The Language of Music

Words we write with the intention to have them read in silence carry a different tone than words written to be read aloud. Pitch, timbre, inflection, meaning, and more can be implied or perceived directly from the words we choose, how we string them together, and the media channels where we distribute them.

While we often connect with words on paper or on screen, we may also hear them speaking to us from the soundtracks of movies, videos, podcasts, or radio shows — any of which may add “background” music for greater impact.

Music itself is a language we humans share — even if you don’t think you can sing. And music may be a much stronger part of who we are than we typically realize.

Maybe you’ll become a believer when you watch Bobby McFerrin create an impromptu chorus, unrehearsed but on pitch and in tune, from the audience at the 2009 World Science Festival. In just over three minutes, he demonstrates our common, powerful, and moving connection that rises naturally — with just a bit of thoughtful, playful guidance.

Bobby McFerrin and the Power of the Pentatonic Scale (video — 03:04)

How did you respond to McFerrin’s demo? Was that you I heard singing along?!

©2011 Jill J. Jensen/Clarity from Chaos