Music – ubiquitous and supremely important
In Western societies, appreciation of music and the other arts is an activity somewhat removed from our ordinary life of getting and spending. We set aside particular periods of time for it and we often go to special places like concert halls, and art galleries to find what we are looking for. The arts tend to occupy a special niche of their own, as if they might be a luxury rather than a vital part of human life.
In ancient Greece, which is usually considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization, music was both ubiquitous and supremely important. Although we know little about how Greek music actually sounded, classical scholars refer to it as an art which was woven into the very texture of their lives. As in our culture, elaborate instrumental skills were the preserve of professional musicians but the Greeks considered that instruction in singing and in playing the lyre should be a regular part of education for every freeborn citizen. Music was an important feature of domestic celebrations, feasts and religious rituals. “We attach supreme importance to musical education, because rhythm and harmony sink most deeply into the recesses of the soul and take most powerful hold of it, bringing gracefulness in their train and making a man graceful if he be rightly nurtured, but if not the reverse,” Plato.
Nowadays the idea that music is so powerful that it can actually affect both individuals and the state for good or ill has disappeared.
The whole inner development in this time of extreme materialism is very much influenced by present time. It does mean that the human being looses the spiritual part which exists in singing. With singing, the human being can lift itself above the limits of the physical, find connection with his fellow man and his inner self, using his body as an instrument.
Music and singing reaches further than consciousness and it can be a very good contribution or the main contribution to bring man closer to his inner impulses in life.
Singing can bring together thoughts and feelings and also help to create a new relationship towards human activity by creating balance in everyday life. This is how new possibilities for people and the whole human culture can appear. Singing lifts people out of their daily routine into a new inner life experience which can be nutrition for the tasks of their everyday life. One could call this musical breathing. In this way music can gain a concrete meaning for one’s life and daily life than becomes more musical.
Present state of singing
As culture and education has changed over the last centuries, people nowadays are singing less than ever before. Millions of people, during their everyday life, are not singing anymore.
About 200 – 300 years ago humans could sing 3 – 4 octaves, and nowadays only a little more than one. The tendency is that our voices become lower, inflexible, and hardened (more physical). Our voices can not develop as was possible in earlier days.
When singing in social occasions stops (by the river or sitting on the benches), the replacement by reproduced music (radio, TV, records, tapes) begins. The emptiness which appears is filled by a substitute. The substitute (in a way “perfect” but unreal music) distracts our consciousness and makes us dependent on it in such a way that we miss it when we don’t have it. After enough time of consuming the substitute it’s hard to find any live performance which could be compared with music from CD’s, records or tapes.
As our abilities are decreasing, the threshold to make music actively ourselves is bigger. It’s much easier to turn on the radio and listen to the “perfect” performance, than to try to do something alone, which gives one a much bigger pleasure than simply listening to the radio or a CD.