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October 31, 2012

Essay on Music Appreciation

Concrete Experience
            The art of music appreciation is defined as the teaching process through which people are informed and educated about the different genres of music that serve as an entertainment and educational purpose for these students. In addition to this, the field of music appreciation also involves the history of different musical categories that are studied in order to develop a better understanding and approach towards the specific genre that is being studied.
Although music has always been a means of communication for me which is found in all natural things around us, with its range so extensive that it encompasses the chirping of sparrows to the roaring sound made by sea waves; however, one event which enhanced my music appreciation skill was my experience of learning to play guitar in the early years of my life.
This event had provided me the ability to appreciate the quality in different forms of music, whether it is in a classical form of sitar played or the feedback mode of an electric guitar. The admiration and its subsequent appreciation is an entire process that evolves over a number of different stages over a period of time. The introduction of popular music came in the form of the Thriller album which was a colossal success all over the world and took Jackson to unprecedented heights of fame and glory. The admiration acquired at this stage of time was further cemented in different phases of life when I started listening to other artists of the local industry such as Robbie Williams and Madonna.
My uncle was truly an inspiration in introducing me to the music of these artists as he has always been a person who exactly knows what to listen and how to appreciate the music that you listen. Even though the extent of influence is purely based on the intensity of seriousness that one attributes to it but it can be said that the kind of music that one listen does for some extent of time develop its consequences in the disposition and proclivity of an individual.
For example, when I used to be a die hard rock band admirer I noticed that my nature turned increasingly aggressive and rebellious. I started admiring loudness, dissonance and noise. The element of rage began to fuel in me; I was punished often for my attitude in school and my parents were also often approached after inviting someone intentionally for a fight in the school premises. 
The potential of appreciating music began to gain momentum in my nature before the age of 18 when my father decided that during my summer vacations I should gain a familiarity and acquaintance with the musical instrument of guitar.
I was admissioned in Refining Minds named academy where students from various and diverse ethnic backgrounds use to come and learn the different ways through which they could learn and simultaneously enhance their musical skills and abilities. The group I was told to join comprised of around fifteen students in which we were provided daily lessons about the different dynamics of playing and learning acoustic guitar, piano, drums and also singing.
At the same time there were also session held after every two weeks students were also showed videos of musicians who are considered as proficients and revolutionary in their respective fields of music so that we may also develop our musical skills and potentials. These artists included Led zeppelin, AC/DC, Motorhead and Nirvana.
Along with these at the end of class the students were also presented and were also recommended with the albums and compact discs of the artists so that they may furnish their music skills as far as listening and appreciating it is also concerned.
A positive point regarding the entire exercise was that these musical information provided to us were not only restricted to western musicians but also encompassed other musicians also from eastern and central regions of the world. This was mainly done to inculcate and foster a feeling through which we could appreciate and realize the diverse language of music and the way people have gained dexterity in it.
With the help of this experience I was not only able to learn the dynamics of learning and playing an acoustic guitar but also began to develop an understanding regarding the musical melodies and tunes that could easily be prepared with the help of different instrumental synchronization. With the help of this experience I was introduced and exposed to a wide spectrum of diverse music that represented the culture of different nations and civilizations which helped me in developing my confidence levels.
At the end of every month we were also tested in front of the entire institute in which we had to perform a composition that we have prepared. All these experiences that I acquired during my time in the institute helped me in gaining greater skill and knowledge regarding the music that I was being exposed to and which helped me substantially in using it when I decided to adopt music as my profession.
Observations and Reflections
I very clearly remember that I was in high school when purely under the influence of peer pressure I began to develop the violent and louder side of music which is commonly known as rock music of the industry otherwise prior to such influences I was a person who was fond of people like Black Box and George Michael.
But with the passage of time and greater enlightenment of musical knowledge during that very same period of time I was also among the company that really knew what musical appreciation is and through their assistance I was illuminated by the crux and raw classical music through which all other genres of music harbinger.
After listening to some of the fundamental instruments of this particular music, I felt as if I was in a state of trance and was completely hypnotized by the flawless instrumental display, and the extraordinary variations in amplitude fostered a deep admiration for me regarding this particular field of music. I quickly began to understand that the actual music that is supposed to provide people with a feeling of mental relaxation and a relief from all their frustrations. According to the study conducted by Anderson, Carnagey & Eubanks (2003) use of heavy metals and violent lyrics in music can create feelings of hostility and aggression among the listeners. Thus, the soothing effects of music is not dictated on heavy electric guitars and loud drum play; on the contrary, it is the intoxication and enticing of the varying overtones produced by the flute and the alaps produced by the sitar.
