• Share Your Thoughts: Is Music Spiritual, Mental, Or Physical?

    in General Music,Piano

    A lot of people have asked this question: “is music spiritual, mental, or physical?”

    Attention: The goal of this interactive lesson is NOT TO offend anyone’s sensibility, but to create a forum where we can share our thoughts on the spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of music.

    I’ll do my best to present music in three lights:

    1. In a spiritual light
    2. In a mental light
    3. In a physical light

    …and at the end of this lesson, you’ll share your thoughts with me.

    Music Is Spiritual

    Music is spiritual and that’s why it’s an integral aspect of religious worship in a vast majority of religions.The ritualistic value of music and the effective role it plays cannot be over-emphasized.

    From Christianity, to Islam, to Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, etc. (even in African Traditional Religions), music plays a key role in worship.

    If you carefully listen to the music of the great composers of the Baroque period (in the likes of Bach), the virtuousic, ghostly, nocturnal, and fearful music of the romantic period (1820 to 1900) that’s written by great composers like Frederic Chopin, Niccolo Paganini, Franz Liszt, etc., you’ll agree with me that it takes metaphysical ability to write such compositions.

    Attention: Niccolo Paganini was a musical god in his days and was said to have sold his soul to the devil. Whether this is true or not, an insight on the life and times of Paganini reveals so much about the spiritual dimension of music.

    While so many people will dismiss music to be a mere mental or physical activity, rarely have you had accomplished musicians in the past or present who are not in touch with the spiritual plane/realm.

    In traditional African societies, musicians are not ordinary people. They are considered as gifts from the gods because of their extra-ordinary ability to use musical instruments to depict several aspects of life.

    Music is one of the human activities that transcends humanity and so many songs and compositions have been written under the influence and inspiration of a deity or the spiritual realm and that’s why music has so much power.

    Plato understands that music is spiritual and according to him, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everythingā€¯.

    Music Is Mental

    Music has to do with several mental processes that makes it possible for a musician to sight-read, audiate, analyze, compose, understand theory, and more.

    Take a closer look at some of the everyday activities musicians do.


    The ability to see, recognize, and play a piece of music written on paper is on the mental level.

    Think About The Whole Process…”

    The eyes see, the mind recognizes, the hands and feet play, then the ear confirms that what is played is what was written.


    Audiation is the complex mental process of thinking, hearing, and understanding music; especially when there’s no music available.

    The ability of a musician to internally hear, think, and understand how notes, scales, intervals, chords, chord progressions and songs are organized in time (rhythm) is mental.


    While everyone else is enjoying good music, the musician is doing some active listening, analyzing the harmony, melody, rhythm, and other components of the song.

    A musician has the mental ability to breakdown a song into chord progressions; understand the modulations and cadences in a song; identify the instruments used in a song; determine the key and tempo of a song; say exactly the number of bars in a song; and identify the form or structure of a song.


    It takes a level of mental effort to put notes together to form a melody, then harmonize the melody using chords and/or bass notes.

    A musician either by nature or nurture understands the mental process of creating music using elements and principles of composition (whether written or unwritten).

    In addition to the ability of a musician to compose is the ability to improvise and that’s where a musician composes spontaneously in a performance situation.

    Understanding of Theory

    A musician understands key-signatures, time-signatures, hundreds of chords, interval between notes, harmonization, and more.

    This is because he’s mentally equipped (formally or informally) to understand the theory of music and how it works.

    Music Is Physical

    Music is 100% physical.

    There are so many physical things a musician does; music production, music performance, music therapy, music technology, music publishing, music education, etc.

    All musical instruments are physical; the process of playing an instrument or singing is physical, the audience is physical, and the musician is also physical.

    The basic raw material of music is sound and according to scientists, sound is produced by physical vibrations and are perceived by our ears (which function as receptors) as pitches. Consequently, music is physical.

    Away from the scientific understanding of music as sound, music is a material aspect of the human culture. Every ethnicity, race, tribe, people, and tongue have their musical practices, instruments, performance approaches and more.

    Final Words

    In my opinion, music is 100% spiritual, 100% mental, and 100% physical. I’ll also love to have you air your views and what you think about music.

    Do you subscribe to the school of thought were music is just spiritual, or are you of the opinion that music is mental, or do you see music as a physical activity?

    Kindly share your thoughts with me in the comment section; so I can know what you think.

    See you in the next lesson.

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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