Music is not only sound

After working with music-related movements for some years, and thereby arguing that movement is an integral part of music, I tend to react when people use “music” as a synonym for either “score” or “sound”.

I certainly agree that sound is an important part of music, and that scores (if they exist) are related to both musical sound and music in general. But I do not agree that music is sound. To me, sound is one (and an important one) component of music, but not the only one. From the perspective of embodied music cognition, music is truly multimodal, meaning that all our senses and modalities are involved in performance and perception. This is not to mention all the cultural and contextual elements involved in our experience of music.

From a scientific point of view it makes sense to try to separate musical sound from all the other sensations and contextual elements, but we should not forget that the magic of music is really based on how all the components work together.

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Alexander Refsum Jensenius is a music researcher and research musician living in Oslo, Norway.