CUA New Voices

So what do you think is music? Is it this?

Well, technically it is, so you’re right.  However, what I want to focus on is not the notes on the page but the tunnel it creates. That seemingly infinite number of possibilities of what music can be.  The reason I’d like to keep this open “definition” of music is the minute you define what music is – is exactly when you define also what it is not.

Since art is about expression, I firmly believe that art in all it’s forms should be inclusive.  If you set limits, you may have the benefit of weeding out some weaker forms, but also you exclude what could evolve into the next great phenomenon.

In order to think about the progression of music, I thought about the oldest kind of music I could think of – Gregorian Chant.

Now I’m not saying this music isn’t beautiful, because it most certainly is.  But imagine if no one had ever thought of music as outside the sacred realm? Music used to just be for holy men as a way of praising God. If we’d never thought beyond that, we never would have gotten instruments.

Not to mention we wouldn’t be able to use humor or irony in music like the great Franz Josef Haydn (who did have incredible wit composing his symphonies even in 1791). He literally startled the pants – or knickers those crazy people wore back then – off of his audience.

And how did that evolve into the modern rock music of today – one of my personal favorites, Freddie Mercury in Queen?

The fact is, we wouldn’t have any of it unless we had people who pushed the boundaries and found ways to express themselves in different ways.

I can only think of one person who pushed the boundaries and exemplified this concept better than any other – and that is the world renowned composer John Cage. He “composed” the piece 4’33″. He dared to push the boundaries and compose a piece which could be different every time that it was performed.

This magnificent piece consisted of the orchestra sitting down, warming up, and then settling before the first downbeat. When the composer gives the first downbeat – they continue to sit in silence for exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds. It is the sounds of the audience, the orchestra, the space creaking, and other sounds which made the music.  If we had a finite definition of what music was – as a story made of notes on a page performed by instruments and voices – this piece would never have even happened.

Before I ever start writing about the different various forms of music, and you become skeptical about certain choices I make – I wanted to humbly request that you to keep an open mind because any combination of sounds could be considered music. And limiting music’s capability for infinite generation simply does not do this magnificent art form any justice. Just as stories should infinitely be able to be written, photos taken, sculptures sculpted, and pictures painted, so should music be sounded.

Because I have always been passionate about music, and I thought blogging would be an excellent avenue for my thoughts and ideas. I’ve been in marching and concert bands for 10 or so years playing flute/piccolo, so music has been a huge part of my life. Many great forms of music and literature often go unappreciated in my field – so I’m here to make sure that they’re noticed and share them with other passionate artists and musicians.