Difficult to answer.
In a physical sence one might say it are the tones translated into specific soundwaves received by your auditory senses where they are translated into nerve-signals that are led to be parts of the human brain where hearing is situated. There happens something in a neuro-chemical sense and one "hears" the music. But beyond that it's a purely subjective matter. In our awareness and consciousness it goes far beyond an abstract explanation in terms of physics.
I mean we are all different types of human beings living in different parts of the world growing up in different cultural settings and backgrounds. Original Arabic music differs from original ancient Chinese music which differs from western classical music. Different ethnical musical instruments produce different sounds and tones. Different scales can create pieces of music that can sound totally different from what you would appreciate and like.
Most people like to listen to the music they like. That doesn't mean that the types of music you don't like to listen to are not really music. It's just that you're brain, for whatever reason, is not programmed to like other types of music. The monotonous continuous and repeating sounds produced by a didgeridoo can sound boring to a person after a while whilst others can listen for hours to it. The extreme high voice of a traditional Chinese female singer accompanied by a traditional Chinese orchestra can sound annoying to someone who only appreciates the music of Mozart or Bach. It's maybe a matter of how you are conditioned or maybe it's just that unexplainable personal taste. Some people like red and some people like blue.
So what is music? In any case a means to express your emotions. In any case something depending on everybody's own personal preferences. We all like different types or styles of music. There's nothing wrong with that isn't it? Yet what I miss nowadays is the sense of respect one must have for the music or musical taste of other people. What I also see and notice is that there are millions of young and older people who all think that there own music is the best music. And that they are the best.
It's not true!
What I miss are the words of respect that gives another musician a mental uplift. I seldom see musicians compliment other musicians at least not in pop music. On the contrary, most of the time musicians talk bad about colleaques. They smile in your face and behind your back they verbally tear you apart. They denigrate the musical qualities of others. It's the same with people who only like there own type of music and denigrate the musical taste of others.
Just don't do that! Have some respect!
And as for musicians. There are good and bad musicians. Nobody is the best in anything. There are always people who are better than you are. You can excel in something but that's all it is. Thinking of yourself as being the best in the world is an illusion. Looking down upon others is bad. A beginner can only practice to become better. An excellent player can only work to become a master. A master will never look down upon lesser gifted musicians. If he does he is not a good person.
There are those who have to study hard to be able to play a specific music piece or song or melody or whatever. And there are those who play by ear and only have to listen briefly and then are able to play it flawlessly. To be able to do that one must know where the specific notes are to be found on your specific instument. You must be able to translate that what you hear into a certain fingerposition on the fretboard of your guitar or on the keys of your piano and form chords and melodies equal to what you hear.
There are those who must study and play from a musical score. And there are those who don't really need to do so. It depends how difficult the piece is and it depends on the musical abilities and technical playing capabilities of a musician. But then again Jimi Hendrix was a master on the electric guitar and he couldn't read a score. The same counts for Phil Collins and the Rosenberg Trio.
I remember Stochelo Rosenberg of the Rosenberg Trio say in an interview that he first carefully listens to a song until he knows every note and he can translate those into notes from his guitar and then he would make his own version of it in the style of the Rosenberg Trio. That's nice is it, if you can do that. Moreover they are world famous musicians in their own musical styles. You don't become world famous if millions of people from all over the world don't like and appreciate your music.
Most classical musicians must study complex music pieces before they can play them by heart. It doesn't really matter. What matters is how you play whatever you play. In the sense that the listeners must be caught by your play, by the way you play, by the emotional content of your play, by the way you place your own signature upon your interpretation of a music piece or song or melody or whatever. What matters is the result.
Again that might be subject to anybody's own musical taste and preference. But nevertheless: if something, whether simple or complex, sounds beautiful, it must be played well. And that's another thing I wish to mention and stress: why don't we all get back to the basics of what music should be and that's nice and beautiful!
It's not an intellectual endeavour or a quasi-athletic exercise. Don't play with your head, play with your heart. Don't listen with your intellect, listen with your heart. Be open to the emotional content and messages hidden in the beauty of a nice song, melody or music piece. Just listen, sign and whisper: that was beautiful.
Just feel, feel the music.
The personal view on music of Ron Lindeman.
I am an acoustic guitarist/singersongwriter.
I write my own songs.
I do also play covers of songs I like.
I like melodic songs and nice lyrics. Could well be a poem. In a song I seek a balance between melody and lyrics. I like acoustic guitars because I like the tone and sound of good quality acoustic guitars. But that's personal.
Nevertheless I do also play electric guitars.
I like nice melodies and prefer ballads but I do also like uptempo songs.
When I play and sing I like to put some of my own emotions and feelings into that song.
I don't think that's bad.
Good lyrics are nice too. Could even be a poem.
I am always trying to figure out what would be the recipe for making a successful song.
I still haven't got a clue.
I think that the melody must appeal to the listener and of course nice lyrics would help.
But then again, some songs have really stupid lyrics and a catchy melody and they become worldhits.
And of course the performer is an important factor.
A good playing-technique would help, but some tunes are really so simple to play so you don't need to be a real good guitarist to play them.
Bob Dylan wrote simple 3 or 4 chord songs and the whole world plays and sings those songs.
A good voice would help.
But then again, if you hear Joe Cocker sing , not everyone would say that he has a nice-sounding voice.
Or Leonard Cohen who says of himself that he simply can't keep tune.
Anyway, Leonard Cohen wrote some fantastic songs.
And then again: people's personal musical tastes differ so very much. We all like different types of music and there's nothing wrong with that!
My personal thoughts on making music:
1) Music to me is by definition emotions. A song is an island filled with deep emotions and feelings and a song must be able to touch the listener in the heart and soul.
2) I don't believe in simply copying the original. Try to change a song into your own version of it. For instance in the way you play an instrument and/or sing or change tempo or add different musical arrangements, etc, etc.
3) I don't mind playing covers of songs.In the classical music world almost everything exists of covers.The musicpieces of composers are often centuries old. In popular music it is no problem playing songs written and recorded by others. Just add what is specifically your own.
4) Music is always subject to people's personal taste. Your background,culture, the country you live in, your environment, etc, are factors that may influence your musical taste.But all human beings have emotions and feelings. With music you can touch someone in the heart and soul and arouse emotions and feelings.
5) Pure technical skills don't necessarily mean that a musicpiece is conceived as beautiful.
6) It are the listeners who will judge your songs and music. Not you as the musician or other people in the musicbusiness.
Music is Feelings!
Dare to feel emotions again.
To me music is emotions.
A feeling you get when you listen to music.
A feeling you are left with when the music has finished.
A beautiful feeling, a sad feeling, a melancholic feeling, a feeling of being homesick, a feeling of desire,a feeling of passion, a feeling of infinity, a floating etheric feeling.
Feelings and emotions are just simply very important for human beings.
I also am a (potrait) painter.
I work with acrylic paint or oil paint on canvas.
Greetzzz from Ron Lindeman