When we say that a sound has a particular pitch, it means that we can easily identify if the sound is high or low. Imagine you’re sitting in a recording studio and the guitarist is strumming a few notes – he or she is making pitched sounds. But the air-conditioner droning next room over is not.
Then there’s rhythm, referring to how sounds are sorted in time; and timbre, known as the ‘colour’ of sound, which allows us to tell the difference between the sound of a trumpet and a piano.
Under the definition of an organised set of sounds with these characteristics, a ringing phone, the siren of an ambulance, the horn of a car or a bird’s chirp could be considered music. Other definitions include that music should convey emotions or ideas. We are not sure if the sounds mentioned above do that, but they certainly carry a message.
Actually, we believe that the definition of music is much simpler in that any sound can be considered music if it was created with the purpose of being music. Or, in the words of the French composer, Claude Debussy: “any sounds in any combination and in any succession are henceforth free to be used in a musical continuity”.