What is Sound & Music? Opinions and Perspectives : Pratyay Raha

“Audiation” is a term coined in the 1970s by Edwin Gordon to refer to the creation of auditory imagery. Auditory imagery is a form of mental imagery that is used to arrange and decode sounds when there is no external auditory stimulus present. This form of imagery is broken up into a couple of auditory modalities such as verbal imagery or musical imagery.

In our daily lives, we almost tend to ignore and overlook the auditory perceptions and imageries that are getting created in our brains. If we think of a day in terms of the sounds that we hear and the auditory perceptions which generate on the basis of those sounds, may be it’ll turn out to be a fascinating story. Now music is a part of this sound experience. Sound can be anything, it may be the whistle sound made by the person who comes to collect your daily waste, or the door bell rang by the person who comes to cook in the morning, or the sound from the streets where the work cycle has already started, or the sound of people conversing in the morning about an accident that happened the previous day and got reported in the newspaper. The school bus arriving right on time and honking continuously for a group of students to board the bus. Reading about these sounds, you must have created an auditory imagery in your mind. This process is Audiation. Now in the universal set of sounds, music is a sub set. The subset of music can be distinguished from the rest of the universal set by four main attributes, Pitch, Dynamics, Tone Colour and Duration.

More works and concepts on sound can be studied and developed. For reference: https://rubinmuseum.org/spiral/sound/index.html

Now talking about Music, I always had this question. What is Music? Does it have an absolute and irreplaceable definition or does it allow space for multitudes and different personal opinions? During a discussion with my musician friends, I raised this question and I was amazed to see that each opinion was unique. It was a discussion and I’ll present it exactly the way it went.

Prasun Das (A budding theatre and film actor and musician) said, “Music is a divine creation of nature”. Here two words are especially noticeable, ‘divine’ and ‘nature’, So my question here is What is Divinity? And why did a young musician relate his understanding of music with Divinity? We may get some claritiy from Pritam’s perspective. Pritam Chowdhury (IT Analyst and Musician) said, “If we consider the creation of the Universe as a matter of chance, then, out of many possibilities this Universe has been created. Then according to me, one of the basic disciplined vibrations of nature, which connects every living being to the lifeline spread across the Universe, is Music. That’s why, I can feel the tension in my blood, and thus music happens. This thought resonates in the lines written by Tagore,
‘নাড়িতে মোর রক্তধারায়, লেগেছে তার টান, বিস্ময়ে তাই জাগে, জাগে আমার গান’ That is why music has no language, because man didn’t create it. It’s universal. It’s omnipresent. That’s is why, music has the power to connect. The process in which Atoms, molecules are formed, a similar disciplined vibration gives birth to music every moment. The way people have understood Gravity and the way the understanding kept changing as per the new discoveries, music has been perceived by humans in their own way since time immemorial.” Here I chipped in, “And the individual perception of one person is entirely different from the perception of another person. Inspite of the stark distinction and contradictions there is a string which holds everything together”

Dipanjan Paul (IT test analyst and Musician) expressed his opinion and said, “Music is the language of the soul. The language which connects the universe. There is music everywhere on earth and it’s on us to be able to listen to it. Music is religion to me. The religion of love. Music is mediation. Healing balm to a troubled soul. Music is that cosmic string binding each one of us. Music is humanity. Music is hymn.” We can see that so many diverse emotions, diverse processes and varied perspectives are related to the understanding of music as a whole. In line with Dipanjan’s, some other experiences can be referred to at:

