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Author Topic: The Color of Music - How sound can change a life  (Read 1976 times)

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Offline KorenTopic starter

The Color of Music - How sound can change a life
« on: January 08, 2013, 08:22:50 AM »
The Color of Music - How sound can change a life

1.The art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.
2.The vocal or instrumental sound produced in this way.

Music is something that the entire world knows.
In various forms, ways and expressions, everyone gets exposed to music, from the smallest child being sung to as it sleeps or wakes, to old men and women to dance to songs from their childhood or the events that they have passed through.
Whether it is singing a song, playing an intrument, listening to such things on the radio or at a concert, or even watching someone learn and the delight at figuring out the next skill or level, so many people all over the world get enjoyment from music.

And why not. Music and instruments are far older and more complex then many people know. Its not just a human invention, many birds use natural objects to make or enhance sounds to attract a mate or for other purposes. Most of us know about whale songs, how they use their voice to communicate with others in their group. And there is a reason that music catches on so quickly and even people when trying to decribe a voice they like might describe it as musical.
There are so many different ways that music can be expressed, from hymns, to chant, song and chorus, instrument, quartets, bands, orchestras and ensembles. You have your types from classical to pop, rock and alternative, and all of musics many languages and forms as well.
Music has been used to inspire and to provoke, to communicate and to motivate, from wars to slavery, prayer and funeral songs, musicals and even plays.

Ive been in my choir for ten years now and I have been exposed to so much of it, in many different ways. Music has been a great influence in my life. Whenever I feel down or upset, a song is always the first thing in my mind. I wake with a song on my lips, and go to sleep with one in my head. Sometimes the same song, sometimes not. Often songs will just come to me, seemingly from no where, just rising into my mind and taking hold usually until I sing it to death or pull out my sheet music and come up with new harmonies or perfect something in it. I use to sit at school when I had nothing to do and see how many lyrics of all my songs that I could write out in their entirity, and then go home and groan at the ones I missed. Ive used songs in essays I had to write for school and as inspirtation for many many assessments at university.
Music has been a vital part of my life, even saving it when I was my most down and upset, providing me the strength to keep going week to week, just so I could get to thrusday and my next rehersal.

And of course, everyone interpruts music in different ways. Some people like only one type of music, and others many. Even people who have a very strong appreciation of music and of the work behind it can have very different tastes in music. What they listen to wont ever be the same as the person next to them, for the way you hear it and respond to it will always be different

Music brings people together.
Music can change a life

More to come...

Offline Thalorian

Re: The Color of Music - How sound can change a life
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2013, 11:38:29 PM »
Awesome thoughts and so true.  As a fellow musician, this speaks to the very essence of my being!  Thanks for the pleasant read.

Offline Trieste

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Re: The Color of Music - How sound can change a life
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2013, 10:13:57 AM »
I clicked this thinking it would be a post about synesthesia. >.>

It wasn't, but I'm glad I clicked! :)

Offline KorenTopic starter

Re: The Color of Music - How sound can change a life
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2013, 11:00:36 AM »
Thanks to both of you for your comments. I'm glad that you enjoyed reading it.
I had actually considered incorporating synesthesia into one of the posts I plan to do but not having it myself I didn't want to do guess work :)

And while I'm here I might as well write another entry

The definition of music incorporates both the words of art and science.
Music is both and neither.

There is so much science that goes into music. There are millions of tones that we can hear, from your standard octaves to the smaller tones in between them and going all the way down even more, to the almost microscopic changes that only a computer could reliably and consistently pick up. There is science in the way that we hear music, the way that the notes work and form together to create sound, pleasing or not. And there is science in the way that music is put together, to form said emotions and to put every note in its place, to be able to mix and match chords and rhythms and parts to be able to create and entire piece.

Its often said that many people who are good at music also have good math skills on some level or another. It may not be the ability to accurately complete an entire page of algebra, but its more the simple fundamentals of math that many musicans have a greater grasp on. I plan on doing a greater piece later on to explain some of the basics of music to those who have not had a tution or even any great exposure to the foundations of music, but the basics of all notes, how long a not is held is done in fractions. A whole note, half not, quarter note, eighth note, sixteenth note and even note divisions that all come into place. The number four itself is a great foundation in most music, for most music that we are exposed to in every day life is set to a rhythm of sets of four.
And biology goes into it as well. What notes sound good together to our ears and what dont. The way that our ears can naturally pick up one note and replicate it and match it. When playing an instrument how the slightest change in posture for things like string instruments can change the sound that is produced, and for a vocalist, how notes carry from the voice box, using your body to resonate and support the low notes, and your soft palate to raise and lift out the high notes (in fact very little singing has to do with your actual throat at all). The tone of a male voice and a female voice, and how they can fit together, and the science of the vocal box, how some men can sing so high and beautifully and some women can trumpet out the lowest notes, lower then some men.
In a way it all comes back to science so much more then we know.

