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Presentation on theme: "B EAUTIFUL Q UESTION P ROJECT By: Sabrina Schores PHL 103."— Presentation transcript:


2 I S MUSIC A LANGUAGE THAT NEEDS WORDS ? O R DOES IT COMMUNICATE THROUGH OTHER MODES ? Through the course of this presentation we will explore the multiple aspects of language, with a large focus on music as a language: What exactly is a language? What is a language composed of?

3 W HY THIS TOPIC INTERESTS ME I believe that music is something that has the ability to bring everyone together. Instead of using words and traditional languages to communicate amongst ourselves, emotions and sounds are used to portray a message. Languages have created cultural barriers spreading us apart while music has the ability to create unity and bring us all together. Languages are how we communicate to one another and function through our daily lives. They are a vital aspect of our survival. I have personal experience with playing instruments and feel as if music allows everyone to communicate on an even playing ground. But how can we prove this? Let’s harmonize and unify each culture and all of its diversities. First, we have to identify the many aspects of language. This needs to be done before exploring the actual language of music; if music even qualifies as its own language.

4 S URVEY : Using Survey Monkey I presented the public with 6 different questions regarding music and language Here is the link to the survey for anyone else who would like to further their thought process on language as well as the possibility of music as a language

5 The six survey questions included: 1. What is your definition of a language? 2. What is a language composed of? (words, emotions etc..) 3. What influences your music choice? Pick all that apply Current mood, environment, it’s what I always listen to, life events, other 4. Do you believe it is possible for people who speak different languages to communicate though the same type of music? Choose the best answer. Yes, no, I don’t know 5. Is it possible to pass emotions back and forth with sound? Choose the best answer. Yes, no, I don’t know 6. Do you believe music has the ability to influence a person’s mood and current emotions? Choose the best answer. Yes, no, I don’t know

6 A NALYSIS OF SURVEY : Answer Choices – Responses – –Current mood 100.00% –Environment 57.14% –It's what I always listen to 42.86% –Life events 42.86% –Other 0.00% Total Respondents: Question #3 asking about the influences of personal music choice was the most largely disputed question with varying responses. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and people listen to music for a variety of personal reasons ultimately influencing their music choice

7 A NALYSIS : When asked about the definition of a language people stated: “Something people can use to express or define something.” “A language is communication between people, it can be words or actions or pictures etc.” Overall, people’s responses stated how language is some type of communication and expression amongst groups of people. This shows we all think relatively the same about language as a whole in the sense that it is communication amongst the same type of people. But what about communication amongst multiple diverse groups? This will be explored in later slides.

8 A NALYSIS : When people described their thoughts on the composition of a language they stated: “Words, nonverbal communication (eye contact, hand motions, etc.), feelings, past experiences” “Language is composed of words, symbols, actions, motions, and emotions” Overall, people feel language is made up of anything from emotions to more tangible things like written words. If this is the case then how is music portrayed as a language? This will be explored in later slides.

9 A NALYSIS : When people were asked if it was possible to pass emotions and moods around with the sounds of music the answer was unanimously YES. This goes to show that higher communication, not necessarily involving words, goes on between those who listen to and create music. Artists and musicians create music because they want to portray a message and share it with others. Sometimes music is created in response to other forms of music allowing for an unspoken language and form of communication to develop. With this being said, does music create unity amongst diversity? Does that qualify it as not only a language but a universal language?

10 W HAT DOES THE PUBLIC THINK ? Through my survey and additional research I have gathered that: Many believe a language has the ability to communicate through sound, mood and emotions giving music the ability to be a unique language in itself. This point of view shows how the language of music exists. Sounds and emotions can portray messages heightening communication amongst groups of people. Some people believe music is just something that enhances languages but is not its own individual language. To them, languages are only composed of words describing events and emotions. External emotions such as body language just add to languages and improve their overall presentation

11 W HAT DOES THE PUBLIC THINK ? ( CONTINUED ) Others are not sure where they stand but believe emotions are not only portrayed through spoken words but through body language and overall demeanor of ones mood. Mood and external language is an important way of proper communication. When relying on strict spoken words a large amount of the message may be lost. To them music may enhance a language but is not a language in its entirety. All of these points are valid. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but answers to the overall questions of “is music a language that needs words? Or does it communicate through other moods?” will continue to be explored.

