Pause. Rewind. Play!
I'd like you to pause for a moment and envision a normal day in your life.
For most of us, a regular day looks the same – We wake up, shower and get dressed, travel to work, school or university, spend time with our family and friends, eat at our favourite restaurants, go shopping at our local supermarkets, and enjoy long drives into the sunset.
Now, try and picture all of the above with the absence of music in any form. That's right – no chirpy alarm tunes, no heavenly orchestral music at your favourite eatery, no funky rhythms to shake-a-leg to at the club, and no top-20 playlists to sing your heart out to on a long drive to a cozy hill station.
Could you live with it? Could such a life even be possible?
"We humans are a musical species, no less than a linguistic one," writes Dr Oliver Sacks, as he examines the powers of music in his work Musicophilia. Sacks goes on to say, "all of us (with very few exceptions) can perceive music, perceive tones, timbre, pitch, intervals, melodic contours, harmony, and (perhaps most elementally) rhythm. We integrate all of these and construct music in our minds using many different parts of the brain."
If life can be imagined without language, without words to express deep emotions of love, belonging and acceptance, then possibly, a life without music may exist.
Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher speaks of music as, "The inexpressible depth, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain....music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves."
Moving from Neurologist and Philosopher, to the largest of malls in our cities, from luxurious fine dining restaurants to the humblest of roadside tea-stalls, music permeates all levels of society, sometimes to the auditory pleasure of a few, and sometimes also possibly, at the cost of being a nuisance to others.
Music is all around us, every minute of every hour of every day effecting our minds and emotions in ways that science is only recently beginning to make sense of. The advances in the field of neurosciences, exploring the impact of music on the brain, has begun to unveil the neural underpinnings of musical perception from the mystic to the muse. William James describes this as our "susceptibility to music," affecting us all - calming us, animating us, comforting us, thrilling us, or serving to organise and synchronise us at work or play.
With much that has been said about music, could life be lived without it?
Most certainly, yes!
Many make that choice each day - trading the tonal joie de livre for something evidently more meaningful. They drown the inexpressible depths of their hearts within the depths of the sound of silence.