can
reproduce other sounds, sounds that are much more pleasing to the ear than
those you might hear from our musical sextet.
Explore music Now
When you're ready to begin your exploration of music, The Muse suggests
that you start with some of these features:
Continue your exploration by visiting one of Muse Of Music's pages
listed in box titled Related Pages in the column at the right side of this page.
Look for additional features in Muse Of Music menus, The Muse Of Music
Index, and The Music Muse Table Of Contents.
music in ancient greece
Has it occurred to you that the word muse is in the word music?
The Muse Of Music proudly points out that the modern English word music
is ultimately derived from the Greek word for muses—from the Greek
expression art of the Muses. This derivation is an acknowledgement of
the fact that the Ancient Greeks thought
so highly of music they made it central to all the muses.
That's high praise, indeed, coming from so august a group.
The modern muses share their opinion of music with the ancients. Because music is so highly valued by all the muses, ancient and modern,
they all owe The Muse Of Music a special debt of gratitude,
- Get more of an idea of what the Ancient Greeks thought of music. Visit
The Muse Of Mythology's page called What's A Muse and look for the section
called About Ancient Greek Muses And Music:
- While you're there, learn more about the nine Ancient Greek muses and
their connection to the arts:
music and the modern muses
Music is just as important to Electricka and her modern-day cohort muses
as it was to the Ancient Greeks and their muses.
- See how Electricka, Muse Of the WorldWide Web© and her modern-day
cohort muses relate to music, Ancient Greece, and the original nine muses.
page called My Vision:
Electricka honors Euterpe, the ancient muse of music, and
respects Euterpe's modern counterpart, The Muse Of Music; she values
music as much as did the Ancient Greeks and more, if that's possible.
Accordingly, she has adopted a musical theme; it's the music she plays for
you every time you visit her home page.
- Learn more about Electricka's theme at her page called About
Electricka's theme Music:
Better yet, take Electricka's Tour first and you'll be better equipped to
explore her theme when it comes time for the Tour to take you to the About
Electricka's Theme Music page
tops & flops
At the Electricka's feature called Tops & Flops In The Arts,
see lists of music favorites and lists of other top-10s that have been submitted
by visitors to Electricka's web site, including lists of their
favorite composers, musical works, types of music, music periods, and lots
more. There, visitors can also submit their own
lists of favorites for other visitors to see at Electricka's web site.
- Explore lists of musical favorites and "dogs;" get ideas for works
and performances to hear. See lists of music periods and lots more that's of interest to
music lovers like you. Visit the feature called
Tops & Flops In The Arts now:
the muse of music wants your
Muse Of Music Index for a list of all the features belonging to The
Muse of Music: