What music seems to express
When we listen to music, it feels like the music is telling us to have certain feelings about some situation that we are in, or that someone is in.
However, the music by itself never fully expresses these feelings, and it does not tell us in any specific sense the details of the situation giving rise to those feelings.
These missing details always have to be supplied by something else.
The something else can be any of the following:
- The lyrics of the song
- The internal thoughts of the person listening to the music
- A music video, or a scene from a film
Actually, more than one of these can be supplying missing details, and also, each might be supplying different missing details – so the lyrics of a song might be filling in different details to the those provided by video content, and both of these might be different to what the music listener is thinking about.
The possible history of music
Given this understanding of what music expresses, and the apparent incompleteness of what the music provides by itself, we can reasonably wonder:
- Has it always been the purpose of music to incompletely express an emotional feeling about a situation, leaving something else to fill in the missing details?
- Or, was there a time when each musical item more fully expressed a specific emotional feeling about a situation, including some or all the details of that situation?