Depth

Music reaches us on a deeper level than verbal communication. Spoken language is used to pass on complex and concrete ideas. Music cannot communicate these ideas, but unlike verbal communication, music can be a conduit for feelings and abstract thoughts. Music can inform us in ways words cannot.

Even though music cannot for the most part represent real objects, "most people would still contend that it expresses something which is deep and valuable and which can be communicated from the composer to the listener in such a way that it conveys some aspect of the composer's creative thought" (McLaughlin 15). The composer chooses to communicate through music because it is the most direct connection between her feelings and those of the listener.

McLaughlin quotes Edmund Gurney on this subject. Gurney believed "the prime characteristic of music, the alpha and omega of its essential effect" was "its perpetual production in us of an emotional excitement of a very intense kind" (McLaughlin 102). Music can somehow bypass our rational mind and affect our feelings directly.

In Indian classical music, the emotional content, or Rasa of a composition (a raga) is very important. That the Indian language contains a word to describe the emotional aspect of music is an indication that this aspect is important to the Indians. Derek Bailey quotes O.C. Gagnoly: "A raga is more than its physical form...its body. It has a soul which comes to dwell and inhabit the body. In the language of Indian poetics this soul--this principle--is known as the Rasa, or flavour, sentiment, impassioned feeling" (Bailey 13).

The depth and universality of music are due to its abstract nature. The other arts gain much of their power from their representational qualities. "Even the most abstract of pictures, for example, may contain patterns which are significant to us because they correspond to some real object which is emotionally important...and words cannot help having strong everyday associations, however idiosyncratic their arrangement in poetry or prose" (McLaughlin 15). Music, by contrast, is based on something more fundamental, something deeper inside us. "Music has no such roots in the real world: this is probably why Schopenhaur referred to it as the true voice of the Will (the Lifeforce, the great motivating quality in Schopenhaur's philosophy) while all the other arts were only representations of aspects of the Will" (McLaughlin 15).