Music has been called both the most mathematical and the most abstract of the arts. Unlike words, pictorial images, or bodily movements, however, musical tones in themselves have no concrete associations, and gain meaning only when they are combined into musical patterns.
Philoshopers have always been intrigued by the problems inherent in attempts to define music. Three centuries before the birth of Christ the Greek philosopher Aristoxenes distinguished between speculations on the nature of music and attempts to explain actual musical practice. Like most medieval music theorists and their Greek predecesors. Boethius (c 480 - c 524) held a very broad view, dividing music into the harmony of the universe, the harmony of soul and body, and the harmony of sounding tomes. Many non Western writers as well believing the power of music to be less tied to the material world than are the other arts and sciences, have perceived it as an inherently mystical or occult force, able to unlock elemental truths or principles that cannot be otherwise translated into written or graphic form. "Music is born of emotion," Confusius observed. Whether vocal or instrumental, music has also been viewed both literally and figuratively as a form of language or speech, with less specificity that the spoken word but processing subtler shades of meaning and more emotive force. It is not a "universal language," however, but rather like speech, an acquired one of which humans have innate capacity.
Some recent definitions of music include "organized sound," "the motion of tones, "sounding sound in motion," and "time given shape by the energy of sound." Of course no single definition can encompass all the diverse practices of music, or be free of some aesthetic bias, Robert Schumann noted that "perhaps it is precisely the mystery of her origins which account for the charm of her beauty."
Archaeologists have discovered musical instruments dating back almost 30,000 years. Ceremonial music predated recorded history and, according to certain theories may predate human speech. Folk music is also common to all societies. Although folk songs, too, can be associated with certain functions (work songs, spiritual music, and so on), they are often performed solely for the pleasure they bring. More structured musical traditions evolve from ceremonal, folk, and related types of practice to become overtime, classical (or "art music") traditions. The music is now increasingly performed for its own sake, in its own time and place, and it has its own meaning.
The comprehend and enjoy a musical performance, one most have some familiarity with its choice of sounds, its nuances, and its organizing principles and a grasp of its function, of how the music is intended to be heard. When considering the quality of a sound or of a musical passage. It is often necessary to distinguish among the acoustical properties of the source, the subjective mental perception of what is heard, and the ways in which musical training and experience color a listener's response. These consideration involve such disciplines as acoustic (the science of physical properties of sound) and psycho acoustic (the study of how sound are interpreted) . Music theories are attempt to codify the elements, techniques and form of music. Musicology traces the historical development of styles and forms. Aesthetics examples artistic values and judgments. Branches of psychology and sociology consider broader issues in the relation of music to mental processes and social changes.