Understanding Music

Understanding Music



Understanding Music


Virtually every person experiences different types of sound each day. Moreover, music is played on almost all social occasions including religious events, funerals, weddings, and parties. Some of such kinds of sound fall under the category of music, while others are mere noises. Since music consists of well-coordinated sounds, it requires concerted efforts to differentiate it from other sounds. Since time immemorial, human beings have been using music in various places and times for specific purposes that entail education, entertainment, and praises (Cervellin, & Lippi, 2011). As a means of communication, music tends to vary from one community or generation to the next.

Nonetheless, the combination of voices, rhythms, and tones render music somehow sophisticated to understand and appreciate. Consequently, diversified persons could gain varied understanding and may exhibit different ways of enjoying specific types of music. Besides, the capacity for music to arouse emotional feelings renders it more effective in delivering the intended message and purpose. The audience would listen, remember, or dance as some of the common ways of appreciating music.


Understanding music is a complex practice that depends critically on the consciousness and efforts of an individual and requires significant amounts of emotional and mental energy.

Concepts of Understanding Music

Cognitive Understanding

It requires concerted efforts of mental actions that entail senses, experiences, and thoughts for an individual to understand music. Since a person would be claimed to understand music after attaining adequate representation of music in thought and memory, such practice needs rigorous activities by the brain. Consequently, the practice consumes lots of mental energy as the brain has to undergo certain processes that are aimed at gaining aural understanding of what the artist/e intends to convey (Gault, 2005). The brain has to process the varied activities that lead to understanding of music. For instance, the brain processes data that is collected through hearing/ listening to music. Similarly, the brain makes crucial decisions that could encourage or discourage understanding of music depending on an individual’s capabilities. A significant understanding of music could be evidenced by the capacity of an audience to foretell some information or other aspects that are yet to be delivered as the music plays. Hence, such a practice relies primarily on memory, and therefore mental energy of an individual.

It requires lots of mental processes to understand music structure. Learners who endeavor to understand the structure of particular type of music have to conduct extensive studies that could include critical listening and analyzing the music to determine their quality while identifying existing errors (Tagg, 2001). Accordingly, the more complex a given category of music becomes, the more difficult it is to understand. Consequently, learners would spend more mental energy. Besides, listeners have to be highly conscious and subconscious to gain all the details of music including timbre, rhythm, and tone. Moreover, a more in-depth understanding of music may require the use of relevant secondary sources, an activity that needs additional mental and physical energy.

Listeners spend lots of mental and emotional energy to retrieve the message of the composer of a given piece of music. Since music relies on different elements that include sound, beats, tones, and tempo, an individual could have to use lots of effort in analyzing them and retrieving the composer’s message. Similarly, significant amounts of emotional energy are necessary for listeners to understand music.

Music uses coded language that requires critical analysis and interpretation to attaint their true meanings (Juslin, 2013). The non-verbal aspects of music that entail the use of instruments such as drums and piano to generate specific sounds are vital in the music industry. Accordingly, listeners and experts in the industry have to leverage their skills and knowledge to gain their actual importance and roles. Besides, the production of such critical sounds depends on considerable expertise and understandings. Accordingly, an individual has to spend lots of efforts and mental energy to study, learn and acquire the necessary knowledge regarding their production and roles. Moreover, the dynamic nature of the music industry suggests that the audience has to continue learning the emerging languages and sounds to remain competent and able to understand their desired music (Powers, 1980). Hence, understanding music entails continuous studies.

Individuals with a significant understanding of music can spend mental efforts to compare one category of music to the next. The capability of a person to examine and probably contrast, different types of music depend primarily on their degree of understandings. Such individuals possess exhaustive comprehension of the varied details of music. For example, the use of tones and rhythms in one type of music could differ from another category. Similarly, an individual who strives to understand music must be able to notice any variance in different versions of a given type of music. Therefore, a person who intends to gain an adequate understanding of the existing differences or similarities must use their cognitive capabilities to analyze and evaluate the chosen categories of music.

