Musicians have to deal primarily with emotions. It is too much of a musician to be realist. These are some of the opinions shared by Henri Delacroix, the author of "The Psychology of Art".
Debussy was said to actually suppress a landscape while walking across that landscape. He used to turn nature into sound harmonies and emotions. Perhaps more frequently than in other arts, in music the landscape is in fact a certain feeling.
In this respect, we could mention what George Sand used to say about Chopin, namely that his genius was filled with mysterious natural harmonies, translated into his musical thought by sublime equivalents and not by slavishly rendering the exterior sounds.
On the Majorca Island, as he was waiting for George Sand and her children that had been caught in violent storm, he improvised a prelude. He imagined himself lying frozen in a lake. Big, heavy and cold raindrops would fall rhythmically on his chest.
When he was told that this imagined scene was actually caused by a real-life sound, that of raindrops falling on the monastery's tiles, Chopin said it wasn't like that at all.
However, Chopin's composition inspired by that evening indeed resounded of the raindrops falling on the monastery's tiles, but they got translated into Chopin's imagination and song by tears falling from heaven onto his heart.
As far as the song of birds is concerned, imitating this sound could have a pragmatic explanation. Hunters imitate bird sounds for most obvious reasons; even animals such as cats can imitate bird sounds in order to catch their prey more easily.
The bird's calling sounds are actually imitated. But this act of imitating bird sounds can also have a magical dimension. Thus, by animal sounds one can invoke things like heat or rain. This imitation can also be part of a game. The birds' song is only music for the musical ear. Is it music for the birds also?
Birds are incapable of transposing the sounds. The bird is sort of chained at the peak of its very own sounds. Birds are incapable of unifying their motives into melodies. They cannot build up musical phrases. So the musical imitation of bird and animal sounds implies interpretation and stylization.
As far as the human speech is concerned, some say that human speech can also hide songs in it. Music can imitate feelings by following the inflections of language, the movement and the rhythm of the discourse. All it has to do is increase its force and intensity and to dramatize it a little bit.
The primitive songs had a rather monotonous character. They were related to speaking. We could conclude that in pre-historic times the language of music was with a little bit of exaggeration though, the very language of passion.
It separated itself slowly and smoothly from the language of the emotions. In other words, the combinations of sounds do not have an intrinsic significance, different and independent from man's structure.
Music was not born out of language. At savage, primitive people, music was often accompanied by meaningless sounds which were only meant to make vocalization easier. Also, Delacroix says, savages treat words and the structure of sentences with an extraordinary freedom.
But music is quite different from the spoken language and most certainly did not derive from it. Music probably came out from the entire dynamics of life itself, of man's thought, and let us say that music actually came from music itself, as Henri Delacroix puts it. It came from the melodic and harmonious creation of the world of sounds.
Music is usually accompanied by dances. Children, primitives or adults that want to go back to the infantile simplicity of life, express their joy through dances. Thus, the powerful and stimulating feelings were usually turned into irregular and lively movements, usually into jumps, shouts, and so on.
But apart from this elementary kind of dance, we also find the ecstatic, mimic or dramatic kind of dance and last but not least, the usual kind of dance, the art of dancing. At any rate, all these three means of expressing our human emotions are not only unique in themselves, but also intertwined, in certain conditions.