Is Music REALLY the international language?

is music the international language

Dr. Cash and Dr. Jin-Hyung Lee

Is music really the international language?   I thought that that might be a bit of an exaggeration!  Now, I’m not so sure!  After spending about 8 days in South Korea in March, I was amazed at how many different places that I went were playing Western Classical Music over speakers!  Places that were uniquely Korean, such as restaurants, mega-stores, and even on the bullet train that we took from Daegu to Seoul!

As I was walking back to the hotel one day, I even passed a shop that said “Verdi Music School” and showed a picture of a grand piano and a drawing of Verdi.  So I do believe that Western classical composers and music are highly valued; composers such a Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Tschaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.  I was not terribly surprised when I heard it in the dining room of our lovely Queenvell Hotel in Daegu, but did not really expect it in the other locations, such as taxis, shopping areas, medical treatment areas at the Stadium in Daegu, where my sister was competing!

Since the Asian culture is so different from ours, I was actually expecting to hear music that used different melodies, harmonies, scales, intervals and instruments.  I’m sure that the music of Asian cultures, especially China and Japan, is very ancient and much-beloved, but as Western culture dominates the globe now and the planet shrinks because of technological advances, Western music has definitely found a place in Asia!

It is still amazing to me though, how much emotion music communicates to humans of all ages and cultures.  It seems that no matter what the historical time period, or what the instrument, emotion is clearly communicated with tempo, intensity level of dynamics, range of melody, complexity of harmony, and in the case of singers, facial expression. Do a little experiment next time you’re listening to some music that you don’t already know.  Ask yourself what the emotion being expressed is:  Joy, Sorrow, Excitement, Pride, Fear, Love?  They’re all quite expressable through music!


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