It Sounds Like…

Scientific analysis is a thing that, by nature, is cold, dispassionate, logical, and wholly objective, and as such it cannot clearly define something as varied and personally subjective as the concept of music. Although definitions of music exist, scientific definitions gravitate toward music theory, not music itself. So in the sterile, detached world of scientific analysis, music is generally categorized as a form of audible sound, and that’s about as clear as the definition gets. In similar fashion, the sterile, detached realm of things scientific commonly defines sound as vibratory energy transmitted through material classified as elastic mediums. Now before distended images of Whoopi Goldberg’s “Oda Mae Brown” character from the movie Ghost go running through anyone’s head, it must be explained that an elastic medium is matter that undergoes some degree of stretching or compression as caused by vibratory energy. This definition usually means the presence of air or water, not fortune tellers (sorry, Oda Mae). We hear sound through the air and while underwater, but the perception of outside sound while underground or in a locked chamber is possible if the sound source is powerful enough to vibrate the elastic medium (in this case, the walls and air) surrounding the listener. So while it’s hard to think of rocks, metal, and people as even minutely elastic, they are to the extent that each can vibrate to a certain degree and thus conduct what is the scientific definition of sound.

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