But there is art in music as well. A delicateness that is like painting. How the parts weave together, one soaring and one diming before swapping, how a single instrument can seem so lonesome but add just one more and it could well be a clan. The way a hundred voices can sound like one, and four voices in a quartet can sound like many more. The highs and the lows of music, and how some pieces can just reach out and touch peoples hearts, no matter what they may be or what era or style they comes from, that some pieces can just resonate with people. I have seen people of all ages, genders and races cry at my concerts, for just once piece will bless them with a memory or emotion.
The way that certain notes can be used to be joyus, or cold, celebratory or solemn, and how certain styles seem to go through the ages and so consistantly, carry such meaning and purpose to them. The art of painting with notes and words. Emotions, lives, memories, it can all soar through music like it can any other art form, from paintings to sculpture, video games or movies. There is an art to playing an instrument or singing whether alone or in a crowd of people.
And there is a definite art in conducting as well which is another piece I plan to write

While writing this I was listening to a recording of one song I particular love from choir, a recording that we did of it on our choir website and smiling and laughting and even tearing up at it. Remembering the tour we did it on. Smiling at the one man I could hear just slightly off pitch, and knowing how much he has improved. Laughing at the comments we got back after this recording from the judge of our compeition. And singing along with my part that I love so dearly, occasionally swapping over into the other parts that I learnt from ear and my sheet music, and then laughing when Id get lost within what my part is doing in that song, as I often do (its so hard to keep track sometimes when you know the entire song of what you are meant to be doing and not what you want to do, or what you use to do).
And in my head I could see the notes on the page, how it was all layed out, the ins and outs, things I was meant to remember and things I did anyway. Little things like notes I got wrong and counting out the beats in my head, making subtle adjustments in my very raw and lately unused vocal box to correct notes that I was off just a tiny fraction. Now it is barely concsious but I realise how much work goes into a single piece.

Music wouldnt be possible without the art and science that combine so perfectly to make it so, and neither aspect of it can be ignored.

As always, more to come.

Offline KorenTopic starter

Re: The Color of Music - How sound can change a life
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2013, 02:02:07 AM »
I found this video a while ago, something that really struct at me was the way that it looked at music from an  incredibly scientific and mathematic stand point, something not often done these days. And while that may deter you, watch it anyway, for I think youd find it quite incredible all around

It also makes a good point. Within music a lot of it sounds similar. In fact almost every pop song that is played over the radio find into the same structure of four chords (a chord is a grouping of notes, a tone apart from the next, that sound harmonic to the ear), and fit almost the same identical structure as far as their composition of verses, chorus' and the bridge of the song, the bring being that little bit that is just slightly different from the rest of the song that links to the repeat of the chorus'. I have sat down with people at my choir and tested this often, sat there and listed the chords before they appeared in the song and what verse would come next, and been accurate for every song that we listened to.

Why is it then, that with millions of songs out there, these pop songs are the ones on the market and sold to us more then any other? The video below goes into that more but I also have another theory
Society. Music of course is an intensely social thing. After all, it fits into the old saying of "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it does it still make a noise?" Well the answer is surprisingly no. Noise as we percieve it (to my understanding) is simply sound waves moving through the air, but they dont actually create noise as we know it until those waves reach our ear and stimulate the small bones inside of it that then allow that information to be processed by our brain.
Music is no different. We like to listen to music and we like to be able to listen to it in a group. Its why choirs sing together or why a band sounds better when every part is in sync then when one part or instrument is going ahead alone. And of course, humans are social beings, and as such we like to talk about it. But of course its hard to talk about things when other people dont appeciate the same things you do. So yes, there is a part of it that comes down to simple peer pressure, and even brainwashing, for those chords and those rthyhms of lyrics are so well tuned and match our ears so much that we become attuned to like that set. But more then that it comes down to that because this is the music that people listen to the most, it is also the one we are more familar with and therefore can pick up easiest, and can also easily adapt to.

The video I referanced is down below, and the videos that he referances are in the spoiler bar underneither

As always, more to come

Will We Ever Run Out of New Music?

Videos referanced in the video above
The Axis of Awesome: 4 Chords Official Music Video
Axis of Awesomes Four Chords

Mix and Match Lyrics
Interactive video to look at the idea of the common meter

Stairway to Gilligan's Island
Stairway to Gillians Island
Link to the series "Everything is a Remix"

For more, visit the youtube page of the original video

Offline KorenTopic starter

Re: The Color of Music - How sound can change a life
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2013, 04:30:11 PM »
People often underestimate various aspects of music. The tune is all good and well, and for about ninety percent of people its the main thing that they hear and pick up on, the way that they communicate the song with others and the way that other people are able to understand their passion for it. And there is nothing wrong with the tune. Most songs we hear especially on the radio and the like are designed that way, so that the tune is something simple and consistant that we can pick up on, and to be honest in a lot of songs the tune is the most well formed and precise piece of the music. There is a reason that it is often the tune that fits into those common chords, meters and the expectations that I laid out in my previous post.

