The NBT Music Columns : The Gender Of Music

barbara-gilles.jpg By Bárbara Gilles  The Gender of MusicAccording to Aristotle, the Greek philosopher Protagoras used the terms masculine, feminine, and neuter to classify nouns, introducing the concept of grammatical gender. In Spanish the article defines the gender; unlike English, which has a unique article for all genders. In English we say “the music”, just like we say “the man”, or “the woman”. But in Spanish it´s said “la música”, which gives Music a feminine gender. So it is in German : “die Musik”. Music is often taken for some kind of muse, or fairy, who inspires, elevates and brings relief to humanity. We are used to personify it–or her– as a woman. A sort of virgin (when I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me… ) maternal, holy, divine, immaculate, sacred, magic, powerful, superior, different from us. Music surely is something mysterious. It´s made by man, but sometimes it makes us feel like no human could. It´s a language itself. It can speed up our heartbeats and shock us with a story. We might even think that we love the composer, although we never met him or her. Music without words… That´s even more unexplainable. I once read that we, humans, social beings, naturally record information in our brains since the day we are born, taking note of everything we perceive with our five senses, in order to understand our environment. Our memory is our secret weapon. We remember our mother´s voice, her tone, her smell, her touch. And we are able to recognize her and answer to her. That´s our first achievement in understanding any language. Ok, any other animal can do that. But then we are able to recognize and remember different sounds, then words (and their meanings), then sentences… and voilà: Language. The book I read said that we enjoy listening to something and understanding it. Either because we heard it before, or because it surprises us. When we are in a foreign country and suddenly we hear someone speaking our language, or dialect, it draws our attention immediatly. Well, music sometimes is like a mathematical problem, in which we are to pay attention to every detail to get away with a solution. Do you remember the feeling after solving a math problem? Satisfaction. We understand, and it feels like heaven. We are proud, we connect with this abstract message. If Music is a language, it´s about communicating. It really has a message. Its elements can be combined in infinite ways and make us dance, laugh, cry, want to break something or want to love or be loved. Janis Joplin said that nothing compares to music, not even making love. But… is there any way to combine both things? Is it possible to make love to music? Back to where I started, how would you personify music? I often get the feeling that I love music and I would want to hug it and embrace it, just like it does with me, as if it were a person! I don´t know, maybe to say thank you, or something that only could be expressed with a hug. Freddie Mercury said about the legendary soprano Montserrat Caballé: “I love Music, and she is Music.” What if music was a man? That could work better for me in that way. In such picture, I see myself hugging him and confessing that he is the love of my life. But… wait a minute. Music sometimes has a face. It´s the face of the true human love of my life. I love him. I love music. Is Music him??? I doubt it, but he surely is a strong muse. Where did that relation come from? Well, because both are kinds of love which are sometimes a pure deep hate, or confusion, irresistible attraction or any form of having fun. It´s something dinamic that changes every day, but, as far as I know, it gets better and better, deeper, more passionate, more interesting every day and every night. Sometimes, not always, I put a face to Music, and it doesn´t really matter which, or its gender, because I keep on falling in and out of love with her-him-it-us-you.

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