Music as Language: The Parallels of Linguistics and Music


Before I got into music composition, I wanted to be a linguist. I didn’t necessarily want to learn the language itself, but the structures and rule that governed language and language change thoroughly interested me. For years I’ve heard music is the “Universal Language” or something along those lines and you’d be surprised how close this statement is to the truth.

Phonetics: The Acoustics of Language

Acoustics is essentially the study of wave phenomenon, usually sound since it’s the easiest to reproduce and observe.  It’s like Physics for sound. In linguistics, this is paralleled by the branch called phonetics. They study the acoustical properties of sounds used in human speech. They also study how sounds are articulated and how they are perceived.

Phonology: The “Music Theory” of Language

Music theory is a study and classification of common structures that occur across different songs. Phonology does the same but with languages. They study how sounds are group together and organized in a given language. Phonologists study the phonotactics, or rules and constraints for how sounds can occur in the syllables. Phonologist also study the “prosody” or quality of a sound. This includes its stress, intonation, and pitch, all three of these also important for analyzing music as well.

Grammar: The “Music Composition” of Language

Music composition is how different musical motifs and phrases are placed together to create a unified whole. In language this is reflected in grammar, which is the study of the rules that govern how words and phrases can be combined to create sentences.

There’s a lot more I could go into, but for now I’ll leave it simple.

Check out Yesterday’s article on my musical ideals or check out my Youtube playlist where I post a daily short musical piece as practice.

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4 thoughts on “Music as Language: The Parallels of Linguistics and Music

  1. Pingback: Audio Mixing Tutorial – Compression | Audio SeXXX

  2. Pingback: Audio Mixing Tutorial – Compression | James Revels Composer

  3. Pingback: EARGASM – Nine in the Afternoon | Audio SeXXX

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