Is Music a Universal Language?

by Alain Abou Atmeh, Mar 2, 2017 . 3 min read

Is Music a Universal Language?

With some 7,000 languages being spoken around the world, it’s impossible for everyone to talk to everyone else on the planet. However, we are able to communicate with each other across ethnical, cultural, and linguistic boundaries through music.

 

Some argue that music is a universal language that we can all speak, but others disagree.

 

Let’s see who’s right.

 

Technically speaking…

 

The argument that music is not a universal language is often based on the technicality that music is not a language, in the strictest sense of the word.

 

According to David Ludden, author of The Psychology of Language: An Integrated Approach, “By definition, language is a communication system consisting of (1) a set of meaningful symbols (words) and (2) a set of rules for combining those symbols (syntax) into larger meaningful units (sentences).”

 

Music, he says, is a communication system. And it has rules for ordering its elements (notes, keys, and chords). However, music does not meet the first requirement because the elements have no meaning on their own. Rather, it’s the larger structure of the music that conveys meaning.

 

In the ears of the beholder,

 

Another argument sometimes made against music as a universal language is that our perceptions of music are very subjective. Music from a foreign culture may not sound like music to our ears at all!
The broader meaning of “language”.

 

On the other hand, the word “language” is commonly used in a broader sense. In terms such as “body language” and “the language of love,” it simply refers to any kind of communication system, and we’ve already established that music fits this description.

 

But is music really universal?

 

It’s all about emotions
Many people believe that music’s ability to communicate basic human feelings does indeed make it a universal language.

 

“Humans have evolved to share and express the same basic emotions in similar ways,” says Jennifer Patterson, founder and president of California Music Studios. Studies of blind children have proven that we all show emotion with the same facial expressions, while studies of people from diverse cultures show that the sounds we use to convey our emotions are consistent, as well.

 

The power of music lies in its emotional meaning, expressed using elements such as rhythm, pitch, and tempo that we use in regular speech, regardless of what language we are speaking. What’s more, major and minor chords “have deeply connected emotional meanings,” according to researchers.

 

What do you think?

 

Do you feel that music is a universal language? Follow us and let us know!

 

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

 

References:

 

www.debate.org

 

www.psychologytoday.com

 

blogs.edweek.org



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

These four interesting facts about sting give us some insight into the life of this celebrated musician.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 22, 2021 . 4 min read

Have you ever wondered what are the 5 most used types of guitars?

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 18, 2021 . 4 min read

These five interesting facts about Van Halen partly reveal a musician that was quite extraordinary.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 8, 2021 . 3 min read

These five facts about jazz guitar legend Pat Metheny are quite impressive. They will shed some light on how a guitar prodigy from a small town in Missouri became the most successful and beloved jazz musician of his generation.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Sep 24, 2021 . 4 min read

You know the saying: “Give people their flowers while they can smell them” so, in this post, we’re going to look through some of the greatest jazz guitarists playing today…

Frederik Nielsen
Sep 13, 2021 . 3 min read

To show our appreciation of your love and loyalty to our products, and to give a little something back to you, we created

Abir H. Farha
Jul 29, 2021 . 2 min read

The 6 famous songs that use dominant 7th chords have a special quality to them. A big chunk of that particular flavor is thanks to the use of dominant chords.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 26, 2021 . 7 min read

These 5 facts about Guns N’ Roses can help us understand why they became one of the biggest rock bands ever.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 16, 2021 . 6 min read

These 7 facts about Jimi Hendrix partially show why he is such a massive influence on guitar players. They also reveal a very unique career that is impossible to be duplicated.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 12, 2021 . 6 min read

This guide to understanding the types of electric guitars will shed light on a topic that can be confusing for many.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jul 9, 2021 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!