Music is not just related to art; it is regarded as one of the five major arts of the modern world, the other four being painting, sculpture, architecture, and poetry.1 It is not easy to define what classifies as art because of the numerous areas and skills covered under this umbrella term. However, there are some basic characteristics that are similar across all types of art. To begin, let’s try to understand art.
Definitions of Art
Art means something different to every individual. For instance, some people consider it a way to express themselves; for some others, it may just be business—a means to an end, and there may be some others out there who may consider it a way to preserve culture and tradition.
To complicate matters further, what people consider art varies from person to person. The creators, critics, onlookers, collectors, etc., everyone has their own interpretation of what art means. This difference in opinion is evident from how some of them defined it.1
1. “Art completes what nature cannot bring to a finish. The artist gives us knowledge of nature’s unrealized ends.”2
- Aristotle, philosopher, and scientist, (284–322 bc)
2. “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”2
- Michelangelo, sculptor, painter, architect, and poet (1475–1564)
3. “Art is an effort to make you walk a half an inch above ground.”2
- Yoko Ono, multimedia artist, singer, songwriter, and peace activist (b. 1933)
4. “Art is anything you can get away with.”2
- Andy Warhol, American visual artist, film director, and producer (1928–1987)
5. “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”2
- Berthold Brecht, poet, playwright, and theatrical reformer (1898–1956)
6. “Art is essentially the affirmation, the blessing, and the deification of existence.”2
- Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher, cultural critic and philologist (1844–1900)
7. “Art is a mediator of the unspeakable.”2
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman (1749 –1832)
8. “Art is the signature of civilizations.”3
- Jean Sibelius, music composer (1865–1957)
9. “Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands-on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are infected by these feelings and also experience them.”3
- Leo Tolstoy, writer, and novelist (1828–1910)
10. “Art is a discovery and development of elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.”3
- Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, designer, writer, and educator (1867–1959)
What makes music similar to other art forms?
One of the most common similarities between music and other forms of art is the way they are described. Emotions are often used to explain the way a song sounds and feels, and the same is true for other art forms. Artists use colors to express their emotions in a painting in the same way musicians use musical notes of various pitches to create the mood of a song.4
Stories are almost always woven into any type of art. This is one of the strongest similarities between music and poetry. Lyrics and words are used to express feelings about situations related to life, history, politics, myths, legends, etc. The scenes depicted in a painting, the style of architecture, and various elements that constitute a sculpture, all tell a story.5
Some basic principles of designing structures in architecture, such as rhythm, texture, harmony, proportion, dynamics, and articulation, are also a prominent part of composing music. For instance, rhythm is a repeated set of notes that create a pattern in music, and in architecture, this translates into repeated shapes, materials, spaces, etc.6
Music is unique compared to other forms of art in that it is intangible and can only be heard, but it has layers of depth similar to other art forms. The creative process, the inspiration, the struggle, and the effort that go into creating all these forms of art is probably what makes them so similar at the fundamental level.
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1. The Definition of Art (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). (2018, August 14). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/art-definition/
2. Buckland, A. (2015, March 11). What is art? 30 famous definitions. The Creative Business. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from http://the-creative-business.com/what-is-art-30-famous-definitions/
3. Marder, L. (2019, July 26). Is It Even Possible to Define What Art Is, Exactly? ThoughtCo. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-definition-of-art-182707
4. Kadira, J. (2018, April 30). What do Art and Music Have in Common? Kadira Jennings. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from https://www.kadirajenningsart.com/post/what-do-art-and-music-have-in-common
5. Savant, R. G., Jadhav, I. S., & Dudgikar, C. S. (2017). Comparing And Evoking Architecture With Music. International Journal of Engineering Research and Technology, 10(1), 159–161. https://www.ripublication.com/irph/ijert_spl17/ijertv10n1spl_28.pdf
6. Milopoulou, A. (2021, July 1). Music and Poetry, a Timeless Relationship – Radio Art – The Art of Relaxing & Meditation Music. Radio Art. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from https://www.radioart.com/blog/music-and-poetry,-a-timeless-relationship