meanings in music

“Children’s Concert” by Georgios Jakobides

I don’t want to sound too cosmic or anything… but I think that music is a spiritual experience. … Music is true. An octave is a mathematical reality. So is a 5th. So is a major 7th cord. And I have the feeling that these have emotional meanings to us, not only because we’re taught that a major 7th is warm and fuzzy and a diminished is sort of threatening and dark, but also because they actually do have these meanings. It’s almost like it’s a language that’s not a matter of our choosing. It’s a truth. The laws of physics apply to music, and music follows that. So it really lifts us out of this subjective, opinionated human position and drops us into the cosmic picture just like that.
~ James Taylor
(Performing Songwriter, May 2002)

12 thoughts on “meanings in music”

  1. Barbara,

    I don’t know the science of music, yet I that there is a deeper place that it can and does touch. I once used song and or music to express my feelings when I did not have the poetry of words, I have used drumming as a way to vibrate the energy around me to journey into deeper levels of self…
    James seems to have it correct when he says: “So it really lifts us out of this subjective, opinionated human position and drops us into the cosmic picture just like that.”

    I am Love, Jeff

    1. I know what you mean, Jeff, about that deeper place that music touches. Listening to music can lower blood pressure – doctors and dentists are making good use of this truth when performing surgery. It’s wonderful that we can communicate meaning with music and rhythm, especially when words seem inadequate, and that the universal language of music connects us to each other.

  2. Barbara, I love the way you have spotlighted the beauty in these words. That image fits so perfectly. Thought-provoking words from one who probably saw more than he allowed himself to express.

    1. Thank you, Meenakshi… I got that feeling, too, as if Taylor didn’t want to be perceived as too “far out” there. Or perhaps he simply couldn’t find the words to express that wordless but deeply spiritual experience that music is for him. I like “Children’s Concert, too!

      “All nature consists of harmony arising out of number.”
      ~ Pythagoras

  3. The image you picked goes so well with this quote.

    I’ve recently started including music in my life on a daily basis. It was one of my resolutions this year after realizing I hadn’t really been listening to music very much (except when we attended the occasional concert). It can be healing in many ways.

    1. Thank you, Robin. I appreciate and admire so much the gifts musicians bring into our lives, especially singer-songwriters who artfully combine meaningful words with musical notes. I find it healing, too, and have had many peak experiences at concerts…

  4. There is no doubt in my mind that music and art both communicate very deeply to humans. We only really test the ability to read, do math and write, but music has this other power that we don’t really tap into as much (at least in education). I love these little gems words and images that you post.

    1. Thanks, Meg!

      Have you ever read the book “7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying & Developing Your Multiple Intelligences” by Thomas Armstrong? I like to think of them as learning styles. Some people are strong in one area, like my husband, Logic. Others are strong in several areas or even all areas, like Leonardo da Vinci.

      The original edition covered seven intelligences: Body (kinesthetic), Logic (mathematical and scientific), Music (musical), People (interpersonal), Pictures (spatial), Self (intrapersonal), and Words (linguistic). A later edition added two more: Nature (naturalist) and Wonder (existential). The last got me so excited because it fits me perfectly!

      You’re so right, our education system is only seriously concerned with Logic and Words, but it often leaves those who would flourish in the other intelligences out in the cold. It’s a shame.

      1. I read that book many years ago so I missed the naturalist and existential intelligences. It amazes me how long it’s taking the education system to acknowledge the many types of intelligence human beings can have.

        Thanks to my youngest son’s musical talents I often fall asleep listening to him playing his guitar or piano in another part of the house. It is wonderful.

        At the preschool where I work part-time, every time I tell the children we’re going to take out the musical instruments they get so thrilled and focused. I have a collection of simple musical instruments from around the world (you would love the shakers made from abalone shells!) that I keep in a big basket in my living room for my grandsons to play with. Though I don’t know much about music, I do know how much joy it can bring.

        1. You’re so fortunate to have a musician in residence! I remember falling asleep as a child, listening to my father playing his guitar or the piano downstairs. It was wonderful, as you say…

          I can picture your little students looking a lot like the “Children’s Concert” painting above, joyful and excited! I’m trying to imagine the sound of abalone shell shakers…

          I took piano lessons when I was a child and although I didn’t play well enough to continue pursuing it, I still love listening to others play and attending concerts. Life is so enriched by music in its endless varieties. We all have so much to offer, in one way or another.

  5. Oh the power of music. I think it connects us with our essential energy, our shakras which are geared to certain notes and tones. No accident that we respond on so many levels to the music that appeals to us as individuals. Hello.
    Love the bright golden sunlight color of the painting.

    1. I think so, too. And live music even more so. I love that connected feeling and spiritual peak experience that I get at some concerts, both large ones in amphitheaters and small ones in a living room or back yard. In the painting I like the boy improvising with a watering can!

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