Essay Example - Why Music Can Be Considered a Language

Published: 2023-04-24
Essay Example - Why Music Can Be Considered a Language
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Music Languages Intercultural communication Communication skills
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1567 words
14 min read

Music is a combination of instrumental and vocal sounds to produce the beauty of harmony, form, or express emotion. Music can also be printed or written signs that represent instrumental or vocal sound. On the other hand, language is a method through which humans communicate involving the use of words in a conventional or structured way. Language is either written or spoken. Language may vary from community based on a system of communication applied in each community. Music can be considered a language because of the following six reasons.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Contains a Message

Just like language, the music contains a message intended to be relayed to a particular group of people. The message can be expressed using instrumental, vocal sound, or both. Language reveals the message in either written or spoken form (Besson et al., 2018). By the use of words, language can express any message from simple words as sad, happy, joyful, stressed, and depressed, among many others. In the same way, music codes can be tuned to produce sounds that portray happiness, sadness, relaxation, stress, among many others. The pitch used in particular music can reveal the quality of the message the music intends to pass. Like words or letters in language, the pitch is also organized in an orderly manner to relay a particular message to the audience. When the music pitch is too high and disproportional, it will produce noise. Noise in music is a loud sound produced that is unpleasant and causes disturbance to the audience. The same thing happens with language. When someone speaks words that are not orderly arranged, it makes noise (Bowie, 2018). The product of disarranged music tones and pitch is an unpleasant sound that brings disturbance to the ear of the audience. The noise in music and language reveals a striking similarity between the two. Given that music contains and is intended to convey a particular message to a given audience, it can be considered a language since that is exactly what language does.

Cultural Transmission

Language is transmitted culturally. The language spoken by parents affects what their babies speak. Just as language, music is also used to transmit cultural values from one generation to another (Hilton et al., 2018). The kind of music played in a given community influences the interests of babies born in that particular community. When babies grow up, they master the form of music enjoyed by people of that community. Music can be said to be a medium of communicating cultures and traditions of different communities. Most communities have their way of playing music. Such ways have meanings to the people of the local community and can also make meaning to people in other communities. Like language, music can be used as a way to achieve identity in a given community (Bowie, 2018). The form, harmony, pitch, and codes used to make music may vary from one community to another. The codes may be played in a unique order that produces a unique sound attributable to a specific community. This can be considered a language due to the striking similarity between the two. Language is also composed of letters and words arranged in a unique way that makes meaning to a specific group of people in a given society (Besedova, 2016). It is what determines one community from the other. The order of letters and words are different in every community leading to the production of various meanings for different communities.


Like language, music can refer to either the past, present, or future (Bowie, 2018). Music composition has been noticed to change with time. This is because as the people of a given community grow and develop, their lifestyles tend to change with time. People regularly interact with others both from the local community as well as those from other communities. The due socialization interaction leads to the blending of cultures and the consequent changes in language and musical patterns (Ojima et al., 2018). The way music was played in the past is different from that of the present due to the use of different instruments. In the past, people used simple instruments to produce sounds. With the present advancement in technology, better instruments have been developed, causing differences in quality of music produced in the past and present times. Given such developments, more advanced instruments and music quality can be expected in the future. This characteristic of music is considerably similar to that of language (Besson et al., 2018). Language reveals what belongs to the past, present, or future times. The kind of language used in the past is different from that used in the present time. For example, most languages undergo evolution from original forms in the past to more simplified forms in the present. The evolution of languages is also influenced by constant interactions between people of different communities (Besedova, 2016). Socialization leads to blending of cultures and formation of common languages to enable quality interaction between people from different cultures. The evolutionary pattern of music and language can be seen to be highly congruent. Therefore, music can also be considered as a language.


Instrumentals and vocal sounds can be different in each music. This is a striking similarity between music and language. Sounds in human language are also different and separate from each other (Ojima et al., 2018). What makes such a striking feature in music are the various elements such as pitch, code, harmony, allocation of voices, style, timbre, articulation, melody, rhythm, tempo, pulse, structure, and form (Hilton et al., 2018). These elements make music to mimic the characteristic differences observed in human language. The quality of music is also determined by the quality of its various elements. Just as sounds in human language can be separated, so do the various elements in music. These elements hold a unique discreetness similar to that of sounds in human language. Considering all these similarities, music can be considered as a language.


Like language, music is based on personal whim rather than any existing system. The way a musician produces sounds, pitches, notes, patterns, codes, beat, or rhythm has no predictable form. The guitarist, for example, plays strings in a pattern that fits their suitability for producing a sweet and rhyming sound to the song (Besson et al., 2018). There are no rules established to guide what pattern of codes, pitches, beats, and rhythms should be incorporated for a specific song. This leaves the whole thing in the artistic works of the musician. Having listened to the song progression, it is the work of a musician to determine what pattern of sound can best suit the song (Besedova, 2016). The choice of codes, rhythm, pitch variation, and texture is crucial in producing high quality of music played. This holds a significant similarity between music and language. In language, the linguistic signs bear no natural, intrinsic, or logical association with their meaning. For example, the word light has no reasonable connection to the concept of light. It is just an arbitrary representation of the physical light we know (Bowie, 2018). Apart from that, the word is used to make meaning by passing a message about what is visible (light). The arbitrary nature of both music and human language is so similar that there is no reasonable difference that can be noted to exist between the two.


In human language, whatever we speak is productivity. Human language may refer to things that are present or imaginary, visible or invisible, and things in the past, present or future (Besedova, 2016). Creativity is one of the major characteristics of human language. In the same way, music also reflects all these features (Ojima et al., 2018). The vocal sound or instrumental is productivity in music. The quality of music depends on the creativity of the producer. Creating sounds requires artistic ability and skills of the musician. This involves being creative in both listening and responding to patterns of the song using suitable musical notes, rhythms, beats, and texture.


There are many similarities between music and language. Music, just as language, contains a message intended to reach a given audience. The message is achieved through the intentional arrangement of notes, codes, rhythms, and textures. Apart from that, music enhances cultural transmission from one generation to another. Music also facilitates displacement, enabling people to refer to the past, present, or future times. Music is discreet. The sound produced in every music is different and separate from one another. The difference is brought about by the novelty of every element in each music. The arbitrariness is also another significantly similar property between music and human language. Finally, both music and language involve a great deal of creativity to achieve high quality.


Besedova, P. (2016). Music as an intercultural medium in foreign language teaching (PDF File). The European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences EpSBS, 646-662.

Besson, M., Dittinger, E., & Barbaroux, M. (2018). How music training influences language processing: Evidence against informational encapsulation. LAnnee psychologique, 118(3), 273-288.

Bowie, A. (2018). Music, language, and literature. In Aesthetics and subjectivity. Manchester University Press.

Hilton, C., Goldwater, M. B., & Jacobson, M. (2018). Music, language, and gesture: Neural oscillations and relational cognition. In CogSci.

Ojima, Y., Nakamura, E., Itoyama, K., & Yoshii, K. (2018). Chord-aware automatic music transcription based on hierarchical Bayesian integration of acoustic and language models. APSIPA Transactions on Signal and Information Processing, 7. DOI:

Cite this page

Essay Example - Why Music Can Be Considered a Language. (2023, Apr 24). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism