Some people may think the only international language is love. Wrongo, punks. What kind of person loves someone they can’t even talk to?
Nope, the real international language is art. Some of it is international because without words it expresses a deeply held belief or invokes a powerful emotion. Some of it is international because it has value and meaning to a wide variety of cultures and countries around the globe, even if that meaning is not exactly the same everywhere. Some of it is international because no one really understands it, in any country. Regardless, art serves to connect us, whether through response to it, esteem for it, or rejection of it.
A more specific example can be seen here, relating to the specific art of classical music. Now, whether or not you are a fan of classical music (or of the NY Philharmonic), the idea of a symphony being a bridge between two very different and often opposed cultures is inspiring to me. it reminds me of that famous World War Christmas, when both sides stopped fighting and just sang carols back and forth in their disparate languages. There is a respite, a gift, and a connection we share in music that has power and deep meaning, something of significance that I hope we can learn to develop.
There are studies that show calming effects due to music, and it is also thought to improve brain function in the elderly by stretching parts of the brain that are not typically or as frequently exercised. There has even been some success in the area of music therapy and Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Finally, this article paints an even more hopeful picture of the relationship between sound and better health. Too bad I didn’t see this long one first.
Though it seems like similar types of music are processed by various people in similar ways, musical taste remains a hallmark of individual personality. Why is this? Is preference in some way linked to who we are, or who we want to be? Does the emotion/memory/endorphin rush sparked by music look the same, or mostly the same, in all of us? Or is some part of that response to music colored by our own preferences, or tastes? Could music, over time, affect who we are, and if so, does it provide some evidence to a true ‘generation gap’ due to what type of music is popular in our culture at a given time?