The Language of Music

music sheet

“Ni hao ma? (How are you?) Wo hen hao, ni ne? (I’m good, how about you?)”

I admire those people who knows how to speak in other language (aside from English and Filipino) that only few people can understand.

Someone says, “To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

Language is the way you express yourself, your thoughts and views in life. Not only does everyone have a different perspective. When you know another language, you get a glimpse into how a different people think and live. That is a different vision of life. Your world opens up to include that other world. You understand “life beyond your own life, your own culture”.

Another famous quote, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” – Frank Smith. Other language allows you to connect and meet new people or just simply express yourselves in a different way.

Same goes to music. It has its own language that only fellow musicians can understand. Yea, sure, we can talk about songs, artists, lyrics and the meaning of it. But I cannot talk about scaling, chords or notes. I cannot go to a technical side on how to play it – if the person I’m talking to – doesn’t play any instrument. (See the language barrier there?) It’s like you’re saying “Wǒ néng tīng dào nǐ, dàn wǒ wúfǎ lǐjiě nǐ” which translates “I can hear you but I can’t understand what you’re saying.” It’s half-baked. You will know how to say any mandarin words but can’t actually make a conversation with a Chinese people.

It’s like knowing the names of the chords/notes but can’t actually play it or the other way around. Notes and Chords aren’t just dots or palatable letters on the music sheets, they have relationship to each other. Music theory provides invaluable tools, a road map for each new musical journey.

If through language we can tell others our feelings, wants, and needs… Our songs, our melody, can tell why it was written and played that way. Granted, there are countless musicians who could move you to tears while still not being able to tell an Ab from a C#. What they lack in music-theory knowledge they make up for with feel, creativity, and intuition. Certainly, you can’t fault someone for that. However, there does seem to be a pervasive attitude of willful ignorance amongst many musicians, a fear-based laziness.

Language learning takes effort. It takes time. It is difficult. But with diligence, you can learn and progress. You’ll see the value. You’ll appreciate what the newly acquired language offers you. This spurs you on to make more progress towards fluency. Same thing applies in knowing the language of music, or MUSIC AS A LANGUAGE ITSELF. Learn your music theory, family chords, scaling, notes. It will help you develop your intellect, emotions, ideas and feelings.


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