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The Eight Standpoints of Music

The word ‘standpoint’ means ‘point of view’, ‘perspective.’ This article sets out to affirm the fact that music is not just a sound that is pleasant to the ears. It can be defined from different perspectives.

Music is Academic; It’s theoretical, abstract, scholarly, or literary. The word “academy,” as it applies to the article, doesn’t mean a school, an institution for higher learning (a college or university). It means the knowledge disseminated in a school, college or university.

It can also be viewed as a body of established opinion in a particular field, regarded as authoritative. Apart from the fact that some persons who are not music scholars make music by virtue of talents and gifts, music is viewed as a body of knowledge. Therefore, music is academic.

This is where musicology fits in. Musicology is the scholarly or scientific study of music, as in historical research, musical theory, or the physical nature of sound. Music scholars are known as musicologist, academic musicians, music graduates and so forth.

The line of demarcation between academic musicians and non-academic musicians must always be drawn. Being a non-academic musician doesn’t mean that you are not a graduate. You are a graduate of another field, not music.

For more on this, read The Difference Between A Musician and A Musicologist, Who Is a Musicologist? Who Is A Composer? Music Is Not Just A Talent; English is Not Just A Language.

Music is philosophical; it’s thoughtful, rational, or analytic. Philosophy is an academic discipline that seeks truth through reasoning rather than empiricism. It is a comprehensive system of belief. A philosopher must be rational, thoughtful, analytic and critically-minded.

Music makes a man rational, thoughtful, analytic and critically-minded. All men philosophize. Hence, musicologists/musicians are philosophers. No one composes/performs without being thoughtful, rational, analytic and critically-minded.

A composer critically-mindedly adds one musical note to another to form motif. He rationally repeats the motif to have phrase member. He thoughtfully repeats the phrase member to have antecedent (phrase A). He analytically repeats the antecedent to have consequent (phrase B). This is how it works.

For more on the philosophy of music, read The Philosophy of Music: Music is Colourless, It takes the Colour of the Composer(s), The Philosophy of Music: The Text is the Master while the notes are the Servants, The Philosophy of Music: The Music Speaks for the Words, and the Words Speak for the Music, The Philosophy of Music: Musical Instruments Speak the Languages of the Players.

Music is Psychological; it’s mental, emotional, attitudinal or behavioral.  Psychology is the study of human mind and behavior. The mental, emotional and behavioural characteristics of some persons are the reasons behind the various musical compositions we have in the world.

A composer for instance, makes intensive use of his mind, emotion before a new song/music is composed. A performer on the other hand, behaves well on stage, makes use of his mind and emotion before a piece of music is beautifully performed. Either way, the behaviours, mentality and emotions of the persons involved must reflect in music making process.

For more on the psychology of music, read The psychology of Music: It is Possible to See with the Ears and hear with the Eyes, The Psychology of Music: The Hand Writes/Plays What the Mind Captures, what the Eyes see and what the Ears hear, The Psychology of Music: The Intended Audience is a Composer’s Inspiration and a Performer’s Motivation.

Music is palliative; it palliates, extenuates, or mitigates. Palliative is anything that palliates, extenuates or mitigate. In the medical field of study, it is referred to as palliative medicine. The severity of certain human pains, sorrows, troubles and problems tend to be lessened when the mind is captivated. Once a person stops thinking about the issues, they begin to assuage.

Music captivates human minds. By so doing, every pain, sorrow, trouble or problem each person may have, becomes palliated. Palliative usually minimize the progression of a disease and relieving undesirable symptoms for as long as possible, rather than attempting to cure the (usually incurable) disease.  Music is palliative indeed.

Music is Therapeutic; it’s remedial, or medicinal. Music has to do with therapy. Music has a positive effect on the mind. Therapy means an attempted remediation of a health problem following a diagnosis, usually synonymous with treatment.

Music is most used in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is the treatment of people diagnosed with mental and emotional disorders using dialogue and a variety of psychological techniques. Music is of one psychological techniques.

Worthy of note: what is the difference between music as palliative and music as therapy? In palliative, music is used in lessening the severity of problems (pain, sorrow, trouble, diseases) while in therapy (Psychotherapy), music is used in remediating mental or emotional disorders.

Music is incentive; it motivates, arouses, encourages, or inspires. Music is something that motivates, rouses or encourages. It’s inciting, encouraging or moving, rousing to action, stimulating. There are people that can’t work effectively unless they listen to their preferred pieces of music.

This is where inspirational music fits in; music inspires. Some people feel good, energized when listening to music. This is often times evident in singing of anthems. In FIFA World Cup for instance, before any match is played, the national anthems of both countries are played. Why is it so? It’s played to incite the players.

This is done in the spirit of nationalism. Playing for your country means patriotism. Wearing a jersey that is designed with your country’s colours, means demonstration of love and pride for your country. In many countries of the world, before the president (or the governor) delivers any address, the national anthem must be played first. This is what music can do. Music is indeed, motivating.

Music is Didactic; it’s instructive, informative, educational, or educative. This is different from being “academic.” Music is said to be didactic when instructive or intended to teach or demonstrate, especially with regard to morality. Music teaches; it conveys knowledge, information or instruction. It helps to educate. Certain things are better taught via music.

This standpoint is evident in popular music genre (especially gospel music). Artistes feed their fans with good pieces of music and didactic lyrics. Artistes who have special things to teach the whole world can easily do that via their musical works. It happened in the past, it is happening in the present, and it will continue to happen in the future.  Music is one of the fastest ways through which these are done.

When we said that “music is academic”, we mean that it’s a body of knowledge. But we say that “music is didactic,” we mean that it teaches moralities. These moralities are the product of the artistes.  Artistes that are rational, thoughtful, analytic or critically-minded are likely to have lyrics that are full of strong morals.

Certain pieces of information are better spread via music. If you listen to radio/television, you’ll hear series of jingles. You can now recall and ponder on the various popular songs you’ve ever listened to.

Imagine copies of that same music sold to millions of people in the world. That’s why, as an artiste, you have be very careful of what you sing, it lives even after your demise. The best way of sensitizing people is via music. Music is a vehicle through which, pieces of information are disseminated.

Music is Spiritual; it’s supernatural, extraordinary, paranormal or mysterial. Lastly music a mystery; it’s unexplainable. We can fail to discuss music from this standpoint. Music is above nature. Many song writer/music composers will affirm that their works that later become hits were not the ones they expected. That’s music for you.

This is where church music fits in. The spiritual nature of music is the reason God passes through it and do wonders or perform miracle(s) in churches and other worship centers. God can use anything (including music) to do whatever He wants to do with/for us. We might not be able to explain it but then, that’s the fact.

For further reading, see Music and Other Disciplines (Part One), Music and Other Disciplines (Part two), Music and Other Disciplines (Part three), and Music is Life; Life Is Music. ...Your music, your world, your life!