Are you ready to hear what I’ve been thinking about this time? I think a lot… too much… it doesn’t really matter, though because no one reads this. I regret nothing.

I guess it’s pretty obvious what this blog post is about, seeing as I’ve titled it according to the subject I have in mind, though the people on Facebook who read the title and the first sentence won’t know specifically what I’ll be talking about because they’ll never click on the link. It really doesn’t anger me that they don’t. it just interests me that they have so little curiosity, especially when I make my blog posts sound SOOO interesting. I mean, the reason that the newspaper people put only half of the story on the front page is so that you have to turn to somewhere in the middle to find out the rest and that’s where all the other stuff they want you to read is.

Then there is the distinct possibility that I’m just not as exciting a writer as I imagine myself to be. Anyway, I digress (as usual).

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the concept of language. Language and the origin of language has always fascinated me, though for the most part, I’ve been too lazy to quench my thirst. I’ve been trying for years to convince my classmates and parents and friends and siblings and other various people that regulated language is important in the way of comprehension. If we don’t use our grammar rules, then there is a significantly higher chance that someone will misunderstand the meaning of what we write. Finally, today (not twenty minutes ago, in fact) I found a pretty good metaphor to explain the importance of grammar and proficiency in language.

Earlier, before my hand stopped functioning properly, I was practicing my violin. I had (have) a song stuck in my head that we played today in my Orchestra class and I was trying to play every other song I could think of to get it out. There’s something about playing or singing a song that gets it stuck in your head more easily than just listening to it. I’m not sure why I thought it would work since I spent two hours after school practicing the music for The Fiddler on the Roof (which happens to be the musical our drama department is doing this trimester) and more time besides that listening to plenty of other music, but I was attempting it anyway.

Despite a general lack of strength in my left hand (the source of which my physical therapist is constantly trying to locate), I’ve always been pretty good at playing the violin/music in general. Something that always surprises me, however, is when other people can’t understand some aspect of music theory that I find fairly simple. Of course, this happens in other classes too, but with music, it makes so much sense to me and there really isn’t a whole ton of stuff to remember. Music is so structured that you can’t help but understand it, once you’ve gotten the hang of it.

The same isn’t really true of the English language (/any language, pretty much), but for the most part, once you’ve learned the general rules, all the little details become either easy to understand or just easy to use (whilst writing, this is usually done accidentally). Music is it’s own language, really, so learning the rules is necessary in order to function within a setting where music is used to communicate (sort of).

If you have ever played in a musical group or sang in a choir, you’ll know that when people don’t follow the rules, the result is a mess. Even if your experience has been a friend (or yourself) who cannot sing, yet still tries to. It doesn’t work. Communication is impossible, people get confused, everyone becomes less confident, and there is no way you can play in harmony and balance when someone isn’t following the rules.

Every year at the end of the year, our school’s orchestra and band get together with the band and orchestra of our rival high school and we put on a concert. There’s this foundation that sets this up and they also get a guest director from somewhere to come and lead us. Usually they’re from some university or something. Last year, our director was this lady and the first time we rehearsed with her, our concert master got up to give the A (so that we could all tune our instruments) and handed her his violin so that she could make sure it was in tune. She then asked this question of our director:

“Do you still use a 440 A?”

The frequency of an A is 440 Hz. Our director, a little confused, answered that we indeed did. Her confusion was understandable because A is 440. That’s what it’s been for hundreds of years. Then, the guest conductor replied:

“Okay, I was just asking because there are some schools that have started using a 444 for their A.”

At the time, most of us laughed because this was such an absurd idea. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can’t just decide that an A isn’t an A any more.  I can’t imagine a world where people can just decide to change what we mean when we say that a certain note is an A or a B or whatever, but that’s the type of world we live in when it comes to the English language. People use slang words and make up words and just say/write/spell things however they want and they call it communication. Imagine if there was an orchestra wherein everyone’s A varied by just a few Hz. This would affect every note that everyone played because the A is the point at which we reference the tuning of all our other notes.

A few Hz isn’t all that much. In fact, if you play two notes that are only one or two Hz away from each other, you may not hear a discrepancy. When tuning in our high school orchestra, it’s usually pretty much okay if your strings are tuned one or two Hz away from another’s. This can be compared to people who have an average knowledge of grammar and actually try to write somewhat properly. It’s easy to understand each other and it’s pretty much good enough. Unfortunately, there are the people (internet people, I’m looking at you) who don’t even attempt to use any of the knowledge that they learned at school, if, indeed, they’re even educated. Those are the people slumped down in their chairs in the back of the orchestra whose pitches are off by more than a few Hz. Play two notes that are that far away from each other and even those with untrained ears can hear how awful it sounds.

When you’re orchestra is badly out of tune, no matter how fabulously you play all the notes, nothing is going to sound good because music is specifically engineered to sound pleasing because the wavelength/frequency of all the notes aligns and compliments the others and your notes can’t match up with the notes of anyone else because you aren’t in tune with them. If you want to know why music sounds good to us (when it’s in tune, I mean), then check out the Youtube channel of one Vihart. She made a fabulous video explaining it. It’s on there somewhere.

An orchestra can sound pretty good when it’s within a few Hz of each other. There really isn’t anything wrong with being average at using grammar either, but it’s not like we’re encouraged to be a few Hz off. The ideal would be for everyone to have perfect intonation. As I’ve played the violin for longer, the better I’ve gotten at tuning my instrument. I can hear smaller discrepancies and I can tune much more accurately. The same happens after you’ve done a lot of practicing with using proper grammar. You’re more accurate and their is less of a chance of you “being out of tune” or, in other words, misunderstanding/being misunderstood.

Everyone is always clammering about being understood. If you want to be understood so badly, then why don’t you give yourself a better chance and use the grammar skills that have been tossed at you during your duration of public schooling?

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