Why Music Matters is the first comprehensive guide to understand what is happening in our world today. It is also, I argue, the best book ever written on the subject. The reasons why music matters extend far beyond those typical questions asked by school teachers: What does it do for me? How does it make me feel?
There are many answers, many more theories offered up every day. But what they all have in common is this: music makes the experience of life more interesting. Even if, from an objective perspective, music doesn’t actually influence the way we live, it certainly can affect our emotions and how we experience life. In fact, music – with its variety and richness of emotion, its ability to evoke longing and joy, its ability to communicate a story in two dimensions (the subjective and the objective aspects) and its ability to bring people together, can work as magic in our lives.
In Why Music Matters, Hesmondhalgh uncovers the key features of music and how they relate to the human condition. He begins by defining music as the “language of the soul.” A language, he suggests, that operates on two levels, producing and communicating true feelings on a personal level and on a social level, which is the level of government, education, etc. He further insists that music not only expresses such emotions as happiness, sadness, anger, etc, but it can also serve as a tool for learning and educating young people. Finally, he contends that music theory and appreciation are not unrelated concepts, for the study of music has been deeply influenced by developments in fields as diverse as mathematics, philosophy, and psychology.
Why Music Matters is organized into seven Parts. These include: The Nature of Music, The Role of Musicians in Our Lives, Musical Expression, Music Styles, Audience Response, Musical Ideas, and Music History. I was very glad that Dr. Hesmondhalgh includes a chapter on Music Theory in this book.
Part one of why music matters deals with the nature of music itself and how different types of music have developed throughout history. Examples include the development of Western music through the evolution of Western music theory, and classical music through the development of piano and violin styles. Further, he points out that despite its popularity, most people incorrectly assume that all types of music are created equally or that there is a single “ature” of music that can be characterized according to its structure.
Part two of why music matters considers how music relates to the brain, specifically how it relates to language. Specifically, Dr. Hesmondhalgh looks at how music compares to language in a variety of ways. He shows how music can help you understand what’s going on in your head, what’s going on in your body, how you’re feeling emotionally, how you’re thinking, and more. Additionally, he looks at how music helps you learn new things, how it can enhance your memory, how it can relieve stress, and much more.
The last part of why music matters considers how it can help you improve your life and professional opportunities. Learning music is important, especially for musicians because it helps them focus their efforts on what they do best – making music. Musicians need practice and dedication just like everyone else. However, it is also important to take some time out to listen to and enjoy the work that you do. This helps you grow personally and professionally as well.
These are only a few of the many reasons why music matters. If you don’t believe that music makes you feel or think, then perhaps you should find out for yourself! You might be surprised at just how much music can really change your life. It might even inspire you to start your own band!