Is Music a Universal Language?

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“Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb; Mary had a little lamb, whose fleece was white as snow.” For centuries “Mary had a little lamb” has become one of the most universally recognized nursery rhythms since being published in 1830. Centuries later it is still one of the most popular songs of the world. Merriam Dictionary defines music as “the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity.” With that in mind, music is found everywhere. Whether it’s in the Great Wall of China to the jungles in Africa, music is found everywhere. The main purpose of this paper is to show that music is in fact a universal language by comparing music with other official languages, showing how music influences emotions and how music literacy and emotions helps people understand music as a language. In order to fully execute my purpose of proving that music is a universal language, I will be focusing on using personal experiences, researching articles and specific musical examples from class.

Music is a universal language because it is found everywhere in the world and it is a language of its own. Merriam Dictionary defines literacy as “a person who can read and write.” In this definition this shows that in order for somebody to be called literate they must be able to read and write a language. Well most people consider “English, Chinese, French, Spanish etc.” as official languages but does not consider music as a language. In order to master any language a person must be literate which requires them to master a set of rules. It is interesting to know from taking World Music class that in order for students to listen and appreciat...

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...s a set of rules which musicians must follow. Also just like any official language, music can be used to communicate emotions. In order for somebody to understand music they must have some sort of knowledge about rules in order to appreciate musical experiences. Every culture is different, every language is different and every music is different, but to fully appreciate the music; listeners must be musically literate. In our first week of class, “Khoomi” was our first musical example and all the students were confused about this type of music. But now with my little knowledge about music and how diverse it is, I learned to appreciate it more.

Works Cited

Dobrian, Chris. "Music and Artificial Intelligence.” In University of California, Irvine Department of Music.,

(Accessed May 1, 2011)

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