 In order to ensure that I myself has clearly understood these fundamental musical terminologies, it is important the discussion is conducted on the basis of evidence. I would like to share a piece of classical music from the Eastern end of the world but the beauty and the feeling that it encompasses has been able to make its mark over the entire world.
Before delving into the depths of my experience of Indian classical music, it seems appropriate that fundamental terminology of Indian classical music is described properly. Some of the basic terms of Indian classic music are:
  • Raga: it is word of Sanskrit which denotes the melodic modes used in Indian classical music. A raga is consists of five or musical notes which forms a melody
  • Alap: it is the opening section of classical Indian Music. Alap is not usually accompanied with instruments and it started in a low tempo
  • Gat: it is composition of instruments which create cyclic rhythm
  • Taal: Taal or Tala is the Indian Classical music alternative of meter in western music  
  • Rasa: is the theology, which discusses “the soul's particular relationship with the divinity in devotional love” (Schweig, 2005; p.78)   
This has been played by the ultimate musical maestro and the guru of classical Indian music Ravi Shankar. One of his classical and magnificent performances that I have chosen starts with an initial raga which is a blend of different characteristics such as the melody and different scales on which the music is designed.
When this raga is festooned and synchronized with different musical variations and amplitudes of varying low and high level notes as demonstrated in the performance of Ravi Shankar it takes the form of an alap.
In other technical terms it can be described as a move to create vibrations in stagnant water which is known as the raga. Then as the performance shows there are periodical cyclical patterns of raga known as gat which are played with slight or substantial variation in order to prevent redundancy.
Another important component that has been paid special attention in this performance is the consistent maintenance of the musical tala or taal. This is important in order to uphold the rhythm of the composition and mostly it is the responsibility of the tabla players to coordinate and follow the raga that is being played.
Last but not the least, it is the integral feature of rasa which allows the listener to let himself loose to flow in the spiritual state of feeling that is being created by the musical composition. At a number of feelings the composition being played by Ravi Shankar is so spiritualistic that it literally creates an inebriated feeling upon the listener. (Ruckert, 2004)
In this context it is important to consider that in the North Indian region the tabla (a fundamental percussion instrument used in Indian classical music) and the tanpura (a musical instrument resembles with sitar but it has no frets and the open notes are played to accompany with other musicians) are the prominent instruments for raga performance, whereas in Carnatic music, the opening part is known as varman which is then decorated by ragams and thaalams which are substitutes of alap and gat used in North Indian music. Unlike North Indian brand of music, Carnatic music tends to more logical and structured in nature while the former is based on greater improvisational elements.
Also, North Indian music shows a significant influence of Persian musicology in its form of plat whereas the Carnatic one is quite independent in terms of origin and existence. Sitar, bansuri, tanpura, shehnai and sarangi are some of the major instruments that enrich North Indian music whereas Carnatic music is provided its rhythm by instruments like venu, harmonium, veena, kanjira and violin.
Formation of Abstract Concept
Music is a part of Nature. As said earlier that music or the ‘Sur’ of music and the relationship that it shares with its people exhibit a very symbiotic relationship. It is easy to observe it all around us in different forms.
The resting sound of nature during the time when the sun is right at its dawn, the beautiful, sonorous and melodious tunes of birds when at the beginning of the day, the surprising calls of frogs and toads, the shimmering trills of insects such as grasshoppers and crickets, the howling of animals, the myriad voices that nature has provided to water, the thundering of clouds and the dripping of rain drops each has a completely new story and a new tune to convey.
Hence in totality the sound of music is everywhere God has created man as specie who prays to Him and remains grateful and steadfast to him under all circumstances and conditions. The quality and potential for appreciation cannot be acquired until and unless man enlightens himself with the quality of appreciating the blessings that God has bestowed upon him.
At the same time it is also important to keep in mind that man at individual level is someone who admires beauty and is also integrated with the aesthetic sense of complimenting it whether it is in terms of admiration for a person belonging to the opposite gender or is it in the form of other creations that God has created for its most supreme being and creation.
 In addition to this it is also important to mention that Man which is the most supreme creation of God has been bestowed with the potential and quality of transforming the tunes and melodies of nature in diverse instruments and project a much similar image of it through proper synchronization.