12 L ETS TAKE A DEEPER LOOK … Sigur Ros: Icelandic pop-rock bank from, Reykjavik Active since 1994 Known for their ethereal sound They are a unique group of men who use forms of communication in their songs that are universal They often compose songs using the language they call, Vonlenska Vonlenska is a non-literal language that forms unintelligible lyrics In Vonlenska there is no fixed syntax. It lacks grammar, definite meaning and even distinct words

13 E XPLORING V ONLENSKA : In this form of communication the focus is entirely on the sound of language as opposed to the words and what they directly tell you Non emotive vocals and the use of melody and rhythm to portray messages are what sets this group miles apart from others With extensive focus on mood and melody you are free to interpret this music as you please There is no right and wrong, no judgment, just freedom of the mind to listen at its own luxury, you have the ability to enjoy the music and all that it has to offer When looking at Vonlenska, do you think music has the abilities to break down the barriers of diversity and create unity amongst diverse groups of people? My personal thoughts say yes, music is interpretation of the sound being heard through mood, melody and emotion. Those are things we all understand and can relate to on a personal level unlike the harsh words of reality separating us all from one another.

14 S IGUR R OS AND V ONLENSKA : http://stormur.sigur- For a further look on Vonlenska look at the link above. There is a video of their song Stormur. Interpret it at your own will, remember there is no right or wrong answer, just emotions and sound telling a story

15 F ROM THE DESK OF A PHILOSOPHER : During my research I came across: Philosophy Forums: Music as a language (Discuss your thoughts on music as a language) Multiple viewpoints were brought to my attention: Instead of viewing music objectively, like a one-way street between listener and composer, it is more of a conversation Musical chemistry is an element of passing “back and forth emotion with sound, to form as one with other musicians on a different plane” (Peace-monkey, Philosopher) Each genre is its own language made up of different styles, standards and scales Music is a body language in the sense that it is auditory, like speech but more so a movement, like a gesture. Our body is an instrument

16 Q UOTES FROM FAMOUS AND RESPECTED INDIVIDUALS : "Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same." ~ John Denver ~ "I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality." ~ H. A. Overstreet (1894-1985) ~


18 A CCORDING TO THE DICTIONARY … Official definitions of language found in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary include: “The words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community” “Audible, articulate, meaningful sound as produced by the action of the vocal organs” “A systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings”

19 O VERALL A NALYSIS Look at the third definition displayed on the previous slide, “A systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings.” This statement shows how a language does not have to be spoken or written to be considered valid. Language is able to show signs of understood meaning through sounds, gestures and even emotions to be able to properly relay a message and be considered valid.

20 O VERALL A NALYSIS Definition of music: “An art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.” Definition of language: “A systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings” How do these two definitions relate to one another?

21 O VERALL A NALYSIS Both language and music are forms of communication and are portrayals of the emotion at hand. They both encompass various emotions, influence moods and have the ability to stimulate a person’s thought process at that point in time. Each and every person communicates through a language. No matter if that language is English, French, Spanish, Sign-language or many others, nonetheless we are all communicating with one another. We are not only speaking words but passing on emotions and giving off sound from our vocal cords and displaying motions from our body language. Languages are passageways for communication of people and their cultures. Music allows for effective communication between people and their cultures but does so in ways foreign to the ordinary person. Music does not need words to communicate and be considered a language, just sounds that compromise mood, feelings and overall emotions. Music has been proven to heighten a child’s developmental thought process, improve depressive states of mind and be used for other therapeutic reasons. It allows us all to communicate with one another without worrying about proper use of grammar and helps us relay a feeling without the use of words. Because it has the ability to improve overall lifestyle, trigger emotions, alter mood and give off a sound it is seen as its own language in the sense that it allows us to effectively and efficiently communicate with each other. The language of music is universal. It does not discriminate and is easily understood from culture to culture. Even though spoken words in certain types of music may not be understood universally, the mood and emotions portrayed by the music have the ability to be universally comprehended. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, especially regarding musical preferences. That does not hinder the fact that music has the ability to be widely understood and is used for various forms of communication. The type of communication regarding music is judgment free, there is no right or wrong, it is just music. Due to this factor, cultural barriers are no longer present when music is taken into consideration. Everyone has the ability to communicate through the language of music, no matter how experienced or unexperienced they are musically. Enjoy the sounds your ears are capturing for they are things that all people are hearing and interpreting quite similarly.


23 W ORKS C ITED : Koelsch, S., Gunter, T. C., Zysset, S., Lohmann, G., & Friederici, A. D. (2002). Bach speaks: a cortical “language-network” serves the processing of music. Neuroimage, 17 (2), 956-966. Medina, S. L. (1990). The Effects of Music upon Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition. Merriam-Webster (2014). Encyclopedia Britannica Company. Retrieved from http://www.merriam Schores, S. (4/14/14). Survey Monkey. In Survey Monkey. Retrieved 4/14/14, from Sigur, R. (2013). Sigur Ros. In Kveikur. Retrieved 4/15/14, from Unknown (2014). Music as a language. Philosophy Forums. Retrieved from a-language-65392.html.

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