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Music As Language

This clip spurred me to think about an aspect of music I haven’t thought deeply on. Music as language:

Bob Kauflin, speaking on music as language

I think music functions as language, and that we glean emotions, inspiration, etc. from it, but what is the criteria for language? Birdsong is beautiful, and could move our emotions, but it may actually be some bird shouting “BUZZ OFF. THAT’S MY TREE–MY TREE–MY TREE,” or it might be empty tones. Our emotions may move during a sunset, but does that make the sunset language? Maybe. I’m open to the idea.

Kauflin’s distinction between types of language interests me. He says,  “Music cannot communicate propositional truth.” All communication requires context, though, and his next point is music can remind us of propositional truth by evoking our worldview through our emotions.

His emotionally charged response to the sonata, for example, is linked to his knowledge of God, and his creative work. So Kauflin was moved by his own analysis, and the connections he made in his own mind.

But I don’t know much (read: anything) about linguistics or music, so it’s certainly an area for research and more thinking.

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