The role of music and its different pre-requisites is also manifested in theological literature that was revealed on David. For those who are unaware, the entire text of the Holy Scripture was revealed in the form of tunes and melodies, hence the involvement and influence of music from a divine angle can be judged with the help of these examples.   
Music as a new antidote for medical treatment, contemporary medical research has authentically proved that music when used as a medical treatment and for the cure of harmful diseases. There are numerous evidences and case studies through which one can reach to an authentic conclusion that the role of music has become of substantial importance in medical research today.
The infusion and inclusion of music in medical treatment has proved very helpful in curing brain disorders and cancer. With the passage of time doctors are taking increasing interest with the psychological matters that music plays with the pheromones of the human body. It is also worth mentioning that patients recovering from a major operation such as heart surgery or by-pass operation show enhanced signs of improvement when they are periodically treated with harmonious tunes and melodies. (Courtney, N/A)
Similarly for many years the treatment of music and especially the music that have been composed by Mozart are used for the cure of epilepsy and other diseases.
            Music as the food for soul, many people are of the view that they listen to music primarily because it acts as a stress buster and in turn provides them an outlet through the help of which they can easily express their feelings and frustrations that they are confronted with.
For many people all over the world a major reason for listening to music irrespective of the genre that it belongs is that music defines the feeling of their soul that they are passing through. for example when in a cheerful mood a person normally intends to listen to romantic or emotionally pumping songs through the help of which he expects to performs the catharsis of the feelings being experienced.
Concomitantly if a person has a feeling when he feels that he is furious, he will definitely listen to some hard core compositions of rock music in order to express the rage and anger that he is experiencing.
Music as the new tool for enhancing educational skills. An innovatory reform introduced by music can also be demonstrated in the enhancement and introducing greater academic skills and potentials in students and can also improve their reading, learning and writing potentials when used in classrooms. Research studies have proved that students who listen to music on regular basis and use it as a learning tool are anticipated to score higher in exams like SAT than others.
The phenomenon through which the developmental processes and patterns of brain functioning are improved is known as The Mozart Effect. The process is used as a powerful tool in developing an effective connection between music and writing, the ability of children of memorizing things and improving their mathematical capabilities also.       

Application Of concepts
The concepts that I have discussed so far can be applied at different platforms in assessing and analyzing the other various problems that can be resolved with the help of music. The music is one very powerful tool that can be used in this context.
For instance I believe music is something that one can easily relate to is that the language of music is powerful and influential enough through the help of which anyone can easily express their feelings, emotions and frustrations by simply listening to the music as it provides all a convenient outlet and a language from their emotional expression. (Lipman, 1984)
Music as a new antidote for medical treatment. One of the reasons I find very convenient regarding music is the fact that it has also entered the medical field in order to explore greater frontiers and ventures through the help of which many lethal and fatal diseases such as various brain disorders and cancers can effectively be treated. I sometimes feel and ponder over the fact that what is the most precious and valuable thing and the only answer that immediately pops into my mind is a few seconds of peace and mental relaxation that can help him in overcoming the pain and suffering that he has gone through during the course of the surgery (Leow,  Drury and Wing, 2010).
The few seconds of metal and relaxation that are provided to him are important to him than all the wealth that he possesses. This feeling of peace and mental stability is provided by means of music and the influence that it has upon the patient.
There have been numerous cases where musical compositions made by Mozart and other prominent composers have been played to provide mental pace to patients when they are in operation theaters and encounter tremendous difficulty in overcoming the wounds and injuries that they have gained during the course of the operation.
I feel that the role of music in the treatment of diseases is so pivotal that through this its effectivity and longevity will slowly and steadily proliferate into other mediums through which its usage will subsequently increase.
Music as the new tool for enhancing educational skills .As I have mentioned earlier that the usage of music contemporarily is not only limited to studios and theaters but has extended its tentacles to engulf and incorporate better and enhanced educational and academic skills in students by developing their mathematical and literary skills.
There are numerous evidences available which support the fact that the inclusion of music in classrooms and its power can help students substantially in leading them towards higher achievement and grades in their academics. Furthermore music is also considered to be an effective and sustainable method through which teachers find it increasingly convenient to achieve their goal of managing a classroom. According to the research study that has been conducted by Susan Hallam and John Price it has been concluded that “music has come to be considered as lying on a continuum from highly stimulating and invigorating to soothing or calming.” (Merrel, 2004)  


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