Essentially ever since humans have been making music, we’ve tried to understand what it is, to categorize it, plumb its depths and understand its nature. Sometimes we kept things pretty simple; for instance, Plato defined music as a simple combination of words, melody, and rhythm.
And sometimes we got much, much more complicated. Boethius identified three kinds of music, including music made with instruments (including voices); the music made from the body and soul coming together; and what he called the harmony of the spheres, which was the music created by the relationships of the heavenly bodies (planets, stars, etc.) to each other.
Some even believe that music connects those heavenly bodies to the human body — for instance, the heart is connected to the sun, the moon is connected to the reproductive organs, Jupiter is connected to the kidneys. Each white note on a piano keyboard is associated with a planet in the geocentric system, and each note in the chromatic scale is connected to one of the 12 signs of the zodiac.
OK, that’s way out there. Let’s bring things down to earth a bit…
Where do you think music begins and ends? Does an earworm qualify as music? Is the tune a composer hears in their head music before they write it down? What about the pregnant silence after a song or a performance ends? What about silence in general?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Music is a continuum. Some of it is audible, some of it’s not, either because it’s just in the process of becoming, or because it has just been. Just because you’re not hearing the music, just because the physical sound waves that make up music aren’t hitting your ears doesn’t mean that the music doesn’t exist. Music isn’t called into existence when it becomes physical, it exists on a constant continuum of ebb and flow.
Just like us.
We as humans exist on a similar continuum. Because how can we say when a human begins or ends? It is once the heart beats in utero? At conception? When the parents fall in love? And where does a human end? At their last breath? Three days after death? When the physical body fully decays? When our memories of that person fade? The love that creates us and the wisdom we leave long outlast our physical condition. Just like music, we exist on a continuum in which physicality plays a very small part.
Which is why things like choir matter. Participating in one continuum — that of channeling music into physicality through our larynx and lungs — connects us to another fundamental continuum, which runs along our own lives and selves, hearts and souls.
Want to join us? We’d love to have you! Click here to find out where and how you can sing with us.