Sangita Majumdar (Professional Musician, Music researcher and Composer) added to the discussion, “
‘একাকী গায়কের নহে তো গান
মিলিতে হবে দুইজনে,
গাহিবে একজন খুলিয়া গলা
অপরজন গাবে মনে’….
‘গানভঙ্গ’ কবিতার এই চারটে line এ সবটা বলা আছে ‘music’ আসলে কী! আসলেই , Music connects people…আমার কাছে music, একটা হৃদয়ের সাথে আরেকটা হৃদয়ের মিলন। একটা মনের সাথে আরেকটা মনের স্পর্শ। এই অনুভূতি, যেখান থেকে প্রেম তৈরি হয়। প্রেমের যেমন কোনো বাঁধন নেই, সংগীতেরও নেই। খোলা আকাশের বুকেই তার মুক্তি।
Music একটা deep psychological process…
কার ভিতরে কখন কিভাবে কাজ করবে, সেটা কেউ বলতে পারে না। আমার সেই change টা হয়েছে, Music ছাড়া আমি এক মুহূর্তও বাঁচব না!! গোটা বিশ্বের সুর-স্বর-শব্দ-ধ্বনি-লয়-ছন্দ-তাল-ছবিকে অনুভব করি, যেটা খুবই প্রাকৃতিক। আর music আমাকে সবটা ফিরিয়ে দেয়, সবসময়। শূন্য থেকে ভরে দেয়।সুখে-দুঃখে-আনন্দে-বিষাদে-রাগে-অভিমানে-সমস্যায়-সমাধানে জীবনের প্রতিটা ক্ষেত্রেই কাজ করে, ওই বাঁধা তারটা…. যেটা কখনো কোনো এক সময় বাঁধা হয়ে যায় খুব প্রাকৃতিকভাবেই। তারপর সেই তারে, প্রাণ আসে। অভিজ্ঞতার সাথে সাথে।
আর সংগীতে এমন ‘প্রাণ’ থাকা চাই, যাতে সময়ের সঙ্গে সঙ্গে তার বয়স বাড়ে!!”, Here we observe a different perspective, she considers music to be a deep psychological process. Here music is related to the psychology of a person. Rishab Gupta (IT systems engineer) said, “Music is an indispensable part of life. It is something which helps you heal when nothing else works. You put earphones and start reminiscing. Sometimes it brings out tears and sometimes make you feel ecstatic and powerful. I can’t imagine my life without music.” So here encounter another critical expression, ecstacy.. Sritama Basu (Social Worker and Musician) added, “I actually don’t know how to put it in words, but, according to me, It’s a spiritual path to liberation”, Liberation is another idea we encounter for the first time in the discussion. She also adds, “It is a way of life one may choose to live”. Talking of way of life, we may refer to the works of Moushumi Bhowmik on her website http://www.thetravellingarchive.org/home/. The way of life that is captured in this website is diverse, varied and filled with musicological and ethnomusicological references.

Sayan Mitra (Technology Analyst and musician) puts in his opinion, “Music, I believe is a soul in itself. Hence a form of energy. The energy which connects to our soul and takes us to that Neverland, unites us, heals us.
Once again the form is different for different human beings. Some people find that connect in Classical music, some find it in Rabindranath’s compositions, the horizon may also extend to all other genres in including film songs, opera, rap music or even the songs of the birds.
Remembering the line, “The earth has its music for those who listen”. So, we may embrace it in a different way, but ultimately it binds us together. I would term music as a religion which unites and doesn’t divide. A single note or maybe a phrase generates different emotions every time. And those different emotions creates the path which takes us to a different Neverland. And I would love to see it different every time.”
From Sayan’s opinion we get another perspective of a neverland and we also see a multidimensional perspective towards music.
Gargi Chowdhury (Marketing manager and Musician) added to the discussion, said, “Music is a way to travel to a space where you can be yourself, where you’re free..where you can express all your emotions in an uninhibited manner.. it’s a way to express things which cannot be express through words.. Sometimes we feel pain while listening to music, that pain leads to unconditional happiness.. sometimes music makes us ecstatic, and I feel there is no other space or time where we can reach that level of Ecstasy. Music is simultaneously very personal and universal at the same time. A time and space where everything unites into one.” Gargi’s opinion reminds us of an infinite divergence. From a point of personal emotion to a cosmos of universal conscience. From Sayan and Gargi we also get a perspective of a travel through music. A continuous departure and arrival through the lanes of music. Sangita too mentioned about the dynamism of music whose age increases with the age of society.

In conclusion, I would like to say, If we consider 7.53 billion as the population of the world, then there will 7.53 billion different answers to one question. So 1 billion different solutions to the same problem. So a travel from a single point to infinite multitudes. That is the essence of music. A travel, a journey from a single point and moving in n different directions, where n tends to infinity. Hope we can continue this discussion and dive deep into the mysteries of sound and the multitudes of music.