I truly find music to be an amazing thing. I have a fairly high appreciation for all forms of art; I grew up going to theatres to watch live performances, I’ve lost myself for hours in one exhibit of an art gallery and taking photographs of my hiking and camping trips is one of my favorite parts of those adventures. But still, there is something about music that seems to resonates the deepest.
It is an odd thing, I have never been able to establish why music has the ability to invoke emotional reactions faster and in a manner much more violent than anything else.
It’s not because I can identify with the artists through a common appreciation or ability to create it. There’s not a musical bone in my body. The best I can do is stumble through a scale or two on the piano from when I took lessons from my grandmother as a small child.
It’s not a mysterious arena that I feel the need to understand from a lack of musical ability when compared to other artistic skills either. I wouldn’t be able to produce a sculpture, photograph, painting or sketch that is considered ‘good’ if my life depended on it.
The power of music perhaps comes from its situational nature.
The infinite number of genres and types of music makes it uniquely able to produce a song for whatever situation you find yourself in.
No matter what emotions you find swirling through your head there is a song that complements it. You can find a song that was written and then placed to music by someone who has felt the exact same way as you do right now; and it’s evident from the way it’s sung. The tone and inflection of their voice.
When everything is in the right place at the right time, there is a synergy.
The emotions in your head, a tempo that matches them, words that describe your thoughts all compound and thrust you into a state that nothing could place you in by itself.
At least that’s the way it affects me.
I am by no means asserting that other forms of art are incapable of doing the same thing; but music is also unique in its ubiquity.
Going to the museum or a gallery is an event; something you often have to plan. Even once there you are subject to the limited variety of what is on display at that given time.
But the fact that you can listen to music at any point in time throughout the day is something that is taken for granted.
The radio in your car, the speakers in a restaurant, or any number of apps on your phone. There is no reason that you cannot listen to whatever song you want whenever you want in the world we live in.
The title of this editorial asks you a question. If you could pick any one song to show someone and have them actually listen to it, sat down with the lyrics in front of them so they get every word, what would it be?
I know that it is impossible to pull an individual song out of thin air and on the spot. But remember, music is situational. Take a moment and forget about music; take a deep breathe and think about how you feel right now.
How was last week, what happened to you and what does that mean for your mental state?
Are you happy?
Maybe you’re angry, giggly, in love, sad, scared, confused, done with everything, amped up or bursting with joy.
Are you numb?
Once you figure out however you feel, start to think about the music you know and love. What songs do you know that embody how you feel right now?
After a little bit of time you’ll pick one; and that is your one song.
There is a simple and elegant beauty to this kind of thought exercise and it centers around the music and the human condition.
There is no solidity in the choice of that one song. Because tomorrow, or even in an hour, you will feel a little different, and one of the infinite songs of the world could get its chance to be picked for a while.
That’s why I believe music is so powerful; it achieved its dominance in our lives through its fluidity.
So go ahead. Close your eyes, take a breathe–and pick one.