The meaning of music cannot be fathomed or derived from something else, for music is a metaphor, on the same footing as our other constructs of reality: space, time, matter and number. –Roger S. Jones, Physics as Metaphor
Music is much more powerful and penetrating than the other arts, for they speak only of shadows, but music speaks of the thing itself. –Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
…And I would give you the gift of music that you might know your own soul. –Betty Kingsley Hawkins (prefatory quotation in The Nature of Music by Maureen McCarthy Draper)
Although you and I are not identical in our perceptions of music, I assert, with help from philosophers and others, that there are some fixed points we are bound to observe, each responding in our own way:
1. Music is an absolute, existing outside of Man, along with all the other abstractions assigned by him to The Great Everything (TGE) which is too vast and impenetrable to be truly known—except, perhaps, by the few who achieve, through certain disciplines such as meditation, Nirvana, or “enlightenment” as with a Bodhisattva, or through revelation. (Note: “TGE” is my construction for what others may call God, JHWH, Jehovah, Allah, etc.).
2. Each of us, I assert, is attuned to this element or aspect of TGE in various ways and degrees. I liken each of us as having differently constructed vibrating rods (or sets of rods) that respond to the universal music according to our individual resonances. Hence, some will find, throughout life and consistently, music from the Classical Period, exemplified by Haydn and Mozart, preferable to hip-hop, though the latter may be sometimes appealing.
3. Each of us, I assert, has ability in varying degrees to receive/perceive this universal music and to interpret it first, to oneself and second, to others.
4. A special few have the ability to represent this music in accepted notational form and, therefore, can concretize the music itself by the physical representation of it.
Music flows, from TGE-knows-where and –how, to a receiving human who, with the necessary skills, makes accepted musical notations on paper (or performs to give example) to represent what he perceives, along with written (or spoken) language remarks to more fully communicate it, e.g.: tempo rubato (as with Chopin), glissando, fortissimo, etc.
A performing musician reads these notations and transforms them through her nervous system to the instrument of her choice, for her own experience and that of others.
To summarize: music from God, to composer, to paper, to player, to audience.