128. Reading Skills Comprehension: Power of Music

Power of Music

Read the passages given below and answer the questions that follow them:                             

When we listen to the sublime and mournful Sonatas of Beethoven, the tender melodies of Bellini, the violin of Yehudi Menuhin, the shehnai of Bismillah Khan, the sitar of Ravi Shankar or the flute of T.R. Mahalingam, we fall into a trance; the mind sweeps forth into a trance; the mind sweeps forth into an unknown world where all is dim, dusky, unutterably vast; beautiful ideas pass before us, we attempt to seize them, make them our own, but they vanish like shadows in our arms. And, then, as the music becomes soft and low, the mind returns and nestles to the heart, the senses are steeped in languor, the eyes fill with tears, the memories of the past take form, and a voluptuous sadness permeates the soul, sweet as the sorrow of romantic youth when the real bitterness of life is yet unknown.

What, then, is the secret of this power of music? Why should certain sounds from wood and wire thus touch the heartstrings? It’s the voice of Nature which the great composers combine into harmony and melody.

The music rises from the human heart when the human heart is touched by the external world. When touched by the external world, the heart is moved, and, therefore, finds expression in sounds. These sounds echo or combine with one another and produce a rich variety, and when the various sounds become regular, we have rhythm. The arrangement of the tune for our enjoyment in combination with the military and the civil dance, with long feathers and pennants of oxtails, is called music.

Music is the form wherein tunes are produced because it takes its rise from the human heart. Therefore, when the heart’s chord of sorrow is touched, the sounds produced are sombre and forlorn, when the heart’s chord of satisfaction is touched, the sounds produced are languorous and slow, when the chord of joy is touched, the sounds produced are glowing and expansive, when the chord of anger is touched, the sounds produced are harsh and strong, when the chord of piety is touched, the sounds produced are simple and pure and when the chord of love is touched, the sounds produced are sweet and gentle. These six kinds of emotions are not spontaneous but are moods produced by impact from the external world.

Little wonder, therefore, saints to propagate piety, mothers to put their babies to sleep, politicians to win in elections and even beggars to gain alms use music as a powerful tool.


I. Answer briefly:

1. Name some of the masters who are famous for their sublime music.

2. How does music affect our heart and soul?

3. How does music rise from the human heart?

4. How do different heart’s chords produce different kinds of music?

II. Vocabulary:

1.The word ‘tool’ means:

(a) thing                        (b) instrument                   (c) ingredient                    (d) part

2. The opposite of ‘joyful’ is:

 (a) mournful               (b) anger                             (c) delightful                      (d) none of these

3. `…as the sorrow of romantic youth when the real….’ Here the word ‘romantic’ is a:

(a) noun                           (b) verb                             (c) adjective                       (d) adverb

4. The verb form of ‘expression’ is:

(a) instrument                (b) express                       (c) expressly                       (d) expressiveness


I. 1. Beethoven gave mournful sonatas, and Yehudi Menuhin was the master of the violin. Bismillah Khan was a great shehnai player and Ravi Shanker was a great sitarist. They are the masters who gave mournful and sublime music.

2. When music becomes soft and low our senses are steeped into languor. The eyes are filled with tears and the memories of past start haunting. A voluptuous sadness permeates our soul

3. When the human heart is touched by the external world, the heart is moved. It finds expression in sounds that rise from the heart.

4. When the heart’s chord of sorrow is touched, the music produced is sombre and forlorn. When the chord of satisfaction is touched, music is languorous and slow. The chord of joy produces glowing and the chord of anger produces harsh and strong music.

II. 1. (c) sorrowful

2. (a) mournful

3. (c) adjective

4. (a) express

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