But there is so much more to music then just the primary tune that we hear. So much more goes into it. In fact through my musical experiance at my choir, with instruments on my own, and just standing in the kitchen and messing around with songs, seeing what I could do to them in so many ways, I would argue that the tune of the song is generally the least importaint part of it. Yes, sometimes the tune carries one emotions so inexplicably strong or consistant that it seems wrong to mess around with the parts of it, or that no matter how you mess around with it it always still seems to carry the same message and emotion. But these songs are rarer and fewer between then people might think. With those songs, the notes are often the most importaint part of it. I plan on doing another piece on that later down the line. There will be minor and major parts to it (hint hint for anyone with music theory in their background)

But there are three other parts that are so importaint to music pieces as well, one of which I will talk about in my next post: Harmony, Tempo and Tone (which will be covered later)

One thing that I often tell people who think they know everything about a particular song is to go and listen to it again with headphones on. I dont even have particularly good headphones, cheap 30 dollar ones from the nearest Officeworks, and no, not buds, I own headphones that cover the ears which is good as they partially work as sound cancelling that allow you to focus more on the music. Its amazing how much more that you pick up with headphones to be honest. The things that artists put into the backgrounds of their songs subtly often have a far greater impact then you know. Its why sometimes they sound hollow when people are singing it just by themselves. Quite often when I sing a song I often get strange looks and cautious comments that I am actually singing it wrong, and that its not right. More often then not when that happens Im singing a harmony part, one of the underlying tunes that you can hear so much better with headphones and oftentimes I like the sound of those parts more. It also makes these songs fun to sing with friends as you can sing the harmony, while they sing the melody and all of a sudden it sounds a million times better
So thats the challenge I set people. Get some headphones that can divide up sound pretty well, put a few songs you like on your playlist and to try and pick up one of the other parts. The good thing about headphones is that the parts of the song get divided up between the two speakers. Bass will often be heavier in one, as will all the various tracks that the harmony parts sit on, and the tune will sit somewhere quite different. Its often interesting to identify which headphone that the tune is coming through and to actually pull that one OFF your ear, leaving you with nothing but the bass and harmonies.
Mind you, this doesnt work for all songs, not at all, some songs are simple and kept that way on purpose. Ive included two interesting songs for this method below though

Songs for Harmony Parts (play with headphones)
Ideally I would recommend getting these songs from a CD or itunes, as Youtube doesnt seperate audio tracks very well so this method doesnt work as well, but you might still be able to get a sense for it

Josh Pyke - New Years Song
Josh Pyke- New Year's Song

Josh Pyke - Forever Song
JOSH PYKE: Forever Song

Many Josh Pyke songs are actually excellent for this example. Instead of singing or playing along to the melody, try and pick out one of the parts overing underneith
Other songs of his I recommend are: Memories and Dust, Middle of the Hill & The Summer

Tempo is the pace at which we sing or play the particular piece of music. The speed is you will. Rthyhm is something quite different, being the parttern that the notes take, how long they are held out. No double I will go into that more later. But tempo is more important then you would imagine. I cant really provide any examples for it at all as its just something that you have to play around with and find out about on your own.
But we hear it all the time when we speak, someone who speaks faster is generally seen as being more excited and happy, someone slower more sad. And really speaking is just another way of producing sound, and thats all music is, sound to a particular cadence and tonal set. Speaking can be another form of music, why else do we refer to people with beautiful voices as having a musical voice?
Grab a song you like and experiment with speeding it up or slowing it down in various ways, at various parts. Of course because you know the song youre going to know how you feel about it, but if you can do it well you might find those songs that can sound so different in the way that they are paced out. Less songs can be changed around with this, but it is interesting to play around with and especially with choral songs in particular, over recorded pieces that you hear on the radio, and some band songs etc, the tempo can mean a great deal more. More energy and life, while slowing a song can drag and become quite miserable all around.

Play around with these two and see what you can come up with

Ill be covering tone in my next entry into this blog

So thanks for reading and as always, more to come...

Online Oniya

Re: The Color of Music - How sound can change a life
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2013, 07:02:52 PM »
There are a couple of songs by Styx that I know well enough to swap in the harmony at will.  Used to drive the kids in my college dorm crazy when my best friend would be getting the side-looks for singing along with the concert video, and then I'd slip in with the other tenor line.  :D  I'd also do it with certain church hymns when I was still getting dragged along.  That drove my kid sister nuts.  ;D

Offline KorenTopic starter

Re: The Color of Music - How sound can change a life
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2013, 07:40:58 AM »
It always is good fun to do that. People look at it strangely because often they wont even know that those parts exist underneith it. I wonder how many people then went back and listened to those songs and picked up on it then. Harmony parts really are incredibly fun, especially coming up with your own which is one of those little pleasures of mine. I can strech my voice to an incredibly low range when I need to so often Ill just take a song and drop it down an octave and sing along for some fun if I can. Playing with music is what makes it so much more interesting a lot of the time.

Hymns are also great fun to do that with, because everything fits into such a strict and common chord structure with that style of music, the way its presented, its often easy to pick up on a harmony, let alone make your own.

Thanks for your comments Oniya