Jonas Janson / Blog

Thoughts about making music #1

It just hit me that a few thoughts on making music could be in it's place on this page. In this first post I'm not going to get technical in any way, this one goes to those listeners who are not musicians and most likely won't be making any music on their own (needless to say that you are all encouraged to try it if the inspiration hits you.)

"Music is an art form whose medium is sound."

That's the first thing you find if you look up the word 'music' in the wikipedia..... doesn't say much, does it?

"You need ears to perceive music." would be another just as unnecesary statement in the same direction - I think that we all have a pretty clear idea of what music is, the fact is that we all have OUR OWN idea of what it is. No need to say it's sound, we all got that far without a dictionary. Now here comes my definition:

"Music is is a kind of speech which, due to it's lack of words, has very little logical comunication content and thus provokes much more emotional reactions."

Yes, it's true, some music has words to it as well, lyrics for instance, or a painting title that tells you what the piece is all about. But the lyrics would never sound like this:

"....TOKYO (MarketWatch) -- Investors will get a look at Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.'s full-year financial results next week, and also focus on two March reports on manufacturing activity in China as well as industrial-output data from Japan. ...."

... but more like this:

"Break, Break, Break At the foot of thy stones, oh sea And I would That I could Utter the words that arise in me"

The first is an exerpt from the NASDAQ stockmarket hompage's analysis of the Asian market (lot's of logic - no emotion) and the second one is a poem of Lord Alfred Tennyson from the 19th century. It's pretty clear which one could be fit to be lyrics for a song, right? The stockmarket exerpt is intended to fill you with precise, reliable economy information and that takes your attention away from the emotional aspects of the message (horrible truth: the majority of the poor people on earth live in Asia) so you can fous on what's unfortunately too important in western society today: how to make more money. Now compare with the second text, the Tennyson poem: it's full of words that make you IMAGINE things and that's precisely the point of music, poetry and other artforms. It's not supposed to fill you with precise facts, it's not supposed to fill you with much at all! The way good music works is that it provokes a REACTION within the listener. The emotions that came afloat when we listened to that music were there all the time, the sound that hit the ear only made us aware of it, and that is where the real beauty of art is found. What we perceive emotionally is actually just the mirrored picture of ourselves! We believe that the emotion comes from the music, but it's not true. The emotion was only unlocked by the music, the rest happens within you. So to speak, the music is there to give you a broader and deeper connection to yourself.

With all this in mind I would say that the attitude of a composer, singer or instrumentalist must be the one of absolute humbleness before his / her task. Our own perception of what we are doing is of secondary nature as the actual product of our making is a REACTION within another human being, not a song, a poem or the soundtrack to a film. Those are only the tools that we use to provoke the reaction.

Now listener: go find more music to unlock your emotional secrets, it's all there within you and most of it is yet to discover.


Bernd Voss
Bernd Voss  (over 6 years ago)

Hi Jonas,
interesting reflections about music.
Have you heard of the book "Ev´rything is connected, the power of music" by Daniel Barenboim?
by the way , the songs on your page are great.
Hope to hear some more soon.
What does UTI VÁR HAGE mean?
un saludo desde Sevilla

Ana Camille
Ana Camille  (over 6 years ago)

Hi Jonas, a thought provoking description of the mysterious alchemy between the musician, the music , and the listener.
Your comments carry a certain reflective quality. I have very much enjoyed reading here to day. Thank you.