Music is a medium in which humans can communicate the incommunicable, summon emotions that cannot be expressed through words, and therefore connect with and comprehend the world around them. This includes the world of nature, one which has become removed by many from the world of humans. However, by examining music, it can be understood that humans and nature are not inseparable entities. Music has found a way to intertwine with the natural world, and thus humans have found a deeper connection with the environment.
By listening to and creating music, one can delve into another realm of understanding. Utilizing the surrounding atmosphere for inspiration brings one closer to becoming enlightened on how we as humans can find our place within nature and not separate ourselves from it. Harmonies and rhythms can be drawn from the various ecosystems that humans experience, fostering creativity and relationships. The universe has a song, and by taking time to listen to it, we can unlock emotions of care, empathy, and innovation.
The guqin- an ancient Chinese plucked string instrument- evokes the sounds of the heavenly realms and of the human world. The instrument originally had five strings, each representing one of the five elements: metal, wood, water, fire or earth. Parts of the instrument were even named “Pillar of Earth”, “goose feet”, or “phoenix pond”. The very foundation of this instrument is based upon the natural world. Many of the pieces performed on this instrument are poetic odes to the environment.
(流水－ Flowing Water)
European composers of the Romantic Era drew inspiration from their surrounding nature and the folklore which was tied to it. For example, Vltava, composed by Bedrich Smetena was written in order to embody the feeling of the river which flows through the Czech Republic. He finds ways to characterize multiple aspects of the dynamic wildlife and the mighty water.
(Vltava – Berliner Philharmoniker)
Music inherently exits within the natural world. There are songs within the flow of water, crashing
waves, sounds of whales, and whispers of a breeze. We as humans have found a way to manifest these sounds into melodies which are more understandable to ourselves. We have assigned rhythms to thunder claps, we have made the flute the expression of birds, and we have denoted the stillness of nature with the mark of pianissimo on a sheet of music. Music operates in nature, and nature inspires the creation of music. Once we take some time to listen to the sounds resonating from flora and fauna, or to the sounds which humans have commissioned from the elements, we enlighten ourselves a bit more about the planet which we call our home.