It seems that once I get going on a topic, I just can’t stop. So I was pondering music a bit more today, especially about the typing of songs. All genres of music seem to have a few things in common that are almost archetypal. There is a certain type of song that I can’t quite define – longer, more melodious perhaps, with longer note lengths and a slower beat – that seems more reflective and/or sad. This can be true of any music genre – pop, country, folk, indie, R&B. Even rap is more reflective and sometimes sad when it’s slower and more ponderous. Even Chinese Opera is. Why is that? Why is a song with words I can’t even understand, or a song with no words at all, automatically interpreted as mournful or pensive by my brain? What are those little wirings and firings in our head or genetics that get us all to think and feel these same things? And how did they come about?
I get on a similar kick about language. There are obvious parts, like onomatopoeia where a word sounds like the noise it is representing, that make sense. But most words we use are strictly arbitrary. Why is tree called ‘tree’ instead of ‘bush’? In this case the words are strictly based on how you were brought up, what you heard as a child. Still, isn’t it interesting that despite these early categories and distinctions we learn to make, there are universal constants in music and perhaps in other arts that transcend them?