Like the maxim goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, so also the beauty of music lies in the ears of the listener

Music is often considered as an art of creation, involving the creative arrangement of sounds and suitable lyrics. But beyond the creation of music, musical consumption is an important part of the art.  Song composers often hope to reach a wide range of audience through music. On this basis, the influence of music around the world has grown. According to former Secretary General of UN, Kofi Annan, music penetrates almost every part of our lives; it shapes and reflects the society. This is why there is a pertinent song for every of the world’s topic, triumph or tragedy, love or lust. The reasons for composing songs are usually subjective to a number of factors, but the principal factor responsible for creating music comes from inspiration. Producers and artistes draw inspiration from different perspectives, these perspectives influences the theme of the song and sometimes the genre of the music.


Like other forms of art, good music holds unique aura and beauty. The beauty of music lies in the ears of the listener. Just as a man falls in love with a lady that appeals to him, people choose music styles that suit their interests from a wide range of musical genres. The only difference is that one is allowed multiple musical choices without rivalry from other favored music genres. Choices in music raise a quantum number of questions. These questions bother on the quality of sound, rhythm, lyrics, general composition and other features. Finding answers to these questions often require exercising the mind subconsciously, either in appreciation of the sound of the music or its concomitant disgust. This dialectic, of attempting to understand the theme of a song, the figurative language and non-figurative language used by the artiste, the pattern of arrangement of the features of the song, is the art of listening to music.


The irony in the art of listening to music is that though it is a common practice, it is often not consciously done. Perhaps, it is due to the powerful emotional grip of music. It could take the entire duration to warm up to a song. Sometimes one could fall in love with a song at the strike of the first chord. The intro might be the catch or the melody. Lyrics and pun can also endear a song to the listener, especially in rap songs. Falling in love with a song largely depends on factors of interest and mood. Basically, the way the song affects the listener determines whether or not it is loved. A great song charms its listener through its content and resonates long after the music has ceased. Hype and surprises are also underlining factors that could make a listener like a song.


How then do songs become one’s favorite? Like the maxim goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, so also the beauty of music lies in the ears of the listener. Favouriting a song could be based on prima facie, while sometimes, repetition of a song reveals interesting features of the song that might have been earlier missed, thus helping to understand the composition of the song better. A proper understanding of song composition usually increases the appreciation of the song by the listener. The variation in the appreciation of songs is the scheme of forming what is referred to as ‘favorite song’. The relationship between appreciation of music and favoritism is direct, i.e. the more one appreciates a song, the higher it is ranked on one’s playlist.


The exclusive nature of music to the listener provides answers to questions on what good music is or should be. Concluding on whether a song is good or not, is usually left to individual perspective. In attempting to appraise music, the recommended tools to employ should be sensitivity to music, musical memory, concentration, objectivity, experience and knowledge. These properties would help in reaching rich conclusions as regards music. Though these conclusions might differ on the basis of individuality, culture, background; properly reached conclusions are usually widely agreeable. Sometimes, appraisal of songs is done in the company of friends or as a group. This allows for perspectives to be shared, and features discussed on a particular song or a number of them. These discussions usually produce far-reaching conclusions about songs, since they are reached by fusing different perspectives through comprehensive arguments with a substantial influence of the discussants’ interests.


Conclusively, it is not enough to view music from the perspective of the composer or artiste alone, the true potential of music is reached when the perspective of the listener is considered. Just like we appreciate good pictorial art by beholding its beauty with the eye, the beauty of music is in realized in listening to it. In music, there is no one size fits all approach. Choices of music vary based on a number of factors that hinge on individuality. Though we are entitled to our opinion about music, it is necessary to consciously employ the art of listening to music to properly analyze songs and ultimately make better musical choices. As long as our choices are based on objectivity and innocence of listening ears, we would tend to appreciate the true art of music and make better musical choices going forward.


This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets

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