Aesthetic Understanding

Different individuals tend to exhibit varying degrees of value for particular music due to personal judgments and tastes. Listeners engage in numerous activities that entail appropriate emotional response to music, perception of interplay and interaction of events, and active involvement (Stevens, 2012). Consequently, each listener would probably demonstrate different levels of aesthetic understanding of music due to the natural diversities and relativeness of humans. Thus, understanding music means that a listener has to critically analyze and evaluate a particular type of music to gain its importance and value.

Interested persons spend an adequate amount of time and effort listening to music to understand them. Since coordinated sounds work to generate music, an individual has to spend some time listening to every bit of the sound, while striving to interpret them and gain their meanings. Besides, such practices of listening require significant amounts of mental and even emotional energy (Saarikallio, 2011). For instance, a listener could have to carry on listening to a given set of music despite their overwhelming emotions since they are concerned with learning every detail.

Some persons make substantial financial, time, and energy sacrifices to understand music. For example, individuals engage their mental energy to evaluate the significance of understanding a given type of music. Varied importance of music could include the need for emotional satisfaction, enrichment of personal wealth of knowledge about music, and the need to appreciate composers and writers of particular music (Müller et al., 2010). Thus, a concerned individual has to critically evaluate the potential benefits and other consequences of understanding music, a practice that consumes lots of mental energy and requires both subconscious and conscious conditions.

Emotional and Physiological Understanding

Varied types of music attract different types of emotional and physiological responses among the listeners. Listeners would react to exciting music in certain ways that include dancing (Eerola, 2012). Moreover, listeners could exhibit varying ways of responding to music depending on particular aspects that may include their unique physiological arousals, their personality, how they interpret the music, whether they like the type of music they listen to, whether they are musically trained and how often they listen to music. Even so, many persons tend to become more actively aroused by lively music. Similarly, sedative and quiet music tend to reduce muscular tension. Hence, a person would claim to have understood a given set of music after exhibiting certain emotional responses. Nonetheless, a listener should have the adequate emotional energy to accommodate such reactions.

Music has significant influence on the emotions and moods of individuals. Accordingly, suitable music could act as appropriate regulators of feelings and emotions of listeners. Such effects of music could be evidenced with the capacity for some persons to adjust their behaviors and emotions after listening to specific category of music. However, such impacts seem to depend primarily on an individual’s perception of the music. Nonetheless, an individual consumes lots of emotional energy while exhibiting the stipulated reactions to music. Hence, a person has to experience a given set of music to gain their details, and adequate understandings since some of the music’s aspects could be challenging to be communicated through channels other than first-hand experiences (Chapin et al., 2010). For example, a person who listens to music learns about every bit of the applicable tones, beats and other aspects of the music. Even so, significant musical education could promote a better understanding of such music by preparing listeners to observe and evaluate particular aspects that are vital in generating and developing music.

Upon understanding a given piece of music, an individual would gain some emotional feelings by either becoming happy, sad, calm, nostalgic or tense. Such emotional reactions emerge following the power of music to influence the listeners. Even so, such emotional responses tend to occur according to personal taste and perceptions among listeners to a given type of music. Therefore, listeners would spend significant amounts of emotional energy while responding to the music.

Certain emotional events could be linked to some music, thus triggering certain emotions and physical reactions (Vuoskoski, & Eerola, 2012). Since music acts as a great tool for communication, listeners would exhibit some physical and emotional response upon understanding what a specific piece of music relays. For example, if a piece of given music presents particular messages that are linked to death, a listener would attain a sad or mourning mood and feelings. Accordingly, such a kind of understanding relies on the ideology of presentation of music in memory and thought because it is based on past occurrences. On the contrary, an individual who does not have an adequate understanding of the music would not exhibit any significant reaction nor establish the links between the composer’s message and previous events. Therefore, understanding music is a complicated process that relies on lots of mental and emotional energy.

