language of music

Music happens. It flows across time, and therefore should be understood as a time-based language, unlike a photograph, sculpture, or a page of text.

The reader determines the pace of reading, but in music the performer sets the pace and uses the pace as part of the message. It is important for children to learn how to use pace, rhythm, and syncopation as message elements. Music affords this sort of expression. Singing adds melody to speaking, pitch-change, pause, rhyme, and refrain. These elements become recognizable packets of meaning, such as a greeting song or a good-bye song. Music can be remembered long after words are forgotten. We need to understand how music communicates those grounding rituals of an ordinary day. Music makes us feel safe in its structure, repetition, and familiarity. We whistle in the dark. We sing a remembered song to revive a fading friendship.