All music may be sound, but are all sounds music?General music question

8 Answers | Add Yours

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In my opinion the answer is definitely no. Frankly, I have a hard time believing that all "music" should be considered music. Some recordings that I have heard, which are referred to as music, do not bear the qualities that I associate with music. 

This makes me think there is a blurry line between noise and music and that what is music for some is not music for all. Does this meant that all sound might be subjectively considered to be music? I'd say no. Even sound that has musical qualities does not necessarily constitute music.

Rain falling into a bucket has pitch and rhythm and may even be beautiful, but it still isn't music. 

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

No. There are definitive ways of measuring what is music.  Quincy Jones, an accomplished musician and composer, maintains adamantly that there are such definitions, refusing, for example, to acknowledge rap as music when no musical instruments are played and no one sings. While the word music may be used metaphorically for some very lyrical poetry, yet there are still standards for what is music.  Not all reality is subjective-- at least one hopes not.

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Music is made of sounds, so sounds are certainly music, at least in part.  The question here is not with the words sounds; instead, it's the word music which allows some discrepancy.  Music, like art, is in the eye of the beholder.  I know that the noises (sounds) of a big city aren't familiar to me, but for those who live there they are part of the rhythms and poetry of their home.  Same for those who live in the country and have the more natural sounds as a backdrop for all that's familiar.  (Contrary to popular belief, the sounds of the country are not silence.)  So all sounds, alone or in concert, are music, I think.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think the last post expresses a great deal of challenge in the question.  If one dictates that "all sounds are not music," then a definitive statement is being made, assuming that all conditions remain static and frozen, in a sense.  What if something lies beyond where we are now and can be a sound which actually represents music.  Most great philosophers and thoughts lay outside of their time.  In a lesser form, post number 5's assessment of the Blue Man Group proves this point.  Thirty years ago, something like this group would have never been conceived and would be seen as mere "noise."  However, they have proven that music and sound can be redefined.  Perhaps, it is out of this fear of silencing something that might exist, something without current voice, but still could render a voice, is why I would say that sounds, any sound, can be constituted and aligned as music.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

A lovely paradox!  Of course all sounds are not musical.  Music is in the ears of the beholder.  Personally, large amounts of traffic are not musical (although some may disagree); the sounds of my senior boys passing gas and giggling about it like little girls is not musical; the sound of someone's fingernails on the archaic chalkboards is absolutely horrifying--anything but musical. 

On the other hand, groups like the Blue Man Group have amazed me at the quality of music they produce from seemingly ordinary items crafted into instruments.

mshurn's profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Sounds : Music :: Words : Poetry . . . So, all sounds are not music just as all words are not poetry. Music is like poetry in that it is an expression of artistry. Music is created when an artist works with sounds to produce a composition that expresses emotion so effectively that it evokes emotion in the listener. No shared emotion, no communication of feeling, no music. This explains, I think, why what is music to someone's ears just sounds like noise to someone else.

lorrainecaplan's profile pic

Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In my opinion, not all sound should be considered music.  Music is a deliberate creation of sound.  Does that mean that if I get in my car, and deliberately honk my horn, I am creating music?  I don't think so.  In addition to deliberation, music requires pattern and organization.  So, does that mean if I sit in my car, while my friend sits in his car, and we alternate honks in a deliberate plan, we have music?  I still don't think so.   Music also requires rhythm.  If we honk rhythmically, will we have music?  Perhaps we might have something that approximates music, particularly if our horns have different tones.  I also think that music requires more than one note, in spite of there being a song called "Johnny One-Note." 

There are a few other aspects to consider when we think about music. May the car horns be considered musical instruments?  Maybe.  People have used saws, steel drums, water-filled glasses, and any number of ordinary objects to create music.  So maybe I will write a car horn sonata when I am done answering your question.  Another aspect to consider is whether this deliberate, patterned, organized, rhythmic creation is pleasing to anyone's ear.  There is no doubt that different kinds of music please different people, and in fact, different cultures have different tonal scales.  But it seems to me that if music is not pleasurable to someone's ear, it should not be called music! 

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

To say all music is sound is like saying all that is gold glitters. And just as all that glitters in not gold, all that is sound is not music. Music is sound with some specific characteristics. It is combination of different kind of sounds that creates some emotional responses in our mind that we like and enjoy. Music is sound arranged in patterns that please and interest the listeners.

Of course the music that is enjoyed by one person may be just sound without such emotional impact, or with some kind of jarring rather than pleasing effect. Thus we can say that the classification of sound in categories of 'music' and 'not music' is subjective rather than based on some objective rules of notes, rhythm, melody, harmony and tone.

We’ve answered 318,992 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question