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Music is the Only Universal Language

Music is the Only Universal Language

When people think of the term literacy, they most commonly define it as the ability to read and write, in the verbal sense. But there is a wide range of literacy apart from that, which also requires mastering a set of crucial skills. One such example is musical literacy, which is the ability to read, write, or appreciate music. Musical literacy is not all that different from the verbal kind. Leonard G. Ratner, when speaking of 18th and 19th century music, writes “Both language and music had their vocabulary, syntax, and arrangement of formal structures, subsumed under the title Rhetoric” (xiv). In other words, music, like language, is based on its own set of learned rules, and both serve as a form of communication.

But what exactly does it mean to be musically literate? One example is the ability to look at a piece of music and know how its components fit together, such as scales, key signatures, crescendos, and other parts. This is known as sight-reading, where people play an unfamiliar piece of music at first glance, because they understand counting and basic underlying principles. But musical literacy also has a wider definition. Listening to a symphony, playing a musical instrument, or even humming along to a song on the radio all show a general understanding of musical principles.

Once an individual obtains this understanding, doors are opened. That person can appreciate music on a more complex level, and musical literacy adds to a well-rounded personality and view of the world. Once people actually understand what is going on behind music, they gain a newer appreciation of its sounds.

On a personal note, I have played the piano for about 8 years, and it has opened doors for…

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…s of ability. Music can be used to express everything from emotions to political opinions. It uniquely soothes us when we are unhappy, and echoes our highest spirits. Simply put, the world would be an emptier place without literacy to translate those feelings into a language that everyone understands.

Overall, music is unique by its duality. Different forms are partial to a particular culture or time period, but every form can reach people all over the world and throughout time. To be literate musically is to spread thoughts and expression, and sometimes those musical ideas weigh more heavily than language can. Music serves as a bridge between generations, societies, and opinions, and without literacy, the world would be a much more restrictive place.


Ratner, Leonard G. Classic Music: Expression, form, and Style. London: Schirmer Books, 1980.

Capital Punishment Essay: Criminals Can Think Twice or Die Once

Capital punishment has been in effect since the 1600’s (Cole 451). However, in 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment, which was unconstitutional according to the Eighth amendment. It was public opinion that the current methods of execution, hanging, electrocution, and facing a firing squad, were too slow and painful upon the person to be executed (Cole 451). The U.S. Supreme Court reversed this decision when a “cleaner” way to bring about death was found in 1976. This “cleaner” way is death by lethal injection, which is quick and painless if administered right (Cole 450). Since capital punishment has been reinstituted many people have argued for and against capital punishment. Some say the death penalty is what the criminal deserves while others object to it because death is irreversible. I feel the death penalty is a good form of justice because only about 250 people a year get the death penalty and they are guilty beyond a doubt and don’t deserve living with the possibility of parole. The sentencing judge or jury are ordered by the Supreme Court to look for “specific aggravating and mitigating factors in deciding which convicted murderers should be sentenced to death” (Cole 451). Some of these mitigating factors are the defendant’s motivation, character, personal history, and most of all remorse (Costanzo).

Every year approximately 250 new offenders are added to death row. In 1994 there were 2,850 persons awaiting execution. Yet no more than thirty-eight people have been executed a year since 1976. This is a ridiculously low number compared to 199 persons executed in 1935 (all from Cole 451). The reason for this slow execution rate is the process of appeals, from sentencin…

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… is a punishment that will remain active for a long time in the future, even with all the criticism. It is an ancient way of dealing with extremely serious offences that plague our country today. Hopefully the appeals process will be shortened, but remain effective, so more criminals can be executed, making prospective criminals think twice.

Works Cited

Bailey, William C., “Murder, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence” 1994. Journal of Social Issues.

Cole, George F., The American System fo Criminal Justice 1995, New York.

Costanzo, Mark “Attorney Persuasion in the Capital Penalty Phase” 1994. Journal of Social Issues.

Death Penalty Discussion, Sept. 12, 1994. Search on Turbogopher under “Execution”.

Death Penalty, May 12, 1994. American Civil Liberties Union. Search on Turbogopher under “Execution”.

The Electric Chair, Aug 13, 1993.

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