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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Does language affect music

    I like to study music. But I like to study languages too. I've seen the same musical scale being used by modern rock guitarists and Rajastani folk artists. Major scale, is used in many cultures across the world to create music. There are many technical facets that make music sound different, though played the same phrase. Tuning of instruments, technique of playing, timbre of instruments etc. But I want to think of it as an effect of language.
    To put things into perspective, Mongolians have a throat singing habit. This let's out a low, growling sound, which is accompanied by suitably tuned string instruments. There are certain sounds missing or added in a language, and the melody written by people of that culture follow these changes in language. We know how most Hindi/Urdu words end with "ei" sound. Hence the melodies written in Hindi language lyrics, follow the pattern of notes accordingly. Tribal music from African countries have an odd rhythm played in fast tempo to back the legato singing of the performer. Legato is where you continuously sing notes without breaks. And the most "in the face" example is, Medieval church choir singing in Latin languages, where a performer emphasises and holds a note when O or A sound is made. Spanish is a mouthful language. So we see staccato singing in Spanish songs. Staccato is the opposite of Legato, where notes are sang with regular breaks. Language isn't just a tool. We humans are routinely shaped by our language. Do you see the same or want to differ with this observation?
  • #697006
    Music is same everywhere and what changes is the tune, tone and frequency combinations. Some instruments can create vibrating sounds and some play very softly without any appreciable vibrations. So if you only hear a music you would not be able to tell to which region it belongs until unless you are an expert in the frequency combinations of the different places. Good musicians know this fact and understand the basic music perceptions. Now, language is a spoken thing above that music and the singer tries to match his ups and downs in the octaves beautifully to match with the music and better he matches a better singer he is assumed to be. A good composer knows how to match a song with a tune. So, language would affect music only to the extent that it diverts the mind of the listener to the language and not the subtleties of music and there comes the power of lyrics over the music. I remember there was a music composition in the English movie 'Come September' and this was very famous and if you listen to that you would be surprised with its elegance and effect on our senses. Some Hindi movie maker took this tune in his film and composed a song on it, something like - "Rim jhim rim jhim moti ke dane .... ....". Unfortunately the song failed miserably and was not popular. So, this is one example where I found the effect of language on a beautiful melody.
    Knowledge is power.

  • #697013
    Good reply Umesh. I totally agree with you in everything but one. Some melodies take us to a certain place. If I played you a tune, even on a flute or on a sitar and not an oud, you can still tell me it sounds a bit "Arabic". Such is the power of music I assume. Despite individual creativity in the field, a region is always associated with a particular style and voicing of music. Even kids can tell if what they are hearing sounds Chinese or Gujarati or Egyptian, even before words of the song enters. I think such is the association we develop with music and ultimately language.
    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

  • #697016
    Aditya, you are right in telling that the music of a place has an inherent signature of the reflections of culture and traditions of that place and the community but it requires some knowledge of those elements or components of that society before analysing or identifying that piece of music. Another important thing in this matter is due to commercialisation of the music and associated art forms, there has been a lot of mixing between the different musics of different places and it is common to hear the famous music lines or pieces in songs composed by different people in different parts of the globe. I am always fascinated by a soft and soothing music and there are many such songs available in different places in the world which when you hear without lyrics, you feel at your home place. Have you anytime experienced such a thing? I insist hear it without the lyrics because lyrics would distract us from the melody.
    Knowledge is power.

  • #697019
    If you want to enjoy the language is no barrier. Every music is played as per the set notes and that is the same for everyone to follow. I was amazed to see the philharmonic music rendition done by Zubin Mehta maestros who are from different countries and yet the music convergence were so perfect and even the conductor Zubin Mehta is aware every note coming next. Likewise Ilayaraja and A R Rehman played to the world renowned musicians who are from different countries and yet the music harmony was the same. So this proves that music has no language and we must have the courage and pride to enjoy the same whether it may be played by the Indian or other artistes. In this regard I wish to add that Arabian music is some what fast and has the typical character of desert flavor in their every rendition. And the music played on piano has the great receivers.
    K Mohan @ Moga
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #697047
    As mentioned, Music is everywhere and in everything. We can hear the sound and it can be soothing or disturbing but it has a flow that catches our attention. If we hear the interviews of musicians or music composers, they say that sound used in songs was created by suing this or that. It can be waterfall, breaking of glass, hammering on an iron plate, horn of vehicles, just a snip of fingers, using a comb, pot, birds chirping, the hush of the wind, rain, the splash of water, etc. When everything used in the perfect way or rhythem gives a good music. It is also a noted thing that every place has their own music and it differs with place to place. If we take our country, India, the music changes from north to south and east to west. Every region has their own music, same as the language. When I say Music, its the pitch and type. The north has some high pitching and tune while south has low pitching i.e. uses bass sound in singing. The music has evolved and now it has become universal and everyone wants to learn mix but when we talk about basic, its pitching has a lot of importance as we can easily recoganise the type of music and the region. If an arabic song or nepale or spanish or Indian music is played, we can easily hear the difference as the language. Many use only single voice while some use 2, some 3 pitching like suprano, alto, treble, bass, etc. When everything is used in a ssingle song, we say its the voices but music uses different pitches to feel the difference.
    “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in." — Morrie Schwartz

  • #697059
    Music can be enjoyed even though we don't know the language. But we will have more enjoyment if we know the lyrics and the meaning as well. When we hear a song from an unknown language we feel happy about the music and the meaning of the lyrics we can't understand. But if the same music we hear with a language known to us we will definitely get delighted with the whole song where the tunes and lyrics will contribute. Annamacharya Keertanalu, I heard many times in Telugu and I used to like the way the songs were sung by Bala Krishna Prakash. Sometimes I sit just without any reactions even after completing the song. But the same songs by the same singer in another southern language I heard. Even though I can make out the song and the meaning, I couldn't enjoy word to word of that song as I am not having any understanding of that language.
    Music has no boundaries and irrespective of the lyrics the music will be admired by the animals also. But we will have a better feeling if the language is also known.

    always confident

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