Where does music start?
Nature vibrates, it is full of movement. Air vibrations coming to our ears, with the frequency in the range from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, make the impression called sound. The sense of hearing is very important since it warns us of danger, it allows us to specify the nature of the sound source. We express our feelings screaming, crying and laughing. Sounds form speech and singing.
What and how we can hear
When the air vibrates regularly enough (some components of specific frequency can be distinguished in its movement), the perceived changes in frequency of vibration give the impression of sound pitch changes. Hearing is so sensitive to them that we could distinguish several thousand distinct heights within the sounds heard . However, if we treated them as distinct qualities and stacking various sound waveforms, we would not manage to deal with the richness of the information carried by the message. The possibilities of information processing by humans are limited so the code used to pass on a message to another person must contain a small number of elements which are easy to distinguish and which, in order to facilitate reception of sophisticated signals and their processing, should allow for the creation of a larger units composed of lower-level units. [See text Information processing by humans]
What music is made of
Making music, one of the codes of culture, the man made a radical choice – he limited the set of sounds on which it is based. Thanks to the natural similarity of sounds, which differ in the frequency in the ratio of 1:2 (when singing in one voice with men, women and children instinctively arrange melodies with sounds at frequencies twice higher than men), the frequency monotone sequence and the impression of smooth growth of height was divided into cycles: the same meaning is assigned to the sound of frequency f as the sound of frequency 2f and 1/2f. Moreover, in the space between the sounds of the same meaning only two to several grades are distinguished.
At these grades, we arrange – intuitively and instinctively – musical motifs, small groups of sounds joined by rules analogous to grammar, and melodies ; we also build chords of them.
Sets of sounds underlying music are called musical scales. Their list included in the English version of Wikipedia (entry: List of musical scales and modes) is impressive. Using the sound of scales known to the culture in which we live, we compose melodies and chords understood by other members of our community.
Used scales differed over the centuries, and still vary depending on what part of the world they originated from. However, their use is widespread .
Musical words and sentences
When we ask our friends to start singing the national anthem of Poland, no one will sing the first sound only (‘Je-. ..’), most of them will hum to the words ‘nie zginęła’. It is because, in fact, a unit of musical language is a motif. We tend to ascribe moods and meaning to motifs. The ability to distinguish between motifs allows us to recognize by the ring tone whether it is our mother or beloved person calling. With a couple of motifs – again in accordance with certain rules, which, like grammar, we rather feel than we know – we prepare phrases. Musical words form sentences, sentences can in turn build a story.
Music of our culture
Having hundreds of years, European music scales have seven grades, although many old songs and folk melodies are based on scales with a smaller number. The piano keyboard layout is repeated every seven white keys. The C major scale has seven grades. It sounds when you press the keys one after the other, because it will be, made step by step, a scale called the major scale (or Ionian scale), in which the sound called C is considered the most important one.
In a seven-grade scale, the eighth one has vibration frequency two times higher than the first one and is treated the same. Each grade has a place in the hierarchy of grades assigned. Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is performed by a soloist and orchestra of about 60 musicians. One of them plays the timpani – only two of them, tuned to the two most important sounds of the work: D and A, because the concert is written in the key of D major, so it is based on the major scale whose most important sound is D, and A is immediately after it in the hierarchy of grades.
The timpani player hits the membranes of the instrument when the chord chanted by the rest of the musicians consists of one of two of his sound. This chord is perceived as more important than others – after all, it is accompanied by a beautiful bang. Beethoven knew which chords were more important and which were less important, and arranged them so that the relationship between them caught the attention of the listener.
Sounds and chords based on more important grades occur in classical music more often than those related to the less important grades. The more we listen to such music, the better we feel the relationships linking them ; the creators of popular music use these habits eagerly.
Importance of music
Music combined with the word was formerly attributed a higher value than that performed on instruments alone. Fixed through the ages, the link between sound systems with a text, motifs similar to calls, sighs and cries, create rich musical symbolism, even 200 years ago considered very specifically as affects (accurately described feelings) or components of dignified speech (rhetorical categories) since educated people were the audience of sonatas and operas by Mozart. The romantic ideology allowed everyone to interpret the music in their own way. In the twentieth century, the concepts of music as an abstract (pure, devoid of allegorical content) play of sounds appeared – similar to an abstract painting or a mathematical account. We forgot about the symbolism of past centuries and now in music – the ancient and recent one – we mostly seek the beauty, often difficult to describe in words, and sentiments, which we easily recognize despite the passage of centuries. 
Let’s speak with the language of music
Each of us can make music and speak with her sounds. The creators of musical instruments made sure that the set of sounds at our disposal was in line with the scales known in our culture. The setup of traditional keyboard encourages to try it because it is easy to make melodies on it in the European scales. Playing even the simplest motif, let’s think what we want to express with it, since music starts when we want to express ourselves to others through it in a clear way.
 Rakowski, Andrzej: Kategorialna percepcja wysokości dźwięku w muzyce, Warszawa 1978, AMFC.
 Deutch, Diana: The psychology of music, 2nd. ed. Nowy Jork 1999, Academic Press.
 Sloboda, John: Umysł muzyczny. Poznawcza psychologia muzyki (collective translation). Warszawa 2002, AMFC.
 Harnoncourt, Nikolaus: Muzyka mową dźwięków. Dialog muzyczny (Polish translation by Magdalena Czajka). Warszawa 2011, ed. Me-Komp.
 Miller, George A: The magical number sever plus or minus two. Psychological Review year 63 (1956) p. 81-97.
We also recommend: Cook, Nicholas: Muzyka, bardzo krótkie wprowadzenie (Polish translation by Mateusz Łuczak). Warszawa 2000, Prószyński i S-ka.
Kacper Miklaszewski (born 1949) – graduate of the piano studies at Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) (1974), he also studied at the School of Music at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. In 1984, he got his doctorate degree in music theory at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. In the years 2000-2010, he lectured the basics of music psychology and conducted a seminar of music critics in the Institute of Musicology of the University of Warsaw. As a music journalist, he cooperates with "Ruch Muzyczny" and II Polish Radio Programme.