College Writing II
15 February 2014
The Beauty of Sound
The title prompts a question that could be answered in a plethora of ways, so why music? Music has been procedure of recreation and life since the dawn of time. Whether it be just listening to it, playing it or even finding a mate with your song, music finds a way to sneak into our lives. The Economist writes this article to shed some light on the reason why music isn’t just an object. Music is a process that fuels life. This appetite must be fueled by as the article states “singing on”. The argument The Economist is attempting to present that music is just more than noise, it gives living organisms emotion, and it fuels an extreme number of processes that make life livable.
The Economist is geared toward highly educated readers and is published by Pearson: a company that makes many textbooks we use for school. The audience could go even farther than that. The average person will listen to thirty-thousand songs in a given year, and that adds up when the average human is about seventy years. Humans will hear more songs than that, because of nature. For instance: Birds chirping on a nice spring day, or even mating calls by many other species. The article also ties to many social and physical sciences such as psychology, and biology. The article could spike many interests in the reader by just reading the first line; a Shakespearean quote: “If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it”. The intended audience could be determined as anyone who has a strong or weak connection to music and enjoys other topics of research. Along with finding a distinct audience, there are strategies to convince the intended and other audiences to see the side to see the writer’s point of view.
The incredible use of ethos in the article is sure to convince the reader to approve this article. The article is crawling with doctors of various professions. Such as, Dr. Geoffrey Miller of the University of New Mexico who revived Charles Darwin’s idea that music has a role in survival and reproduction. As well as, Dr. Robin Dunbar of Oxford University who believes music has gone on to be socially beneficial but has evolved into being sexually beneficial. Both claims by the respective doctors make an enormous statement. They show that music isn’t just something that us as people sit down and listen to. It has more value than that: it helps figure out whom our future mates will be, along with deciding how we will react to one another. Music can also lead to the manipulation of emotions, which is a common theme between Miller and Dunbar. The article also uses Dr. Steven Pinker and Dr. Aniruddh Patel to generate logos with figurative examples.
Dr. Steven Pinker makes a fascinating comparison about music: “music is like an auditory cheesecake”. The writer of the article gives a brief, but well-rounded explanation of what that exactly means:
Dr. Pinker's point is that, like real cheesecake, music sates an appetite that nature cannot. Human appetites for food evolved at a time when the sugar and fat which are the main ingredients of cheesecake were scarce. In the past, no one would ever have found enough of either of these energy-rich foods to become obese, so a strong desire to eat them evolved, together with little limit beyond a full stomach to stop people eating too much(“Why Music?”).
Using this figurative comparison of music to a cheesecake gives some insight on what music actually does. This appetite is beyond biological need, but it has become a necessity to quench it. It requires the brain to turn sound into meaning. Singing is described as an auditory masturbation to settle the craving. This explains Dunbar’s statement on how music is sexually beneficial. Dr. Patel on the other hand compares music to writing. He explains reading and writing must be taught by specialists at a critical time in a person’s life. He refers to this as a “transformative technology” because both will transform a life. Patel reasons learning music is somewhere between learning to read or write. This leads him to believe music just like reading and writing is a “transformative technology”. This ties back to Dr. Miller and favors his opinion about music and it being a part of natural selection. The ethos assists the logos because all four doctor’s ideas tie together. Small appeals to emotion are made but can be crucial in deciding whether to believe in this article or not!
An article isn’t needed to describe the felling music gives an individual. According to the article, “Around 40% of the lyrics of popular songs speak of romance, sexual relationships and sexual behavior” (“why music?”). Almost half of the music anyone will listen to deals with love: an emotion any person cherishes. The other 60% could be a variety of other emotions or feelings. For instance: Know Hope, an album by The Color Morale is about the struggles we find every day in believing in spiritual or personal hope. Even the album title gives a neat portrayal on words. The Economist’s article gives us reminder that we all react to music completely differently. It is up to the listener or viewer to decide how they feel. The piece offers visual aid to go with the textual piece.
The Economist uses two illustrations to portray that music is a creative process. Just as it writing a song, it requires a process. The illustrations depict very intricate designs (see Fig. 1).