The Many Functions of Music

Carli Domenico ’15 is a junior University Studies-Honors major with a focus on neuroscience. She is also completing minors in psychology and philosophy. This guest post from Carli highlights her experience in the University Scholars music exploration group. To learn more about Carli’s experience as an Honors Student at Texas A&M, please visit her ePortfolio.

– by Carli Domenico ’15

University Scholar Carli Domenico '15
University Scholar Carli Domenico ’15

Music is everywhere. It is an industry, an art, and a science. Our emotions are enhanced and our memories are evoked by it. Overlooking the role of music in our lives is easy, but after deliberation, one can see how prominent it really is. It brings drama to a movie. It gives energy to a restaurant. It makes car drives more interesting, and it makes exercise an adventure.

In a seminar on music this past semester with University Scholars, we discussed many facets of music from its structure to its role in culture. Ethnomusicologists came to discuss their research. One explained the influence of music genres in forming an identity for certain groups. The power of music is so strong that people will dress a certain way to associate themselves with the music and to find others that have the same tastes and beliefs as them.   Another musicologist discussed issues in Brazil. With the banning of loud bars in residential areas, the youth have rebelled by gathering in varying places and by playing loud music in speaker systems in their cars. He also discussed the pairing of abstract images to enhance the sensory experience attained in a musical performance. A professional conductor visited, and he explained how complex a music performance can be. He gave us examples of famous musical pieces and how they were similar and different in regard to their structure. He discussed their importance as they marked major shifts in music composition over time. The Honors Program’s very own Antoine Jefferson explained the structure of music and how it is read. Finally, a philosophy professor came to discuss how hip hop artists communicate certain messages that shape society and our perception of individuals in it.

We gained a very comprehensive understanding of music as a result of this seminar, and we learned its importance to the human experience. Victor Hugo once said: “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”. Music is an impressive creation unique to humans. It is therapeutic, and in many ways, it defines us. In a TED talk, Robert Gupta explained the medicinal nature of music and how it provided sanity for the famous violinist, Nathaniel Ayers, who struggled with schizophrenia. The playing of musical numbers pacified Nathaniel, grounded him, and elicited his brilliance. The function of music is beyond its ability to make humans dance.

A church program would not deliver such deep spiritual connection without its hymnals. A movie would seem incomplete if silence replaced the dramatic crescendos of the climax. Performance might decline in exercise and in academia without the motivational stir inside one’s ear buds. Music is fundamental to the human experience. It is an art constituted through the media of sound. The seminar this semester showed the many applications of music and its importance. Cultures may differ in the value and creation of music, yet it is a universal language that connects us all.

Enriching programs like University Scholars would not be possible without the guidance of Program Coordinator Jamaica Pouncy, the tireless support of our faculty, and the generous contributions the Association of Former Students.

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