What is the strength of expression?
Music is a unique thing. There are times I listen to songs in different languages and enjoy it, despite not having a clue what is being said. But whatever WAS being said…I know I like HOW it was said.
Let me bring you deeper (pause), deeper into my love affair with music.
I think there are various ways in which we all enjoy music. I do not always listening to a song for profound lyrical content or socially aware lyrics. There are times when all you need or want; is a musically cathartic moment. Whether it is to ease your mood or for fun. It matters not. I will attempt to identify four ways in relation to a level of depth. In which music can be enjoyed.
The first level is actually shallow and lacking in any (significant) depth. Not surprising, seeing as it IS the FIRST level.
On this level of musical enjoyment, the thing you enjoy most is the beat. The symphonic arrangement of individual instruments such that it evokes movement. Or in lay terms: It makes you feel the need to dance.
This is the level where most “club music” lives. However, the enjoyment here is short-lived. After listening to songs at this level for a week – two weeks at most – you would have been tried and awaiting something new. Example:
I have no clue what they are singing about, even had I been able to sit at the PC with a cup of Earl Grey and my Oxford Dictionary. I might not be able to decipher what they are rapping about. However, on a very base, visceral level, I do enjoy listening to it.
The second level, is where the talent of the artists comes into play. Not to suggest that on the first level the artists aren’t talented. However, It is here, that you enjoy HOW something is being vocalised and not really WHAT is being vocalised.
It is at this level, that the artist needs to be able to sing/ Rap in such a way as to denote clarity. It might be shocking to note that artists at the first level need not be “limited” by this “constraint”. The overall vibe the instruments provides covers all that you will need. However, what is most important at this level, is the cadence. The particularly lilting nuances the singer creates. Case in point:
The Third level is the level at which people attribute “depth” to a song. As if to say, without this, music ceases to be enjoyable. I will admit that it is an important aspect of great music. But not necessary for enjoyable music. This is a important distinction. To clarify: a song with depth, is generally a song that is more socially aware and less about silly or material things ( To give a very limited and brief example).
It is on this level – if you’re astute, you can see where this is going – that you are more concerned with WHAT is being said and not HOW it is being said. Nor are you concerned with how good of an instrumental arrangement the song possesses. Not that you do not care about the HOW, it is just not as important as the WHAT. Significantly, music on this level – more often than not – possess a balanced arrangement of vocals (without adjustments) and instrumentation. Essentially, enjoying music on this level means you are more into the artists lyrical content. The perfect example:
The fourth level, and the last, is more abstract and subjective. More so than the previous. On this level you enjoy music that you can empathises with. Music that has meaning to you based on your social environs, specific moments or specific people in your life. Basically, anything that has to do with the significance you place on the music. As opposed to the ACTUAL meaning the song was meant to have. I do not think I have to say it, however, this level is more a combination of elements in levels one through three. The Pièce de résistance:
Now you know there is a difference between good music and enjoyable music. Enjoyable music need not be good and good music need not be enjoyable.
Which one of these levels (or level) do you listen music at? And what song is most symbolic of that level for you?