Listeners have to actively and consciously engage in listening to gain sufficient understandings. Composers and writers of music leverage their prowess and expertise to generate quality songs for presenting their desired message and attaining their intended purpose. At times it requires an in-depth analysis of a given piece of music for the listener to gain adequate understanding of the composer’s message (Kreutz, Schubert & Mitchell, 2008). Nonetheless, virtually every category of music requires significant levels of attention by the listener to obtain their meaning, or else they would remain meaningless pieces of sound. If an individual fails to demonstrate a significant degree of attention and consciously listen to a given piece of music, they would not appreciate the music. Even so, personal interpretations and perceptions of a given category of music have a significant influence on the ability of an individual to understand a given class of music. For example, a listener who dislikes reggae music may not attain the otherwise important message in such music due to their taste and preference since they would not exhibit adequate attention and objective interpretations. Therefore, understanding music requires both the conscious and subconscious attention of the listeners.

Working to Understand Music

An individual has to work to understand music (Gordon, Fehd & McCandliss, 2015). The various tasks that interested persons have to accomplish while learning music include critical listening, analysis, and interpretation of music. Besides, such individuals have to revisit their preferred music and even try to memorize them. Such practices consume lots of mental and physical energy. Moreover, an individual has to conduct in-depth studies and analysis of the effects of music on the target audiences. Unluckily, such practices tend to consume lots of time, money, and personal efforts. A person who understands music possesses exhaustive comprehension of how a given piece of music could impact on listeners. Also, an interested person would have to continuously study conduct further studies to remain informed about the dynamic and ever-advancing music industry. Therefore, understanding music needs intensive and extensive studies and first-hand experiences with relevant categories of music.

Interested persons leverage their capabilities and skills to understand varied types of music. The individuals would make the vital decision of studying music and incurring all the relevant costs. Such practices rely mainly on mental energy since they rely on cognition processes. Similarly, the learners would have to spend other efforts that may include the need to secure copies of necessary pieces of music as well as the physical energy of sitting or dancing while listening to music. Overall, there are different processes that an individual experience while striving to understand music. Thus, understanding of music is not an instantaneous or something that happens by chance but instead requires concerted efforts and preparation.

An individual would have to actively engage in lots of physical and emotional activities to understand music. For instance, composers and writers of music have to undergo lots of training and development sessions to gain vital skills and knowledge for accomplishing such tasks (Gordon, Fehd & McCandliss, 2015). The capability to identify, generate and organize the varied aspects of music to attain the desired outcome takes significant amount of time and other resources to achieve. Likewise, the target audience would have to spend substantial amounts of their emotional and mental energy to retrieve the composer’s message. Thus, interested parties must be ready and willing to spend their efforts to understand music.

Emotions combine with cognition to stimulate an understanding of music. Interested persons would make efforts to learning a given category of music upon making particular decisions that are accomplished through the efforts of the brain. For example, a person could opt to purchase or listen to some music with the hope of gaining certain benefits that may include entertainment. While listening to such music, emotions would influence the audience in a positive or negative way. Under favorable emotional conditions, the listener would enjoy the music and subsequently seamless understanding of the music. On the contrary, unfavorable emotional conditions could force the listener to struggle in understanding the music. Nonetheless, the two different scenarios require significant amounts of emotional and mental energy and efforts to facilitate necessary comprehension.


Understanding music serves as one of the most complex activities that rely primarily on the consciousness and efforts of an individual. Moreover, an interested person has to spend significant amounts of their emotional and mental energy to gain sufficient understanding of music. Such concerted efforts are necessary because music is a relatively sophisticated means of communication that rely on varied aspects to relay specific messages and draw desired impacts on target audience. The use of coding languages in music makes it more challenging for learners to gain their actual meanings. Furthermore, the nature of music that comprises coordinated sounds renders it time and effort consuming. Still, understanding music depends mainly on mental energy that facilitates memory and thought of different aspects of music. Besides, the brain has to process the varied data that is collected while listening to music and studying them. Consequently, the brain would generate particular response depending on the personal perceptions, judgments, and personality of an individual. Still, more mental energy is required for memorizing the crucial aspects of music. Also, a listener would engage in emotional experiences upon understanding a given category of music. Interested parties have to work a lot to understand a given category of music and gain the capability to compare and contrast varied types of music or even spot any variances in a specific class of music. Therefore, understanding music is a relatively complicated, time and energy-consuming exercise.


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