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The Language of Music

This is a summary of some ideas based around a module I once taught that had this title. 

Music shares some common features with language, though people disagree about whether or not music actually is a language.

Music - its 'language', conventions and forms - varies between different cultures, societies and historical periods.

Music reflects the values and circumstances of the social group which produces it and/or listens to it

The meaning of music can change over time, or when 'translated' into another musical style or culture

There are many different ways in which music can be recorded (notated)

A musical score is not the music itself, but a representation of it

Different methods of notation have different functions (e.g. some are deliberately imprecise) and different strengths and weaknesses

Notated versions of music are not always accurate, or do not always convey the 'feel' of the music

Music that is not notated develops in a different way from music that is notated

Many, possibly most, musicians do not use notation to learn, perform or compose music

Notation can support some aspects of music learning (e.g. analytical), but can also inhibit others (e.g. aural)



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